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More Color Keyless Offset Coming: South Bend Tribune Selects Koenig & Bauer-Albert Press

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Color Keyless Offset Coming: South Bend Tribune Selects Koenig & Bauer-Albert Press

Article excerpt

A production process pioneer now printing on keyless letterpress equipment sees success where others have seen persistent problems. The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune is staking its money and its mettle on color keyless offset technology from German pressmaker Koenig & Bauer-Albert.

In late January, operations vice president Pete Baker and publisher John J. McGann recommended, and the board of directors approved, the purchase of a KBA anilox offset press much like the anilox Commander 70 running for the last year at Druckhaus Dierichs in Kassel, German (E&P, Dec. 21, P. 28).

A colorful Tribune printed on keyless offset equipment, however, will not appear before 1994. Baker said he expected a contract to be signed by the end of February.

The press, to be shipped in 22 months, will not be turned over or test run for at least two years. Even so, he said, management had to move up its schedule to raze the Tribune's existing building to construct its new plant.

From the equivalent of 20 blanket-to-blanket units the press will be able to print up to 64 pages straight (128 pages collect), half with four-color.

"It'll be a complete K&B installation," said Baker.

He described a press configuration very much like that in Kassel: two sets of 4/4, 2/2 and 4/4/ towers separated by one or two folders and fed by eight KBA Pastomat reelstands with semiautomatic reel loading.

But Baker noted that "ours is not an exact replica" of Kassel's press. He said KBA incorporated modifications for South Bend.

"We're like the third generation for them," he said.

The first, Albert Frankenthal's Alfra CX black-only keyless offset press installed at a large, multipublication printer near Frankfurt, was a forerunner of Kassel's color keyless. That printer reportedly has ince added color keyless.

Baker said the Tribune seeks to maintain flexibility in locating black or spot color on a tower's couples, with a web lead coming out of the middle of a tower where necessary. For the most part, he said, four-high towers will run 4/4/, though the two-high stacks may be either black only or black with spot color.

Though the Tribune originally intended to put a double 3:2 folder between the sets of towers, it is now more inclined to place a single 3:2 folder and a jaw folder there, according to Baker.

The Tribune also made a special arrangement with KBA for a jaw folder that will sit on the end of the press to handle a 33"-sheet Tribune business weekly -- the "Irish" sports report about Notre Dame University.

Though pressmakers are generally satisfied with keyless offset in black printing, color has been the major challenge to the technology. Without color, its prospects in the North American market are slim.

So, when South Bend went shopping for keyless offset, it had little to look at. Rockwell Graphic Systems had just introduced a color keyless offset press designed strictly for Japan. MAN Roland's first color keyless installation is more than a year away. Mitsubishi still offers only keyless inking on black units. Crabtree Vickers awaits a test site for its own new, three-color keyless offset unit.

TKS, the only manufacturer with color keyless offset running in the United States, was in the process of refitting New Jersey's Star-Ledger color units with conventional inking after about a year of keyless printing. It was also working with the Dallas Morning News to eliminate problems on its color keyless tower.

That left Koenig & Bauer as the only other supplier with an operating color keyless customer site. …

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