New applications herald the DICOweb display at Graph Expo
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
McCormick Place, Chicago — A printing unit from DICOweb, the world’s only true offset press that prints without plates, will represent a host of new developments involving the MAN Roland innovation. Two forthcoming technical advancements were recently announced for newspaper printers who want to upgrade to DICOweb. They will be further delineated at Drupa 2004. A “convoy” concept is in the works that integrates DICOweb with conventional web offset printing units to create newspaper printing systems that maximize production flexibility and responsiveness. The winner of the 2001 GATF Intertech Award, the DICOweb can be used in coldset applications, like the one at Nussbaum Media in Germany. The first DICOweb in production, the Nussbaum press produces 250 local newspapers a week, with print runs between 500 and 20,000 copies. The second DICOweb in full production, at Stampfli in Bern, Switzerland, is a heatset model. It’s used for automated publishing-on-demand and split catalogs, effectively reducing their time-to-market. DICOweb is the only lithographic system that prints without plates. It uses an imaging cylinder that’s laser imaged, then erased, then reimaged so the press can print job-after-job directly from digital data, without the need for time-consuming plate changes. The 16-page DICOweb that’s running at Stämpfli sports four double printing couples and can produce at the rate of 11.4 ft/sec. It’s stationed in a new greenfield-built plant that it shares with three sheetfed presses and a toner-based digital printing system. According to company board member Peter Stämpfli, having a variety of printing systems under one roof enables his crews to better match the workflow to the job at hand. In fact Stämpfli finds that many projects benefit from combination production, with one element run on sheetfed, another on toner-based systems and yet another on the DICOweb. "The customer wants a certain product in a certain quality and with timely availability,” Stämpfli says. “In finding the right production solution, the staff's competence and ability to cooperate are decisive criteria. In addition, networking with the customers is necessary in order to enable us to make the publication processes efficient and to standardize them." Stämpfli takes the client communication component quite seriously. Since installing the DICOweb he has conducted nine workshops with more than 60 customers to work out new integrated solutions. His objective: to analyze and improve the overall production of specific jobs jointly with the customer. The focus, he says, is not so much on the technology as it is on the process. In many of the workshops, Stämpfli found out that for certain customers personalization isn’t a requirement. They’re more concerned with dividing a long run into smaller segments, the better to reach targeted groups. Such segmented runs are one of the strengths of the DICOweb. Material costs for plates and for their processing, storage and disposal are eliminated. A complete makeready takes about 20 minutes, while a form change within a job can be accomplished in 15. A pilot customer phase at Stämpfli confirms DICOweb’s rapid response performance on live jobs. Citing one example, Peter Stämpfli reported that an 16.5” X 11.6” (A4) catalog with 1,460 pages, and a segmented circulation of 10,000 copies was produced considerably more efficiently on the DICOweb than on a convertible eight-color sheetfed press. The reason: DICOweb speeds through file changes like no “plated” press can. Another strength of the DICOweb: short runs of 500 to 3,000 copies. "Especially in this area, the DICOweb is the best production alternative," Stämpfli says. Extended editorial and ad deadlines are another part of the DICOweb story at Stämpfli. The company’s publication customers are being informed that it is now possible to integrate new advertising or editorial pages up to one hour before run time. That gives the publications a competitive edge in the ad market and their readers fresher content. Both heatset and coldset versions of DICOweb are now available in North America.