NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Watkins Lithographic Inc. always searches out the most innovative technology with which to serve its clients. Recent purchases expanded the company's equipment lineup to include two 40-inch Mitsubishi convertible perfectors.
"We were looking to differentiate Watkins Lithographic from every other printer in town," said Eddy Watkins, president. "These two perfectors give us a market edge. Printed images are cleaner. Makereadies are shorter. The printing speed is faster."
Established in 1978, Watkins Lithographic captures big visions in high fidelity at reasonable prices. The $10 million company specializes in high-resolution printing for clients in the insurance, financial, pharmaceutical and greeting card industries.
"We compared perfecting presses from the major manufacturers and weren't happy with the marking and front/back quality variation we saw on sheets coming off the other machines," Watkins said. "We print work for very quality-conscious customers like Hallmark Cards. They will not accept smudging."
Watkins Lithographic has a history of transforming itself into a technology leader. For example, it was a pioneer in adopting 10 micron Kodak Staccato stochastic screening.
"We were among the first printing companies to implement Staccato 10 screening and one of only a handful in the United States using this method," Watkins noted. "Trying to stay above everybody else in technology has been our forte."
With the installation of an eight-color Diamond 3000R with dual coaters and a four-color Diamond 3000R with a single aqueous coater, Watkins Lithographic was able to replace two existing 40-inch presses and a 26-inch model from another manufacturer.
"Anytime you can run a sheet through the press only once, you can put jobs in your customers' hands quicker and save them money," Watkins pointed out. "The speed and improved productivity immediately make you more competitive."
The four-color Diamond 3000R has proved to be ideal for printing manuals and catalogs one-over-one and two-over-two. The press has enabled Watkins Lithographic to shift work from an older two-color perfector.
Watkins Lithographic has broadened its product capabilities because of the eight-color Diamond 3000R's ability to print and coat both sides of the sheet in one pass. Tower coaters are located before the sheet-reversing unit and after the final printing unit.
"There is probably not another printer with a press that has double coaters within a 250- to 300-mile radius," Watkins said.
The eight-color press prints with conventional and ultraviolet inks and coatings. UV printing opens the door to special projects and substrates, such as plastics.
"Although we had printed on plastics from time to time before, this is really a new market for us," Watkins said. "It presents significant opportunities to generate additional revenues."
UV printing gives Watkins Lithographic's customers sharp, good quality results as well.
"The sheet dries almost instantly when the UV lamp hits the inks," Watkins said. "It virtually eliminates any possibility of marking when the sheet passes through the reversing unit."