By: Mark Vruno
In our post-GRAPH EXPO coverage last October, E&P reported that manroland believes its large, 96-page Lithoman S heatset web-offset press ultimately may challenge the gravure process in the United States. The 112- inch-wide format works especially well in Europe, where trim sizes are more flexible for high-volume retail, catalog, magazine, and insert products, said Vince Lapinski, the firm’s North American CEO. (See “manroland Update” below.)
Fellow press-maker Goss International actually was first at the proverbial table, three years ago, with the world’s first single-web, 96- page press: its Sunday 5000 model. A trio of these presses in full operation in three locations, and one printer investing in a second system, prove the economic and competitive advantages of the 112-inch-wide format, according to Goss.
The Goss Sunday 5000
The first Sunday 5000 was installed by Italian magazine printer Grafiche Mazzucchelli in mid-2009. In early 2010, Impresia Ibérica, part of Circle Printers, installed the 96-page Goss press model in Spain. And this January, magazine printer Stark Druck installed a second Sunday 5000 press in Germany. (Its first four-unit configuration was added in mid-2010.) Goss will supply highspeed pinless combination and former folders for the new press and an additional new former folder for the first installation. Stark Druck also operates two Goss Sunday 4000 48- page short-grain presses.
“The performance of our existing Sunday presses, including the newest 96-page system, and the advantages they allow us to provide for our customers were the key factors in our decision to invest in a second Sunday 5000,” said Reiner Wormitt, managing director at Stark Druck. “Goss International shares our vision for creating new opportunities through innovative, high-pagination presses, and they have stood behind that vision with their ability to execute and support these installations.”
Stark Druck has selected the Goss Autoplate fully automatic plate-changing technology and the DigiRail digital-inking system for its Sunday 5000 presses. Goss also is supplying a Contiweb FD paster, Ecoset dryer and Web Center automated workflow and control system. The new press will have a PCF- 3 combination and PFF-3 former folder, both designed to run at up to 100,000 copies per hour for optimum product versatility. Stark Druck is adding a Goss PFF-3 former folder to its existing Sunday 5000 press, creating two identical 96-page systems.
Pinless former folder fosters flexibility
Teamed with the appropriate pinless folder, the Sunday 5000 press system can print as many as 104 DIN A4 (letter-size) pages in a single pass, as well as offering enormous flexibility in product format capability. The Goss PFF-3 pinless former folder produces a signature with three open sides and a full range of tabloid, square tabloid, delta fold, digest, slim jim, and magazine products at up to 3,000 feet per minute (fpm). This format versatility makes the Sunday 5000 particularly attractive to newspaper printers looking to diversify into more commercial work, and vice versa. At current sites, printers routinely use the multi-ribbon capability to produce four separate catalogs or retail flyers per impression, at up to 180,000 copies per hour.
Automated presetting, push-button changeovers and on-the-run adjustments speed up makeready and prevent unnecessary stops, and paper savings can be maximized when teamed with Goss Ecocool and Ecoset dryers. The features and ribbon configuration of each of the PFF-3 former folders for the Sunday 5000 presses at Stark Druck will be unique in Europe, allowing the printer to offer specific products and very high copy output in low-page-count magazine format.
Why high pagination makes sense
Goss began discussing the concept of a 96-page press with forward-thinking web printers in 2005 and became the first supplier to announce plans to develop the mammoth press two years later. Skeptics doubted the technical feasibility of such a wide offset press. Development required extensive process knowledge and practical experience in high-speed, wide-format splicing, lithography, web handling, drying, folding, and process automation.
Others questioned the business sense, given the impact of economic recession and the expansion of alternative media in the ensuing years. “Overcapacity” is a label commonly attached to the commercial web-offset industry, and a higher-pagination format seemed counterintuitive. But proactive printing companies recognize that the opposite is true: that offense, rather than defense, is necessary to confront economic and media challenges. These people continue to focus on optimizing capacity rather than overcapacity, and an increasing number realize that the 96-page platform represents a much-needed path to more cost-effective and competitive print production.
While overall demand for traditional commercial web products may not return to pre-2007 levels, Goss said, the stabilization of volumes, the rebound in some sectors, and an expanded application range reflect the ongoing viability and strength of web-offset printing. This volume will be concentrated among printers who invest in technology that allows them to take significant cost and waste out of the process, produce a wider variety of products, manage shorter run lengths, and take volume away from other processes such as sheetfed and gravure.
