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Commentary & Analysis

Print 09: Litho, Litho Everywhere

To state the more or less obvious: Print 09 is an offset litho show. The rise of digital presses and a decline in the number of offset presses seen at the last three Graph Expos may have lowered the profile of conventional printing at the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) events somewhat, but it’s plain to see that the traditional ink-on-paper process is back in full force this year.

By Patrick Henry
Published: September 14, 2009

To state the more or less obvious: Print 09 is an offset litho show. The rise of digital presses and a decline in the number of offset presses seen at the last three Graph Expos may have lowered the profile of conventional printing at the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) events somewhat, but it’s plain to see that the traditional ink-on-paper process is back in full force this year.

Although the North Hall of McCormick Place belongs to non-impact printing, the South Hall is the undisputed bastion of the method that still accounts for the largest share of all printed output. Most of the manufacturers that can bring litho presses to Chicago have brought them, and platforms from small-format to 40"-plus are well represented. As befits a Print show, there are even a few North American product debuts.

Everywhere to be seen is progress in automation, JDF/JMF workflow, color control, waste reduction, and many other aspects of press performance. The take-away is that neither economic downturns nor declines in demand for hard-copy pages can hold back the advance of a printing method that has no idea where to find the point at which it can’t get any better.

Second-day crowds—a marked but still not sufficient improvement over the dismayingly weak turnout on the show’s first day—had plenty of offset litho specimens to examine when they arrived. We found the following 18:

The “pressroom” of the centrally controlled print shop set up by Heidelberg in booth 1200 includes a 10-color Speedmaster XL 75 perfector with simultaneous plate changing, inline color and register control, and other automated features for high-speed production at up to 18,000 sph. The 29" press also is equipped with a Wallscreen, a high-definition LCD display that represents all press functions. The Speedmaster XL 75 is joined by two other presses: a 20" Speedmaster SM 52 in a four-color configuration with the Anicolor zoneless inking system; and a two-color, small-format Printmaster QM 46.

KBA (booth 2545), which has relocated all of its U.S. sheetfed and web operations to a new facility in Dallas, is displaying an eight-unit Rapida 106 (41"), a six-unit Rapida 75 (29") and a four-color Genius 52 UV (20"). At the show, the Rapida 106 is to be put through a makeready speed derby in which it will attempt to print fifteen 4/4 jobs of 500 sheets each in one hour, including 120 plate changes.

Press offerings from Komori (booth 1245) include a six-unit Lithrone SX 40, a 41" press that can start feeding sheets at 12,000 sph as it closes in on ink-water balance; a six-unit Lithrone SX 29, which will show off its fast-makeready capability in a non-stop, 60-minute press run comprising a series of 200-sheet jobs; and, in its U.S. trade exhibition debut, a 29", five-color Spica 29P configured as a convertible perfector. The Lithrone SX 40 will be the demonstration platform for Komori’s KHS-AI artificial intelligence software for waste reduction.

manroland (booth 1129), which no longer brings press equipment to the Chicago shows, is using Print 09 to promote Printvalue, a portfolio of consulting and support services.

Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses USA (MLPUSA, booth 1146) has a six-unit, UV-equipped Diamond V3000, a 41" press. MLPUSA says that perfectors in the Diamond V3000 series can print two sides at up to 16,200 sph.

Presstek (booth 3646), the champion of direct imaging (DI) printing with on-press exposure and imaging of waterless plates, is showcasing the technology in three platforms at Print 09: the new Presstek 52 DI-AC with integrated aqueous coater; a 52DI with UV printing option; and the smaller-format 34DI. Also being introduced at the show is Presstek DI-Dry, an environmentally friendly waterless offset ink.

Ryobi, distributed by xpedx (booth 1221), enters the full-size market with the Ryobi 1050, a 42" press having its North American debut at Print 09. The show press is a six-color model that runs at up to 16,000 sph and uses a closed-circuit camera to monitor print quality. Also at the booth is the Ryobi 756G, a model from the latest generation of the manufacturer’s six-up 750 series. Configured in six colors, the Ryobi 756G is equipped with a UV curing system that uses LEDs (light emitting diodes) in the UV range for rapid curing with reduced power consumption. A third press from Ryobi, a small-format 524GE, is being shown by xpedx partner Mitsubishi Imaging at booth 7337.

Other litho presses to be seen at Print 09 include the five-unit Oliver 575 at Sakurai (1163) and the six-unit Shinohara 75 at Shinohara (2671). Press manufacturer Akiyama has a booth (4429) but is showing no equipment.

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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