The Saxoprint online print shop in Dresden will receive its second Speedmaster XL 162 large-format press from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) in early 2013. The eight-color perfector will be working alongside an identical press that is already installed and an additional Speedmaster XL 145 four-color machine. Saxoprint GmbH has been operating its successful online print shop saxoprint.de since 2006 and, as of January 2012, has been part of CEWE COLOR, Europe's leading photographic service provider. The Speedmaster XL 162 is able to deliver the extremely short makeready times and minimal waste needed to meet the high levels of efficiency and productivity required for Web-based online printing. These factors are all the more important since runs as short as only 250 copies in this segment are unusually low for large-format offset printing. Moreover, the presses need to be absolutely reliable, since the gang run mixed forms accommodate up to 100 different customer jobs. The Speedmaster XL 162 is raising the bar in this regard with innovative technologies such as motorized paper stretch compensation (remote fan out control) for precise registration and the double gripper delivery for maximum sheet usage. Used in conjunction with the fully-automatic AutoPlate XL plate changer and inline spectrophotometric control of color and register via Prinect Inpress Control, the Speedmaster XL 162 is able to achieve makeready times that were previously considered impossible. "The leap in productivity possible with this machine is simply revolutionary for offset printing. Makeready times are just one third of what was previously typical. The quality in perfecting printing is identical to that achieved in straight printing - the register accuracy is outstanding. In my opinion, there is only one Peak Performance Class - and that comes from Heidelberg," states Klaus Sauer, CEO of Saxoprint, after five months of working with the press.
Down with makeready times and paper waste
The makeready times achieved with the Speedmaster XL 162 eight-color perfector at Saxoprint are, in absolute terms, scarcely higher than for a straight-printing press. Eight to twelve minutes are needed for plate changes, washup and setup. Since these makeready processes occur just once, however, the reversal process alone cuts makeready times by 50 percent compared with the straight-printing press. Waste levels, too, fall by a comparable amount. Whereas straight printing needs some 120 sheets for setup and a further 200 as "reserve" for setting up the second print run, the Speedmaster XL 162 requires only around 120 to 150 sheets in total - a significant contribution to productivity, costs, and climate protection. The proven inking unit technology of the XL platform and the color management possibilities this allows also provide the ideal basis for a standardized print process with minimal paper waste. "According to my estimations, the makeready process for online printing is up to two thirds of the press runtime depending on the product category," says Sauer. "Online printing lives from efficient makeready processes - which is why cutting makeready times and boosting material efficiency are our priorities. After all, that's how we earn our money."
A world first - motorized paper stretch compensation ensures precise registration
Heidelberg was the first company worldwide to introduce motorized paper stretch compensation (remote fan out control) to the large format when it added this function to the Speedmaster XL. This technology enables a register error caused by a paper distortion at the rear edge of the sheet to be compensated fully automatically by the Prinect Press Center control station. This dispenses with the time-consuming process of manually adjusting the impression cylinder circumferentially or laterally by means of the clamping bar segments. This high register accuracy is all the more important given the fact that the printer - unlike in classical commercial printing - has only limited influence over the structure of the printing form. The gang run mixed forms can easily accommodate up to 100 customer jobs, each of which must be in perfect quality, even if, for example, there are negative 8-point fonts at the rear edge of the sheet in 7B format.
Double gripper delivery enables flexible job pooling
The sheet format can actually never be too large for printing the gang run forms - after all, the larger the format, the greater the flexibility in arranging the individual repeats. In the past, large-format perfectors had two limitations - smearing during sheet travel and machine-related restrictions in the arrangement of the gang run forms, since corridors for the sheet brakes prevented efficient job pooling. This reduced the printable area by around six percent.
Both limitations are now history thanks to the double gripper technology from Heidelberg. Since the sheet in the delivery is guided by grippers at both the front and rear edges, the sheet guide plate has been eliminated completely and, with it, all the risks of ink buildup and associated scratches. Use of a special brake gripper bar also dispenses with the brake corridors that previously hindered job pooling. Jobs can now be nested over the entire surface of the sheet. In addition, paper savings of around 5 cm across the width of the sheet cut paper costs enormously.