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Color Keyless Offset Update: Heat, Water Still Frustrate Printing; First U.S. Installation Converts to Conventional Inking, Second Tries Cooling Units, Third Site Ponders Vendor

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Color Keyless Offset Update: Heat, Water Still Frustrate Printing; First U.S. Installation Converts to Conventional Inking, Second Tries Cooling Units, Third Site Ponders Vendor

Article excerpt

Color keyless offset update

The first color keyless inking offset units put into production at a U.S. newspaper will be refitted with conventional inkers.

For a year, the newer TKS units and conventional TKS offset presses at the Star-Ledger's Piscataway, N.J., plant printed color ads and the paper's first editorial photos in advance Sunday sections. The paper's new Montville facility also was to have run keyless color, but will now run on only conventional TKS offset, according to operations director Andrew C. Harteveld.

Keyless inking has held out the hope of offset printing on less-complicated presses requiring fewer operators with fewer operating skills, as well as less maintenance and lower start-up waste. Keyless could eliminate the hundreds of ink-setting keys and rollers in long ink trains on big presses.

At the Star-Ledger, negligible ink rub-off was achieved, and various keyless four-color print characteristics proved satisfactory in preproduction tests.

While the hoped-for benefits have been realized in varying degrees, attempts to print properly with color inks have met with problems that arise sometime after units have begun delivering acceptable color - the inks' decreasing viscosity caused by heat and their increasing water content caused by recirculation to the fountain.

The large amount of black printing brings fresh black ink to replenish fountains, whereas color inks, because they are used less, are composed of a relatively greater amount of ink that returned to fountains with emulsified water.

Harteveld said the decision to abandon color keyless was made shortly before the International Newspaper Group's mid-October meeting in East Rutherford, N.J., where he reviewed his paper's keyless offset experience.

He noted that keyless black printing remained satisfactory, and that only color inking would be changed. A dozen satellite units will be converted on site, one at a time, over a six- to seven-month period without affecting printing capabilities, he told E&P.

Blevins Harding Group technology manager Bob Snitzer described the almost 250,000-square-foot Star-Ledger Montville plant's presses following an ING tour: Its 36 TKS C21 keyless offset units are in two lines - each capable of running as two nine-unit presses, and the second also as three six-unit presses using "strategically placed inverted folders."

Ink is supplied by Morohoshi, a Japanese manufacturer, and The Ink Company, which also periodically recycles the paper's stored waste ink through its Mobile Reclamation System, mixing it with virgin ink and returning it to the paper.

The second color keyless installation is at the Dallas Morning News. In addition to its six TKS conventional offset presses (each with a four-color satellite and 10 units with seven half-decks), Dallas prints with a four-high, 4/4 TKS C21-75 keyless color stack with its own RTP at the end of the sixth press, rising 17 1/4' from the floor to the highest sideframe edge.

There, too, problems are reported. Said senior pressroom superintendent Don Dykema, "The keyless has not performed up to expectations yet." In a brief telephone conversation, he noted that as press speed increases, color printing changes to "the point of stripping out" on rollers.

For now, the important word is "yet." The Morning News began using subtanks earlier this month to control ink temperature, similar to a process applied at the Star-Ledger. "There was an improvement," said production director James Correu. But results of the first limited tests, he continued, were "still not acceptable." TKS continues work on it.

Before the subtanks went in, Dykema said, "It seems to me it's more with the ink problem than it is the press problem." The Ink Company, the only U.S. supplier of color keyless inks to both the Star-Ledger and the Morning News, preferred not to comment on its current keyless work or experiences at the two customer sites. …

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