Commentary & Analysis
FREE: Day Three at Graph Expo Brings A Miscellany from McCormick Place
By Patrick Henry October 13,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 13, 2004
By Patrick Henry October 13, 2004 -- Day Three was a bustling time at Graph Expo: plenty of visitors, a spate of product announcements from the vendors, and a banquet of new production technologies in nearly every booth. Here’s a sampling of what we learned at press conferences and in our perambulations through the aisles. Goss International Corp. (booth 2079) Goss’s COO, Jochen D. Meissner, said that the 32-page format of the Sunday 3000/32 web removes the “24-page constraint” placed on high-volume printing by smaller, less productive equipment. He predicted that the press—presented as a static unit at the Goss stand—would provide a “natural migration path” for printers operating dual-web presses in smaller configurations. Commenting on Goss’s new role as the custodian of commercial web equipment originally developed by Heidelberg, Meissner pointed out that Goss already had a reputation in heatset web production through its earlier absorption of the former Baker-Perkins and Hantscho lines. He said that Goss and the former web division of Heidelberg had little technical overlap and would find opportunities to coordinate their R&D efforts. An example might be Goss’s DigiRail automatic inking system for its newspaper presses, which Meissner said could be adapted for commercial web production as well. KBA (booth 1054) Ralf Sammeck, president and CEO of KBA’s sheetfed division, was happy to project a sales increase of 40 percent by the end of 2004, a marked improvement even upon the 23 percent increase that the Williston, Vt., based press manufacturer enjoyed in 2003. Sammeck, who claimed that KBA now accounts for about 20 percent of the U.S. sheetfed market, attributed the increases to KBA’s singular reputation as the builder of a line of highly sophisticated, custom built presses that now includes the fastest and largest sheetfed models available. Sammeck also emphasized KBA’s commitment to waterless printing, noting that the company now offers four presses (Genius, Karat, 74B, and Cortina web) that do not use dampening systems. One of KBA’s strengths is large format presses of 40" and greater, led by a 81" model in its Rapida family. This dreadnought is not on display at Graph Expo, but a Rapida that did come to the show is equally impressive for its top speed: the 18,000 sph Rapida 105, a 41" machine that can print on stocks of thicknesses up to 48 pt. Sammeck said that another high point of interest at the KBA stand is the UV-capable Genius 52, which he described as the only two page (20") UV press currently available. Eric Frank, in charge of marketing for KBA, reported that the company is doubling the size of its demonstration facility in Williston and plans to host an open house there next spring. Muller Martini (booth 1447; with Nipson, booth 3360) A digital web press running at 300 fpm imposes too great a speed penalty upon a conventional web press to be run in line with it. Boost the digital web’s speed by one- third, however, and the two devices are ready to make beautiful music together—or at least large volumes of good-looking printed pieces that combine the color quality of offset with the variable-data capability of digital. Muller Martini and Nipson have brokered just such a marriage of convenience between the former’s Concepta web and the latter’s VaryPress 400 by connecting them as a continuous production line. In the demonstration at the Nipson booth, the Concepta prints four-up letterhead in color and streams the output to the VaryPress for personalization in black, Inline with the presses is a stacker/batcher unit. Capabilities also includes automatic numbering and bar coding on the VaryPress with technology developed by Axode, a Nipson partner. Andy Fetherman, manager of Muller Martini’s press division, said that the 400 fpm speed of the VaryPress made it fast enough to team productively with the Concepta, a 1,200 fpm press with variable cutoffs from 16" to 28 1/ 3" on a 20 1/ 2" cylinder. According to Alain Flament, president of Nipson America, the VaryPress was easy to integrate with the Concepta because it is “designed like a printing tower” for long-run web work like direct mail. Xanté (booth 5056) In a technology-intensive show like Graph Expo, a product that’s uncomplicated, utilitarian, and understandable at a glance has a real opportunity to stand out in a crowd of more complex “solutions.” Such is the appeal of Xanté’s Impressia metal platesetter, a tabletop device that represents the Mobile, Ala. company’s first venture beyond the polyester plate imaging devices for which it is best known. Robert Ross, Xanté’s founder and president, described the Impressia as a no-process, toner platesetter that uses high-intensity light to image daylight-safe metal plate material at a rate of about 60 plates per hour. Output resolution is 2,400 x 2,400 dpi, high enough to reproduce 150 lpi halftones. Imaging data is supplied by an Adobe PostScript 3 RIP built into the unit. Plate life is about 25,000 impressions, according to Ross, who also said that plates from the $15,000 device are suitable for pleasing four-color work. Who are its potential users? Small shops to be sure, said Ross, but not necessarily small shops only: “Every print shop in the world, even a shop running ten-color equipment, has a small press in it somewhere.” Riso (booth 3656) Someone was bound to think of configuring a piezo inkjet imaging system as a copier- like color reproduction device for offices, in-plant print shops, and small businesses. Riso appears to be the first to bring such a device to market. Its HC5000 FullColor ComColor Printer looks like a digital color copier and operates as fast as the fastest of them at 105 ppm. According to Kevin Hunter, director of marketing support, the HC5000 can output to an image area 12.4" x 18.2" at a cost of about $0.03 per page, making it not only the fastest but one of the lowest cost sheetfed inkjet printers available. Duty cycle is approximately 250,000 copies per month. Its ForceJet imaging system consists of 24 piezo inkjet heads—six per color—developed jointly by Riso and technology partners. The system can reproduce eight gradations (gray levels) per droplet, giving the HC 5000 a range and depth of color beyond that of toner based color printers. Riso supplies the ink directly to HC5000 users—a factor, said Hunter, in keeping the cost per page low. The HC5000, debuting at Graph Expo and retailing for $39,995, is the first inkjet product from Riso, which specializes in digital duplicators and multi-function printers. It is also RISO’s first full-color printer. Hunter says that the company has identified 15 target markets for the printer, including many of its traditional customers for duplicators: hospitality businesses, restaurants, real estate agencies, schools, and others requiring an economical solution for color output in flexible quantities.