Offset lithography zindabad at Drupa

Offset still dominates in Indian printing industry and the print firms are still opting for offset over digital.

12 Jun 2012 | By Sachin Shardul

Although the preferred choice is refurbished presses, but in the past 12 months, more than 330 brand-new sheetfed units have made inroads into Indian printing industry.

As Rafael Penuela Torres, executive vice-president and main board member of Manroland Sheetfed stated during Drupa, "There will still be a market for ‘conventional’ presses for along time. But we need to face the reality that more and more printers are dealing with digital print. Why should we fight it? The technologies are complementary."

He added, "When a customer buys a litho press it will be in use for at least five to 10 years. But often the market is dynamically changing, so we have always focused on upgrades so that customers can adapt their existing machines."

The recently concluded Drupa highlighted technical innovations. It's clear that printing is entering an exciting, dynamic new phase with myriad opportunities for print firms and print service providers alike. And the possibilities don’t stop within the realms of traditional printing. Although it was labelled as the inkjet Drupa, it was fascinating to see developments in the offset segment.

The offset highlights at Drupa

Heidelberg - Impressive gains on Speedmaster SX series
Heidelberg’s impressive exhibit of ink-on-paper showcased 60 new equipment and service innovations on show, by creating five different fully-integrated printshops – all displayed against a background of graphics created from used printing plates.

Key launches being the new Speedmaster SX series of presses, which follow on from the launch of the Speedmaster CX 102 at Ipex. According to Heidelberg the SX range is “professional” class of presses which sits squarely in between its established SM and XL ranges. SX models will be available in all formats, and with more than 1,000 printing units sold since the CX 102’s launch. It offers productivity improvements of up to 30% over SM models due to a host of XL-type technologies incorporated in the press.

SX models are available in the 35x50, 50x70, and 70x100cm (13.78x19.69, 19.69x27.56 and 27.56x39.37inch) formats. Configuration options include anything from two to ten printing units, with or without a coating unit. Additional features such as various customised colour measuring systems, ink zone calibration, and optimisation of colour presettings with Color Assistant Pro or the exchangeable cylinder jackets Perfect Jacket Blue and Transfer Jacket Blue boost the level of automation and flexibility further still.

One noteworthy aspect was how the Speedmaster SX presses deliver a more eco friendly printing process and lower costs. A measuring device makes it easy to measure and optimise the press’s energy efficiency per 1,000 sheets during production. This allows operators to run the machine with energy-efficiency values.

The Speedmaster SX 52 offers a wide range of applications, with configuration options including anything from two to ten printing units, with or without a perfecting device and coating unit.

Different coating systems for conventional or UV applications and an inline die-cutting unit are just a few of the many possibilities. Depending on the requirements, for example, the press can be equipped with inking unit temperature control or Color Assistant Pro. Moreover, the press is available with the innovative Anicolor zoneless short inking unit. Heidelberg supplies the Speedmaster SX 52 Anicolor with carbon offsetting as standard.
KBA - premieres ensure momentum
Prior to Drupa, KBA's installations in India gained momentum with Parksons purchasing two Rapida 105 6-colour plus coater full UV presses for its plants in Chakan and Rudrapur; while ITC’s Packaging Division picking up a Rapida 106 8-colour plus coater full UV press for its Chennai plant.

KBA’s selection of presses at Drupa incorporated new features designed to address the key challenges impacting printers on a daily basis, from faster turnaround times to varied run lengths and the ability to produce a wider product mix. This included the latest generation of jumbo Rapidas in the form of a higher mounted, six-colour Rapida 145 with a new coater tower, triple-length extended delivery and automated pile logistics.

The maximum production speed of the Rapida 145, which handles formats up to 105x145cm, is 17,000 sheets per hour in straight printing with the high-speed package and 15,000 sheets per hour in perfecting mode with the new three-drum perfecting unit.

Many of the automation modules of the Rapida 106 are now also available in the new large format press. For example, features the Drive Tronic SIS sidelayfree infeed and Drive Tronic SPC direct drives for fast, simultaneous plate changing. The Clean Tronic Synchro system for simultaneous washing of ink rollers, blankets and impression cylinders parallel to plate changing, a new program for fast inking unit washing and further simultaneous makeready processes contribute to significantly higher net productivity compared to the predecessor series and presses from other manufacturers.

Also on show was the recently launched Rapida 105, which the company said is aimed at B2 printers looking to move into the B1 market and take full advantage of the economies of a larger press that can in some instances replace two B2 machines.
Komori - focus on packaging
The new Lithrone GX40 Carton (six-colour sheet-fed offset printing system, 75x105cm, with H-UV equipment) looks suitable for package printing or special printing applications.The versatile printing options using H-UV – both on cartons and on special substrates – wasdemonstrated at its Drupa booth. The highlight was: UV package printing.

The Lithrone GX40 Carton features special equipment such as a high-resolution measuring system, which is particularly advantageous for expensive and heavy cartons, and a roller conveyor system which simplifies the transportation of heavier substrates. Also noteworthy was: 
wide-range printability with innovative H-UV UV curing on heavy stock and special substrates was demonstrated and many jobs with UV package printing was showcased. 