112 inches: an optimal width
The 112-inch web width of the Sunday 5000 allows up to 12 full-size magazine pages across the cylinder and four pages around the cylinder in long-grain orientation. (For 8-1/2 x 11-inch products, this width allows as many as 13 pages across.) Goss research, compiled by studying the job records of web printers worldwide from 2000 to 2010, indicates that this is an optimal format for double-circumference production. This data have confirmed that press systems producing an even number of sections in 16-page increments (32- and 64-page presses, or duplexed 48-page presses) are the most compatible with page breaks required by publishers, advertisers, and print buyers. Companies operating press systems in these formats maximize productivity by utilizing the full web width for more than 80 percent of their jobs. In contrast, printers operating 72- and 80-page presses run narrower webs far more frequently, sacrificing efficiency and productivity. The logic and research results are consistent for tabloid production, with an even number of eight-page sections being optimal.
The efficiency of the 112-inch width carries over to the bindery, where Sunday 5000 presses can reduce finishing costs. Producing a single 48-page tabloid section on the press utilizes the full web width and allows high-quality finished products to be built in the bindery with the fewest possible number of sections and the fewest number of bindery stations. (Prior to the availability of the 96-page press, some web printers opted for duplexed 48-page systems to achieve optimal versatility and efficiency. However, a single-web press with the same capacity offers the advantages of fewer printing units, paper webs, and crewmembers, Goss points out.)
Not only 2 x 48 and long runs
The advantages of printing 96 pages per impression might suggest that the Sunday 5000 press is designed products in this format. In fact, printers now use the press to produce magazine, tabloid, square tabloid, slim jim, and digest products in an equally varied range of page counts. Goss’ combination and former folding technology and, in particular, the firm’s ingenuity in multi-ribbon angle bar configurations enables this versatility. Operators using these combination folders can divide the 112-inch web into as many as four ribbons per folder. Goss former folders accommodate up to 10 ribbons, providing additional page-count and page-break options. Cantilevered angle bars, automated presetting, push-button controls, and on-the-run adjustments simplify the process of managing multiple web leads and make it fast and easy to change the folder configuration between jobs.
Short-run agility compounds the versatility and output capacity and further extends the application range of the Sunday 5000 press. Automation enables the productivity of the expanded web width to be achieved without a corresponding increase in operator effort, makeready time, and start-up waste.
The Goss Web Center and Omnicon workflow and control systems are vital in this area, managing presets and closed-loop systems, and allowing many mechanical adjustments to be made from the touch-screen console. As a result, these presses are competitive at runs as low as 30,000 copies as well as at run lengths well into the millions and commonly associated with gravure production.
From another perspective, Goss automation allows a company that moves from standard 48-page web production to the Sunday 5000 platform to double its productivity with no increase in crew size and labor requirements.
Goss Automatic Transfer and nonstop edition change options provide additional market-driven opportunities to excel in short-run, versioned applications. Auto transfer technology allows for continuous full-speed operation without stopping the press for version or job changes. Alternatively, with the non-stop edition change option, a press slows down but does not stop for automated version changes with minimal waste.
The Sunday (R)evolution
The Heidelberg-Harris (now Goss) Sunday press sleeve blanket was introduced some 20 years ago. The pivotal moment in modern web press development was the introduction of the gapless Sunday web press, which went online at RR Donnelley’s Danville, Ky. magazine plant in 1993. Eliminating blanket gaps (or minimizing them in the subsequent small-gap press designs) and minimizing plate cylinder gaps (down to 1/16 inch) helped to quell a major source of run disturbance — vibration/cylinder bounce and the resultant print variance. The revolutionary technology eliminated the vibration that had limited the width of twoand four-around presses to 40 inches and 57 inches, respectively, opening the door to higher quality at higher speeds on wider webs. In addition to trimming waste factors up to 5 percent by minimizing non-print areas, the gapless technology opened the door to extreme speeds and to the extremely wide webs that have since come on stream.
The original Sunday 3000 press pushed web printing from 75,000 16-page impressions (2 x 4 magazine pages) per hour to 100,000 iph on presses that were first 50 percent (2 x 6) and then 100 percent (2 x 8) wider. Sunday 4000 press models provided corresponding advantages in the four-around format.
