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Jul 1, 2003 12:00 AM
Small-format presses aren't just getting older, they're getting better. Indeed, 14 × 20-inch presses offer more color units, improved inking, tighter registration and better control of a wider range of paper stocks than ever before. Today's two-up presses also boast features previously seen only on large-format presses, such as enhanced console controls, automatic blanket washing and plate changing, inline coating, perfecting and drying. Most small-format presses also offer press lockups suitable for both polyester and metal plates, enabling users to economically enter the CTP age.
Unlike duplicators, which have largely been displaced by high-speed, toner-based devices, small-format presses aren't restricted to one- or two-color jobs — presses are available in five- or even six-color configurations. Many also offer inline finishing, such as scoring, perfing, cutting and numbering. These 20-inch presses can deliver short-run, fast-turnaround jobs without compromising print quality, even on plastics and other challenging substrates. For some quick printers, a two-up press provides the means to produce color fliers, brochures and other applications that were once the exclusive territory of larger printers. And, for shops with large-format presses, a two-up press that requires only one operator and a few minutes of makeready time may be a more cost-effective option for runs ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand.
In our August issue, we'll take a look at the latest direct-imaging press developments. Here are some small-format press highlights:
Rated at 11,000 sph, the four-color Ryobi 524 HE distributed by xpedx (Lenexa, KS) features semi-automatic plate changing that reportedly eliminates plate bending. The system accepts polyester or metal plates and reportedly facilitates the reuse of stored printing plates. A plate-cylinder-cocking device allows the operator to make minute, on-the-fly adjustments diagonally. Adjustments can be made within a range of ±1 mm vertically, ±2 mm laterally and 1½ mm diagonally (at maximum printing area).
The satellite V-shaped cylinder system is said to allow printing with a minimum number of gripper changes, maintaining registration accuracy while practically eliminating marking. A rotary-type stream feeder ensures stable, smooth paper feeding for paper thicknesses ranging from onionskin to 20-pt. stocks. Options include automatic blanket- and roller-cleaning devices.
A.B. Dick's (Niles, IL) 4995A-ICS four-tower press features a stream-feeding vacuum conveyor and vacuum pull guide for good registration. An ink-control system (ICS) reportedly delivers consistent ink balance and color repeatability, while an ink-volume-setter program estimates ink-key settings for faster ink-fountain setup. Other features include a semi-automatic plate loader and an automatic blanket cleaner. Maximum sheet size is 13.4 × 17.7 inches.
The 9995A-ICS, QP25II and 9980CR models are two-color offset presses. The 9995A-ICS is digital-compatible and features semi-automatic plate loading and an ICS that is said to speed makereadies. It accommodates both metal and polyester plates. It also has a motorized continuous-dampening system. Maximum sheet size is 13.3 × 17.7 inches.
The QP25II features a patented Constant Contact Register system that combines direct feed with a tight-register system for better control and register. The QP25II can produce four-color process, screens and halftones of images up to 12½ × 17⅓ inches.
The 9980CR features a register-board design, provides an 11 × 17-inch bleed, a Crestline moisture system, a segmented level ink-fountain control system — on both the parent- and second-color head — and an optional numbering device.
Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) Printmaster QM 46 prints sheet sizes up to 13⅜ × 18⅛ inches, on stocks ranging from onionskin to paperboard, at up to 10,000 iph. It is available in one- or two-color models. In addition to its Autoplate on-the-fly register adjustments, the QM 46 features programmable controls, laser-slit ink keys, automated blanket washup and bearer-to-bearer pressure.
New features on the Printmaster GTO 52 include ClassicCenter console and Baldwin blanket-washing device. The console offers remote-control CPC ink fountain and remote register control, and can accept CIP3 information for presetting ink keys and storing up to 50 jobs.
The Speedmaster SM 52 prints on sheet sizes ranging from No. 10 envelopes to 14 × 20 inches with thicknesses from tissue paper to 16-pt. paperboard. It prints 15,000 iph and can automatically change to a perfecting press in one minute. Both metal and polyester plates are accepted by the Autoplate system. The 18-roller ink train has an 8.5 to 1 storage ratio for heavy-coverage jobs. A “short-path inking mode” feature, accessible from the console, makes the ink train separate the last eight rollers, making the ink train smaller. A retractable inline coating unit with Drystar dryer immediately dries the job, allowing for instant finishing.
Heidelberg's Quickmaster DI 46-4 targets jobs ranging from 200 to 5,000 copies and has a rated speed of 10,000 sheets per hour. The 13⅜ × 18⅛-inch-format press prints four-color jobs using waterless offset inks. It can also print on preprinted and prefinished materials, such as envelopes. All functions can be operated from the central control console, reportedly enabling a job to go from imaging to the sheet in less than 10 minutes.
The Lithrone 20 press from Komori (Rolling Meadows, IL) can print from postcard-size to 143/16 × 20½-inch sheets, and on ultra-thin and heavy-carton stock and even on plastic substrates, at a rated speed of 13,000 sheets per hour. The press can be ordered with up to six units for multicolor printing. A high-performance inking system reportedly provides on-press, one-shot color matching for shorter makereadies. Other features include semi-automatic platechangers, an automated pre-inking and de-inking system, and blanket and roller washers. All semi-automatic and fully automated features are controlled from an integrated operator console that features a touchscreen panel. An inline coating system is optional.
Shinohara's (Elk Grove Village, IL) 52 series, two-, four- and five-color, small-format presses feature blanket and roller washers, console control for on-the-fly plate cocking, and semi-automatic platechangers. Rated speed is 12,000 iph. This series has multicolor perfecting capabilities and accepts CIP3 information. The Shinohara color-control station is available for each press, but does not come standard. An inline aqueous-coating unit is only available for models with four or more colors.
Hamada of America (Brea, CA) offers the Impulse 452P, a 20-inch, four-color press with convertible perfecting, and the H234A, a two-tower upgrade of its H234 model press. The Impulse has a maximum production speed of 13,000 iph — 12,000 iph with perfecting. The H234A is rated at 10,000 iph. Both models feature what is said to be an easy plate-setting system, continuous dampening and running register.
Sakurai (Schaumburg, IL) offers the 458 series of four-color presses, which can run four-up 8½ × 11-inch sheets or two-up 11 × 17-inch sheets with bleeds. The 458 series has a maximum sheet size of 18⅛ × 22¼ inches, reportedly giving it a productivity edge over similarly priced 14 × 20-inch presses. Sakurai's 26-inch 466 SIP perfector press includes the same features as the 458 series, as well as automatic settings, including sheet-size presets, an ultrasonic double-sheet detector and a color console with an optional CIP4-compatible interface.