PQAS, a print quality assessment technology ported from Komori’s currency division, which scans both sides of every sheet and spots defects was also introduced. A new series of printing systems expanded the Lithrone line. The Lithrone A37, which was developed for the A1 market, was presented for the first time at Drupa. The four-colour sheet-fed offset printing system (64x94cm) is equipped with the base technology and the high base performance of the Lithrone series. The Enthrone 29P (five-colour sheetfed offset printing system, 53x75cm, with adjustable sheet turning) also premiered at Drupa. Underscoring its partnership with Konica Minolta, it announced digital solutions as well.
Manroland Sheetfed - high-productivity packaging 
Hira Print Solutions signied a deal for the installation of a six-colour Roland 706 HiPrint with an inline coater for their new printing facility in Mumbai.

Manroland added value in its sheetfed press which was showcased at Drupa which included the world premiere of the Roland 50 which featured XXL technology in the 36/52 format. With transferter technology and substrate flexibility, the Roland 50 set a new standard. Equipped with a 900 millimeters high-pile delivery, the Roland 200 showcased more efficient logistics and the Roland inline coater smart to increase productivity and the product value.

The Roland inline foiler, Prindor, a cold foil transfer module which enhances the position of the Roland 500 as a flexible production press was one of the highlight. The Roland 700 HiPrint also scored points with the its inline inspector and inline sorter for printing quality control along with new quick change features for reducing makeready time.

Visitors to Manroland Sheetfed’s stand were able to learn about other high-productivity packaging solutions, like the production in half-format with the Roland 500 and medium format with the Roland 700 as well as special 0B+ and 3B+ sizes, with speeds as high as 18,000sheets per hour. In addition, Manroland Sheetfed offered larger formats 5 and 6 with the Roland 900 at speeds of up to 16,000 sheets per hour with the high speed packaging equipment. 

Manroland Sheetfed also offered innovative solutions for the commercial printing market. This includes the ability for printers to better address customer requirements for faster turnaround using solutions that include the Just-Ready-Print solution powered by LEC-UV (low energy curing); a new hybrid inkjet solution integrated in the press for individualised printing; Autoprint Smart for automated processes between large job signatures combined with superfast make-readies enabled by Direct Drive technology and full inline quality control; high volume commercial printing with 64 pages printed in one pass on the Roland 900XXL perfecting press; and a new press console and user interface requiring less operator attention and offering easier handling.
Mitsubishi - Eco UV
Mitsubishi showcased its Diamond Eye-s system for sheetfed presses, which controls colour on press without the need to remove sheets and also combines quality inspection in one unit. According to Mitsubishi this is a unique feature. The Japanese press manufacturer also demonstrated the Eco UV. 
Ryobi - boost to casting and foiling
Ryobi showcased products for B3, B2, SRA1, and B1 segment. Ryobi’s 1050 press featured inline casting and foiling, as well as inline coating, while the 920 series was represented by an eight-colour perfecting version of the machine which featured the LED-UV ink curing solution. The 750 series was showcased by a five-colour 755G, which had inline coating and LED-UV ink curing as well.

One of the great things with the Ryobi is its ability for UV casting and foiling in its B1 press. When I spoke to the Ryobi spokesman during a demo, I was told the casting and foiling unit is available in B1 format for the Ryobi series 1050, as well as for the 750 series in B2 format. In the Ryobi 1050, this unit can be integrated into one, four, five or six-colour printing machines.

The single colour variant, with UV casting and foiling, can be used as offline finishing machines in conjunction with existing printing machines. Using the four or six-colour printing machines, four to six-colour prints, with holographic effects or foil finishing, can be produced in one single print run. As a result, productivity is increased considerably.

In the inline UV casting unit, there is a roll with 5,000m of casting film, designed with a standard or individual security hologram structure. The film is fed through the upper quarter of the pressure cylinder by means of nip rollers. Before the UV coating dries, the casting film is pressed into the coating, so that it is transferred onto the print substrate and subsequently hardens under UV light.

The film, with the basic hologram structure, can be rewound and used more than 10 times. In contrast to previous forms of hot foil embossing, which used high-pressure methods in external machines, the inline transfer of cold foils, with optimum register marks and short setup times, provides substantial time and cost advantages.

Ryobi provides two options for applying the UV adhesive – via the coating unit or the printing mechanism. By applying the UV adhesive via the coating unit, larger quantities can be applied than if the adhesive was transferred using the printing mechanism. Fine designs can be produced by applying the UV adhesive via the printing mechanism.
Sakurai - offset and screen
The Japanese manufacturer provided an insight into its Oliver series of offset presses at its stand. This included the Oliver 2102/SIP. Besides this, Ryobi also showcased the company’s screen press portfolio, including the MS series.
While the global package printing market is predicted to climb to $356.6 billion in 2013, there is still plenty of competition driving packaging printers (especially in India) in all categories to strive for higher productivity, lower costs and added flexibility. That competitive pressure along with the changing demands on the packaging industry as a whole are increasing attention on new developments in flexography, gravure, offset and digital printing platforms.

Capable of printing with high speed, efficiency and quality on a variety of substrates including metal, paper and board, film and laminates, offset lithography is a process that begs to be considered for an increasing range of packaging jobs. In addition to the benefits of high productivity and comparatively low costs for imaging versus gravure and plates versus flexo, offset provides a more versatile and stable process for many packaging requirements. Simplified and automated makeready processes not only mean fast start-ups for new or repeat jobs, but also quicker and easier adjustments during production.

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