Sustainable printing - Heidelberg steps up its environmental commitment
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
December 2007 - A study by Heidelberg confirms that 40 percent of printshops place great value on environmental protection. "Our customers set great store by environmental protection," confirms Dr. Jürgen Rautert, Director for Engineering and Manufacturing at Heidelberg. "We can show that protecting the environment and earning money are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the investments required to secure a better future for our planet pay for themselves very quickly."
Heidelberg made environmental protection one of its corporate objectives back in 1992. The company was the first to receive the industry's eco-certificate for its foundry in Amstetten in 1996. Since then, environmental management systems compliant with EMAS and later ISO 14001 have been installed at all of Heidelberg's development and production sites. Independent experts check each year whether the company's facilities comply with the legal requirements and voluntary commitments.
"We aim to make printing more environmentally friendly and to ensure that the public is aware of this fact," explains Dr. Rautert. "Having pursued an active policy of environmental protection for the past eleven years, our press production processes are already very environmentally friendly. However, the focus now is on minimizing the presses' environmental impact when in use at customers' sites. Therefore our developers are currently working on concepts that will keep environmental pollution in printshops to a bare minimum. Our Print Media Academy network also provides support for the implementation of appropriate production methods," continues Rautert.
If customers implement all the measures suggested by Heidelberg for environmentally-friendly production, numerous reductions can be achieved. CO2 emissions generated by material consumption and printing processes can be reduced by over five percent, paper waste by up to eighty percent, energy consumption by over fifteen percent and waste by up to five percent. For the Speedmaster XL105-6+L, these reductions are equivalent to total annual savings of around EUR 210,000 - without even factoring into the calculation the savings made on the press through shorter makeready times.
Reduced paper waste has the biggest impact on environmental protection
The biggest environmental factor in sheetfed offset printing is startup waste - no other parameter has such a big impact on a press's environmental performance. If we consider that 600 sheets of startup waste are created on average per job, a press in 3B format running in three-shift operation creates over 280 metric tons of waste a year. This corresponds to around 300 tons of CO2 emissions each year. The additional waste created in the postpress stage is not even factored into this equation.
Heidelberg offers a range of solutions to cut this wastage - primarily the modules of the Prinect workflow, including the Prinect Prepress Interface for presetting ink zones on the press, the Prinect Color Assistant for storing specifications for inks and paper, and the spectrophotometric inline color measuring and control system Prinect Inpress Control. Combining these Prinect modules cuts the number of pulls required during setup to one or two. This can save up to 400 sheets of waste paper per print job or up to 190 tons of paper a year.
The new Anicolor inking unit technology is today's most radical solution for cutting waste paper. It is available on the Speedmaster SM 52 platform and was awarded the prestigious PIA/GAFT Award this year.
New Star peripherals cut power consumption
The power consumption of a press is the second most important environmental factor after paper waste. A press in 3B format employing six colors, a coating unit and dryers has an average power consumption of 140 kilowatts. The power generated for this purpose is responsible for the emission of 290 tons of CO2 per year. The main drive, dryers and air supply technology use the most energy. Heidelberg boosts environmentally-friendly production through its Star peripherals, which together help reduce energy consumption significantly. For example, the newly-developed AirStar 3000 air supply cabinet uses a turbo radial blower that requires up to 50 percent less power than previous systems. At present, its efficiency rating is almost 80 percent, a value unprecedented in the sector today. Furthermore, the CombiStar 3000 Pro from Heidelberg is a combination unit that cools the machine's printing units in moderate climates for most of the year and does so without additional active cooling, i.e. using only the printshop's ambient air.
The distance between the dryer and the sheet in the Preset Plus Delivery has been reduced by more than two centimeters. Each centimeter means less power is lost during the drying process. In practical terms, this amounts to an energy saving of 10 percent in conventional printing when compared to the best rival system and as much as 25 percent in UV printing. With the new DryStar 3000 LYYL, up to 30 percent of the hot air is recirculated, which cuts energy consumption still further.
Always differentiate between the power input and power consumption
It is important to differentiate between the power input and the real power consumed. "Our innovative energy recovery system in the DryStar 3000 LYYL means that we have to heat the air with maximum energy at the start of production, but can then reduce the power during long-term operation to make optimum use of the heat from the waste air," explains Dr. Rautert. The same principle applies to various other components in the machines - it is always the maximum power required for the most critical job that is made available, but in practical applications, the use of frequency regulation and innovative control technology means that this peak power is only required in a few situations. Numerous measurements have confirmed that the Speedmaster requires much less power per sheet than other machines - and that despite its higher specifications. In future, Heidelberg will campaign for press specifications to quote the power consumption as standard.
New product: DryingMonitor - the world's first measuring system to record drying qualities for sheetfed offset
The new Star product DryingMonitor is used to assess a sheet's drying quality. As a result, it is now possible to minimize the performance and energy consumption of the patented DryStar dryers without worrying about the sheets sticking together. As the DryingMonitor makes for drying processes with less heat transfer, this means it is also less likely that the coating will yellow due to excess heat or that the printing stock will distort.
Breakthrough in the reduction of powder and alcohol
A further key parameter in environmentally-friendly production is the reduction of emissions, regardless of whether these are volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOCs) or powder. A new CleanStar process-air system is now available for the Speedmaster CD 102 and XL 105 units, which cuts the level of fine dust in the printshop to a fraction of the legal limit.
The use of alcohol in dampening solutions is another key area. "In Germany, only 15 percent of printshops use reduced-alcohol solutions. Unfortunately the others continue to use dampening solutions containing between eight and fifteen percent alcohol," underlines Dr. Rautert. "A major reduction in environmental impact would be achieved if all printshops used dampening solutions containing just three percent alcohol. The ecological "sweet spot" in offset printing, i.e. the balance between VOC emissions and environment-related additional outlay for energy, increased cleaning and startup waste, is achieved with a concentration of three percent rather than the widely-publicized zero percent."
A recent market survey showed that, of the one hundred Speedmaster XL 105 presses sold in Germany to date, 60 percent already use reduced-alcohol solutions containing between zero and six percent alcohol, with most running at the "sweet spot" of three percent.