By: Mark Vruno
Heatset/coldset hybrid printing press technologies have been around for more than a decade. But a more global trend started nearly three years ago, when China’s newspapers began embracing foreign equipment and cooperation. The latest example is the daily Guizhou Ribao, covering Guizhou province in southwest China.
In order to fulfill Chinese readers’ growing demand for color, more pages, and better print quality, the Guizhou Ribao Press Group installed a new UNISET last September. The eight-page system from manroland web systems features a hybrid configuration that combines both heatset and coldset production possibilities in a single web-offset press. Heatset presses can print on both coated (glossy) and uncoated paper stock, while coldset presses are restricted to uncoated paper, such as newsprint. Other press manufacturers, including KBA, offer hybrid models as well. The UNISET configuration consists of four eight-couple towers, two folders, four reel splicers, and a dryer with an integrated afterburner. Maximum production speed is 80,000 copies per hour in non-collect runs, 40,000 cph in collect runs, or 35,000 cph in collect runs for heatset products.
Before signing the contract in mid-September, Guizhou executives consulted other printing companies that had started production on UNISET hybrid presses in China. “Guizhou Ribao scrutinized all the options very critically and intensely before making this investment,” said manroland vice president of sales Frank Tietsche in a statement. “This is the first milestone in our new partnership, in which we are now poised to demonstrate our competence with excellent project management.”
The UNISET press will be installed alongside existing printing systems inside a new facility in Guiyang that is still under construction. When the facility is finished, Guizhou Ribao will have invested the USD equivalent of nearly $33 million in the 272,000-square-foot printing center.
With 145 employees, the Guizhou Group prints more than 40 publications, including various business newspapers and news magazines. The new UNISET will boost capacities in coldset and heatset printing to 660,000 broadsheet pages per hour, raising annual output from 897 million broadsheet pages to 1.2 billion each year.
Coldset and heatset modules foster flexibility
According to manroland web systems, the UNISET was designed to offer production modules to meet any demand. With the combination of heatset and coldset modules, as well as the option to operate up to four webs in the eight-couple tower, the web-offset press is always ready for change.
- Versatile configurations: The UNISET is available in widths of two or three plates, but it also offers the option to combine both designs. Modular folding systems with various superstructures leave almost no configuration wish unfulfilled.
- Variable web widths: By making use of the web width variability of the single-width press, different signatures can be produced for diverse and flexible press utilization. This also goes for the heatset area.
- Proven folding systems: The UNISET folder superstructure is optimally adjusted to various folder components. The robust, pin-type jaw folder with a 2:3:3 system is designed for high performance with up to 80 pages in broadsheet format. With the pin-type jaw folder with a 2:5:5 system, 112 pages can be collected. Folder equipment such as quarter fold, gluing, and stitching provides the technical basis for a large value-added depth in inline production.
- Creative press concepts: Installation of different levels can be implemented just as easily as installation in a row, or arrangement of a reel changer at a 90-degree angle to the printing towers.
WAN-IFRA Show Recap
New thermal plate
At the WAN-IFRA show in Frankfurt, Germany last fall, Kodak presented systems and solutions for newspaper and semi-commercial newspaper printers, including the introduction of a no-preheat newspaper plate. The firm’s research and development has focused on the advantages of thermal over violet technology, with the former addressing environmental issues as well as enhanced sustainability through low chemistry and true process-free production. Leading the way is the new Sonora News Process Free Plate, which enables the complete elimination of plate-processing equipment and processing chemistry.
As the only process-free plates specifically designed for newspaper applications, they help save time and money, and reduce environmental impact compared to violet plates and even chemistry-free plates. While violet plates require a preheat step, some sort of processing equipment, and chemistry, and have special plate handling conditions, press-ready technology enables the Sonora News Plates to remove all sources of potential variability, so printers can count on more stable, consistent plates for reliable quality. Running on the Generation News Platesetter, Sonora News Plates image at up to 240 plates per hour — fast enough even for some larger newspaper operations.
Working well in both manual and highly automated platemaking environments, they enable newspaper printers to get their jobs to press fast by eliminating the time needed for traditional processing. In addition, Sonora News Plates can be used with vision punch benders from a variety of vendors, including NELA, Glunz & Jensen, and Burgess. Finally, because there is no chemistry to buy, store, and dispose of, printers are able to reduce costs and environmental impact.
“Getting to press fast is critical in the newspaper-publishing industry,” said Philip Cullimore, managing director of Kodak’s consumer and commercial businesses in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. “Because Sonora News Plates remove the processing step, newspapers can reduce that time by simply imaging and punch/bending the plate and going quickly to press. These plates are the next logical step in improving newspaper production.”
Chem-free plates get greener
Also at IFRA, Agfa Graphics announced improvements to its newest chem-free violet plate for newspapers, the :N94-VCF, that further reduce its environmental footprint. The introduction of a new violet newspaper gum, which lowers consumption and extends bath life by 30 percent, helps newspapers reduce maintenance and operational costs. Newspaper printers also can benefit from 30 percent longer bath life with the plates, which are manufactured in Branchburg, N.J.
The :N94-VCF plate from Agfa already offers a series of advantages compared to conventionally processed plates. In the :VXCF85 clean-out unit, a pH neutral gum solution washes and protects the polymer plates and makes them ready for press. It eliminates processing parameters, is efficient in use, and dramatically reduces chemical waste. The new newspaper gum extends these benefits even further.
“Replenishment with gum is effectively eliminated, which also extends the bath lifecycle from 1200 m2 to 1800 m2,” said Eric Elyn, plant manager at Coldset Printing Partners, in Brussels, Belgium. “This is again a step forward in terms of cost savings and waste reduction, on top of the achievements inherent to using chem-free plates so far.”
Reinhilde Alaert, product marketing manager for visible light plates at Agfa, said, “Violet chem-free plates make pre-press for newspapers much easier. The system is more convenient to use than a conventional processor, is so much cleaner to operate as it only involves a pH-neutral gum solution, and the plate performs equally well on press. With the new violet newspaper gum, the cleaning is even easier, and the maintenance is reduced, which helps to better control the total cost per plate.”
Thank You, Mr. President
Helmut (John) Dangelmaier stepped down as president of the PrintCity Alliance on Dec. 31, 2012. When Dangelmaier joined PrintCity a dozen years ago, it was in its early days following drupa 2000, Alliance members said in a statement. He played a leading role in guiding and helping grow all Alliance worldwide activities and the PrintCity team.
With more than 40 years in the graphics industry and experience working at research organizations FOGRA and GATF, cross-industry organizations such as the Web Offset Champion Group, plus 12 years as president of MEGTEC Systems, Dangelmaier brought PrintCity unique experience.
“A unique idea needs unique people, acting with great passion to make it successful. John was extremely well regarded in the global supply industry,” said Josef Aumiller of manroland web systems and a PrintCity vice president. “His magic touch at PrintCity was to bring people together, to focus all member companies in supporting one overall target: making print more successful.”
Arno Durr, Weilburger Graphics, and representative for all PrintCity members, said, “It has always been a pleasure to work with John. He has lived PrintCity and offered all his experiences, knowledge, and personal network, to make PrintCity successful.”
Rainer Kuhn, PrintCity managing director, summarized the importance of Dangelmaier’s work: “We could not have achieved the significant member-added value or worldwide market recognition without his advice and guidance. My special thanks to John for his commitment, passion, and friendship over so many years.”