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Grand opening

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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This past fall, xpedx Printing Technologies hosted an open house for the trade press at its new 20,000-sq.-ft. Ryobi press demonstration and learning center. (xpedx is the exclusive North American distributor for Ryobi branded presses.)

A quick glance around the Lenexa, KS, showroom reveals how far Ryobi has evolved from its duplicator roots. Two models from the 750 line of 6-up presses are on hand as well as two from the 2-up 520 series and one 3404 DI press. The company has indicated it will rotate in different models — the manufacturer's new full-size press (the 24 × 36-inch Ryobi 924) will join the display in a few weeks.

The die is cast

Founded in Japan in 1943 as a producer of die-cast aircraft components, Ryobi subsequently extended its precision manufacturing expertise to applications ranging from automotive to power tools. Ryobi began making duplicator-style presses — sold under a different vendor's name — in 1961. Until a few years ago, Ryobi manufactured a small-format press for a well-known offset press vendor. Ryobi still produces press cylinders and other components for a top digital press vendor.

National sales manager Tim Kirby teamed with demonstrator Bill Stahl and operations manager Darren George to provide a comprehensive equipment overview.

“Our hallmarks are print quality and reliability,” says Kirby. “We've never had to replace a gear [on any of our presses]. It all goes back to the way we build them.”

Kirby's hands-on demonstration of the Ryobi 750 stressed construction quality, ease of operation and automation that supports makereadies as fast as 10 minutes.

The 750's double-diameter 7 o'clock cylinder design facilitates printing on heavier stocks and packaging at higher speeds, with the larger cylinder size reducing potential marking issues. Users can disengage individual printing units. A fully automatic convertible perfecting device lets users switch easily from one mode to the other.

The 6-up press has six gripper changes — vs. 12 on some competitors' models — further reducing opportunities for doubling, slur, misregistration and other quality problems. A single-train inker reportedly supports cooler operation, in some cases eliminating the need for chillers.

The 750 can be configured with up to 10 colors, with an aqueous or UV coating unit, specialized curing and infrared dryers. Users can adjust the speed of the chambered anilox coating system to achieve the desired thickness without changing out rollers. When not in use, the coater can be raised to prevent marking on book or text stocks.

Other innovations include inverters said to result in power savings of 20-30 percent as well as a direct-feed lubrication system that ensures a steady supply of fresh oil (rather than a shower approach that could clog press “arteries”).

Send 'em in

Printers are encouraged to send in their toughest jobs for demonstrations. Stahl and five other xpedx Printing Technologies staff members will put the presses through their paces for UV, metallic, chemical embossing, lenticular and other applications. Stahl has 22 years of expertise in UV, high-end bookwork and annual report production.

Katherine O'Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

Meet xpedx

The xpedx/Ryobi partnership spans 30 years and 17,000 presses. Western Paper, a company xpedx subsequently acquired, originally formed the relationship. Today, xpedx Printing Technologies has a network of 50 dealers across the United States responsible for the sales and service of Ryobi presses.

Guy Belew, vice president, strategy and planning, xpedx, explained that xpedx Printing Technologies is a wholly owned division of xpedx, a Loveland, OH-based business of International Paper. The $6.7-billion-dollar company employs more than 7,600 people and distributes a wide range of paper, graphics, packaging and even janitorial supplies. It serves more than 50,000 printer customers through 260 distribution facilities. A fleet of 1,300 trucks combined with xpedx's logistics expertise ensures timely deliveries.

“There is no larger supplier to the printing industry in North America than xpedx,” declared Belew. Smaller printers are probably familiar with xpedx's 155 stores. Unlike the old days, few printers can spare the time for a leisurely cup of coffee with their paper salesperson. In these quick-turn times, online transactions account for more than half of xpedx's orders.

Jeff Higgins, xpedx corporate director of marketing services, detailed xpedx's program to help printers understand and achieve dual SFI and FSC certifications via Bureau Veritas Certification (Jamestown, NY). More than 200 general commercial printers have requested xpedx's starter kit.


The one that didn't get away

In May 2006, all Bob Sparks really wanted to do was go fishing. But on his way to Lake Erie, the Cincinnati printer decided to take a look at a Ryobi 750 23 x 29-inch press installation.

“I went out of curiosity,” recalls Sparks. “When I saw it, I said, “Oh my goodness. This is an outstanding piece of equipment.'”

Sparks and Dave Sollberger, who has since retired, created Crest Graphics in 1999 after purchasing the assets of Crest Craft. The 18-employee company occupies 20,000 sq. ft. Until recently, Crest Graphics ran a 40-inch, 5-color press and a Harris 4-color press. As Sparks researched options for replacing the legacy press, he called upon decades of experience spent working for major printers. “I came up through the shop floor,” he explains. “I've run most of the vendors' presses.”

After seeing the 750 installation, Sparks visited the xpedx/Ryobi demo center in Lenexa, KS. One of the showroom's 29-inch presses had been taken apart for training. “I really liked what I saw in terms of how it was built and the quality. I was surprised, because I associated Ryobi with duplicators. But I know equipment, and [this press] is outstanding.”

The Ryobi 750 also was a good fit for Sparks' budget. “I thought [a competing brand] was overpriced. The 750 is a great value.”

Service and support were key considerations. “If we're down, we need service immediately,” says Sparks. The Cincinnati printer says the Kansas facility's spare parts stock as well as local technical support from Graphco provides peace of mind.

The Ryobi 755 was installed at Crest Graphics on December 26, 2007. “A typical installation would take 10 days, but this only took six,” says Sparks. “They set the units the first day — I was amazed at how fast [the process] went.”

Way beyond duplicators

Two 6-up presses currently occupy pride of place at the new demo center: the 5-color, 23 × 29-inch Ryobi 755 with coater; and the Ryobi 784E, a 23 × 31-inch, 4-color press. Visitors also can see the Ryobi 3404E DI as well as two 14 × 20-inch, 2-up presses: the entry-level, Ryobi 524HE in a 4-color configuration and the high-speed Ryobi 525GX with coater.

Shop online targets six core business segments: printers and publishers, manufacturers, building service contractors, in-house facility maintenance providers, retailers and the U.S. government. The site handles more than 5.8 million orders annually and has real-time pricing and availability on more than 100,000 SKUs.