The three factors that reportedly most influence the purchase decision of an offset press are speed, price and quality—which isn’t altogether surprising, considering that printers become subject to those same considerations when it comes to trying to win print jobs. “The only way a printer can survive today is to have control over the cost of the printed product,” says Don Bence, vice president of Sakurai USA Inc., “Unfortunately, commercial printing is being treated as a commodity today, with extreme price pressures in the market.”

Bence suggests one way to lower costs is to take advantage of press automation features, thereby reducing labor costs and driving down turnaround times for short-run jobs. Those are exactly the features Sakurai aims to underscore during GRAPH EXPO later this month. A six-up version—five colors plus a coater—of the Sakurai 575SDC offset press will be running live in the company’s booth. The fully automated press boasts a new image size of 23 5/8 x 31 inches, making it possible to perfect, or work and tumble three panel jobs with bleeds and color bars. This new format reportedly provides up to a 50 percent productivity boost to half-size printers.

Indeed, productivity and versatility are two themes attendees will hear about from vendors—and see firsthand on the latest offset presses—during GRAPH EXPO.

Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses (MLP), for example, will be launching its Diamond V3000LX sheetfed press into the North American market at GRAPH EXPO. A six-color version with aqueous coater and extended delivery will be running live during the show. According to MLP, productivity drops every time the press stops for maintenance or quality issues. Thus the Diamond V3000LX features technologies that address those issues—such as a lubrication-free gripper shaft torsion bar and oil-less bearings on the gripper shafts of impression and transfer cylinders, which reportedly shortens lubrication time by 75 hours per year. The press at GRAPH EXPO will also feature SimulChanger, MLP’s fully automated system for simultaneous plate changes, said to allow the printing plates on all the units of a press to be precision-mounted in a little over one minute; and Diamond Color Navigator, a newly developed color adjustment interface that reportedly cuts color adjustment time in half and increases reproduction accuracy by nearly one-third.

“Reducing waste, improving job cycle times and adding more profit to the bottom line are key drivers for success in the printing marketplace,” observes Susan Baines, director of marketing at Komori America Corporation. Komori’s Lithrone LSX40 offset sheetfed press will make its U.S. debut under this theme. Baines notes that the LSX40 operates at 18,000 sheets per hour, runs a 41-inch sheet for maximum efficiency and ultimately reduces makeready waste to 20 sheets. At GRAPH EXPO, the company will also highlight the fast job cycle time of its LSX29 through a 60-minute speed run every morning of the show.

Heidelberg, for its part, touts the productivity notion in a couple of ways. GRAPH EXPO will see the U.S. debut of the Speedmaster XL 105-P perfecting press. “With margins under pressure in today’s market, the XL 105-P is the logical choice for printers looking to improve margins through one-pass productivity and high-quality output,” explains Clarence Penge, vice president of sheetfed product management for Heidelberg.

The XL 105-P will be running live as a 10-color model at GRAPH EXPO, part of the fully integrated “print shop” that Heidelberg will be operating in its booth—and such workflow integration marks the other key to productivity, which the company will be underscoring at GRAPH EXPO, according to Heidelberg’s Timothy Henschel.