Since being the first to introduce gapless blankets, Goss has used its headstart and unmatched experience to continuously refine the blanket technology itself. This has produced lower blanket costs, premium performance across a wider range of applications and substrates, and a blanket life that commonly exceeds 25 million impressions.
Goss also introduced fully automatic plate changing in 1995. Accumulated experience from more than 4,700 Goss Autoplate printing couples now working reliably in real-world production environments is evident in the Sunday 5000 system. Changing the plates with more than 3 square meters of surface area is a fast, accurate and easily repeatable push-button process for a single operator.
Goss DigiRail digital inking has been installed on well over 5,000 printing couples and is another key innovation supporting the move to a 112-inch web width. The technology enables faster presetting and gives operators more accurate control, minimizing the potential complexity of managing color and ink density across the wider web. The presetting accuracy and stability even allow some jobs to be run without color bars.
Splicing and drying innovations also are key building blocks for the Sunday 5000 platform. With a 7,500-kilogram capacity, the Goss Contiweb FD paster was the first to accommodate paper reels up to 60 inches in diameter, and it provides automated roll handling, consistent tension for wide webs, and average successful splice rates exceeding 99.5 percent.
Within the dryers, integrated chill rolls improve print quality by suppressing condensate, while advanced web guiding improves tension and minimizes web breaks. Goss dryers were the first to incorporate integrated afterburners and to recover and reuse evaporated solvents as fuel. Today, the Ecoset dryer for a Sunday 5000 press requires less energy and produces lower emissions than most competitive dryers for 16-page web presses.
manroland AG Update
Struggling out of bankruptcy since late November 2011 (see January E&P), manroland reportedly continues manufacturing at its German sites without any restrictions; no equipment orders had been canceled as of press time. In fact, a pair of 96-page Lithoman web presses has recently taken up operation, and another was delivered in early January, the company said.
“We now have parties seriously interested in all three production sites in Augsburg, Offenbach, and Plauen, with whom we are involved in ongoing negotiations,” said auditor Werner Schneider of the law firm Schneider, Geiwitz & Partner. To ensure continued operations and save as many jobs as possible, the ultimate aim was to sell key company segments by the end of the current insolvency proceedings Jan. 31.
Kodak Bankrupt, Too
The Wall Street Journal reported in early January that Eastman Kodak Co. was teetering on the brink of filing for Chapter 11 protection. Unidentified sources within the company revealed that discussions already had begun with banks regarding approximately $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings. Less than a week after the WSJ report, amid reorganization buzz, the firm’s eroded stock price rose above 50 cents per share (from 37 cents). The realignment reduces down from three to two business units that, according to a separate WSJ story, “will absorb part of its shrinking film operations as well as new printing technologies on which the company is staking its turnaround.”
But was it too little, too late for the 131-year-old one-time corporate icon? “Eastman Kodak is simply a company with way too much debt and not enough profit,” wrote InvestorPlace.com editor Jeff Reeves on January 10. Nine days later, the once unthinkable happened: Kodak “… decided Chapter 11 was the simplest way to become the leaner digital printing specialist it aspires to be,” is the way BusinessWeek/Bloomberg put it. “Bankruptcy allows sales of the photography divisions and [digital-imaging] patents … to pay off legacy employee benefits and creditors, as [it] focuses … on faster, flexible commercial and consumer digital printers and the company’s superior ink.”
Next month the AmericaEast Technology and Operations Conference returns to Hershey Lodge to unite the news industry. As newspapers evolve to face challenges in the new economy, AmericaEast has evolved to meet those needs. No longer just a production show, AmericaEast features valuable seminars, roundtable discussions, and educational sessions that benefit professionals involved in every aspect of the newspaper business.
Highlights from this year’s program include sessions on user-generated content, the 3-around press, cloud computing, QR codes, daily deals, and seven things newspapers should do better. The exhibit hall will feature a wide variety of suppliers in the pre-press, commercial print, ink supply, digital technology, IT, and online advertising arenas.
Discounted registration is available before Feb. 17. Group discounts are available to companies registering 10 or more people. Visit America-East.com for more information.
NAA mediaXchange April 2-5 Washington, D.C. mediaxchange.naa.org
drupa May 3-16 Düsseldorf, Germany drupa.com