Magazine article Editor & Publisher

PRESSING BUSINESS : Waterless Offset, Plateless Litho, and Shaftless Tower Additions

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

PRESSING BUSINESS : Waterless Offset, Plateless Litho, and Shaftless Tower Additions

Article excerpt

Press makers aiming for efficiency and versatility strive to make it easier to add color to older presses, take the water out of newer offset, and digitally create printable images.

MAN Roland made DICOweb the center of its Nexpo 2003 campaign, showing for the first time in North America a model rather than a mock-up. The variable-cutoff press with digitally re-imageable cylinders targets papers that want to print short-run specialty products -- as a third European site soon will. "It's been a 10-year process, and it's finally become a production model," said Vince Lapinski, senior vice president, web operations.

MAN also will add color towers to any press -- a business it had avoided because of control and drive incompatibilities that can come with retrofitting. MAN now argues that those issues are obviated by its shaftless drive, open-architecture controls, and the PrintNet workflow system that its ppi Media subsidiary offers.

Emphasizing flexible equipment configuration, KBA-North America's Nexpo focus was on newspapers looking at additional and non-traditional printing jobs. "Maximizing the time the press is up and running and minimizing downtime -- that is, across the board, what you hear from every single purchaser or prospective customer," said Marketing and Newspaper Sales Director Gary Owen. Finding new work is second only to bringing back in house work they had shopped out, he said.

The doublewide version of KBA's very compact, four-color Cortina press is finally into a European beta site and available for sale, according to Owen. The waterless press relies on special plates, ink, and temperature controls. It features lower dot gain, automatic blanket tensioning, semiautomatic plate change, and console-set roller lock.

On another front, KBA now offers a flexo press with directly driven couples arranged to make four-over-four color possible within a two-high's profile.

In contrast to introducing shaftless drives eight Nexpos ago, Wifag now tries to counter its high-price image. "We are actually selling people less equipment because you can do more with it," Vice Chairman Noel McEvoy said. "Maybe instead of five presses, you buy four because there are greater efficiencies."

Wifag's next big thing is the evolution 471, an offset press designed to accommodate future technologies. Wifag makes only doublewide offset newspaper presses, and unlike its principal competitors' efforts -- one shelved during bankruptcy, another a sheetfed press, and a third for niche products -- it hung back on developing a digitally driven machine, studying control of imaging and content to serve future multiple-media business models, said McEvoy. …

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