Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Digital Presses on Track for Papers?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Digital Presses on Track for Papers?

Article excerpt

Digital press makers tweak their equipment for commercial printing appeal, but keep eye on newspaper market

How long will it take for digital presses to migrate from the commercial side of the printing business to the newspaper side? At last week's Graph Expo, an equipment show heavily skewed to the commercial printing industry, the answer depended on whom you asked.

On the one hand, there were skeptics such as Boris Yoffe, director of customer service for Karat Digital Press, the closely watched joint venture between Scitex and KBA. Karat was showing off the 74 Karat digitally integrated offset press that it likes to say has a digital work flow "right down to the inking system."

"I don't think that [the Karat 74] will migrate to the newspaper side," Yoffe said. "For one thing, it's a high-quality machine -- that's one of its strengths -- with [print] quality you would not expect for newspapers."

On the other hand, there were also press makers who believe digital presses eventually will be adapted to newspaper needs -- and sooner rather than later.

"We see, long term, an application for this press in the newspaper industry," Chief Executive Officer Helgi Schmidt-Liermann said of MAN Roland's DICOweb digital press. "We're finding interest from publishers, particularly among the community papers, who see the potential in this technology."

For newspapers, there's a lot to like about digital presses. With their ability to take words and images from a computer right to the image cylinder and change the image with each turn of the roller -- digital presses eliminate the cost and time of platemaking and allow newspapers to produce an unlimited number of editions, including a truly personalized paper printed for one customer.

But, right now, digital presses are being made for commercial printers who have very different priorities from newspapers. Printers like digital presses because they reduce makeready for print jobs, permitting them to cram more jobs into a work shift. And those jobs are mostly short or medium runs of 500 to 20,000 single-sheet copies. For newspapers, of course, makeready is far less a concern than long runs at fast press speeds. …

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