While maintaining the highest quality of printing standards, large-format offset press manufacturers are helping their customers meet the challenges of flexible and efficient production operations.

Efficiency is the name of the game throughout the printing industry. From prepress to on-press and post-press, printers are taking advantage of the continuing developments offered by industry suppliers to produce higher quality work with less material usage and in less time.

Large-format offset press suppliers are working to keep pace with the industry’s needs for higher efficiencies by offering faster speeds, quicker makereadies, and a high-degree of on-press automation. And as you will see in the following examples, printers are investing in these technology developments to both improve productivity in their operations and to attract new business and new customers.

Annan & Bird Lithographers

Annan & Bird Lithographers, a Consolidated Graphics, Inc. company located in Mississauga, Ontario, has purchased a Heidelberg 64˝ Speedmaster XL 162 VLF press. The 6-color press features Prinect Inpress Control in-line color measurement and control, as well as an aqueous coater.

The company is a large-format printer which specializes in POP; dimensional graphics reproduction; and lenticular and special effects in printing and fulfillment. “The purchase of the new 64˝ Heidelberg is a further testament to Annan & Bird’s commitment to answering our customers’ demands to improve quality, support brand integrity through repeat consistency, and shorten turn times, all while reducing the environmental impact of print,” says John Bird, president of Annan & Bird.

Heidelberg’s Business Consulting Team worked closely with Consolidated Graphics to perform a comprehensive, fact-based analysis of Annan & Bird’s overall productivity needs. Because Annan & Bird’s production audit was based on actual data retrieved from the company’s MIS, results of the analysis were noteworthy for their practical application in the selection of the configuration that would best meet the company’s needs.

“This was a data-driven process,” said Ric Davis, EVP, purchasing and operations for Consolidated Graphics. “We used our own data and job files to highlight the differences between presses and reveal the best choice for Annan & Bird, and in the end, all that analysis simplified our purchase decision. This strategic investment further strengthens our offset printing capabilities, and in particular, boosts Annan & Bird’s commitment to its packaging business.”

Foster Printing Co.

Foster Printing Co., a large-format trade printer based in Santa Ana, Calif., purchased a KBA Rapida 205 81˝ large-format 6-color UV press set for installation in the fourth quarter of 2012. The new press joins two KBA large-format 64˝ presses—a 5-color conventional and a 6-color UV—at the firm’s 46,000 sq. ft. facility.

Established in 1922, the company’s customers include brokers, printers,designers, corrugators, and distributors. The majority of its work is color packaging, POP displays, signage, and posters.

“Over the last four years we have seen tremendous growth in our business,” says Kris Blackburn, VP of sales at Foster Printing. “Sales over the past year and a half have been especially good for us. We constantly had customers asking if we could print anything larger than our 64˝ capabilities. Those customers, along with solid research into new potential customers, pushed us to finally decide on making this important purchase.

“We will now be able to service all of our customers’ offset printing needs,” continues Blackburn. “We plan to capitalize on the ability to print multiple forms for customers—some that may fit our 64˝ KBA presses and others that fit our 81˝ press. It will also give us an advantage in productivity by being able to go multiple up on the Rapida 205 81˝ press where we would only be able to go one-up on the 64˝press.”

Having moved to a new larger facility last year, the company has the space for the new press addition, along with peripheral equipment. This includes a new fully-automated platesetter for the CtP department giving Foster the ability to produce both 64˝ and 81˝plates, and a new automated cutting system. “All of these purchases feature automated systems that will help us turn jobs quickly from pre-production, to press, to post-production,” says Blackburn.

“We anticipate that the Rapida 205 will open up new doors of opportunity for us with new customers ,as well as allowing our current customers to bring all of their work to one shop,” he adds. “We also plan to expand our sales positioning to other parts of the United States, not just Southern California.”

Epic Litho

Epic Litho has installed a 40˝ Komori Lithrone G40 at its headquarters in Phoenixville, Pa. The state-of-the-art press has a maximum printing speed of 15,000 sheets per hour and includes an automatic plate process using a benderless clamp, which eliminates the need to bend plates and ultimately improves efficiency. It also includes an H-UV curing system that allows for a shortened printing and drying time while maintaining high quality.

Epic Litho is a printing and packaging company that has been serving customers in the mid-Atlantic region for more than 40 years. It provides a variety of services, including high-definition UV printing, digital printing, direct mail, online solutions, large-format printing, warehousing, and fulfillment.

“I am thrilled to announce the installation of Komori’s Lithrone G40 press and to offer our customers such a distinctive and outstanding service,” said Jim Rowland, president of Epic Litho. “This press will further provide our valued clients with the newest and most innovative printing options on the market today. In addition to the high-quality printing produced by the Lithrone, we were also drawn to its ‘green’ factor. With traditional presses producing more than 3,000 pounds of VOCs and HAPs each year, the Lithrone G40 produces zero. We are excited to utilize this sustainable technology and to create premium, environmentally-friendly prints both quickly and efficiently.”

Carolina Graphic Services

Carolina Graphic Services has selected a manroland offset press for its most recent press purchase. The manroland R906-6 LV, 56˝ 6-color press with a coating module is to be installed in the fourth quarter of this year at its new print production facility in the Greensboro, N.C. area. This new press will complement an existing 64˝ 6-color manroland press that was purchased in 2006.

Carolina Graphic Services provides large-format printed products for point-of-sale (POS) packaging using recyclable eco-friendly materials. Ron Woodward, sales manager of Carolina Graphics says, “We decided to stay with manrolandfor our next press based on our history together. Once our newest press is installed into the new plant, manroland will then move our existing R906-7 LV into its new home.

“In addition to the press purchase, we are also utilizing manroland PRINTVALUE program offerings by purchasing a closed-loop inker upgrade and additional training, as well as the press move,” adds Woodward. “We lookforward to utilizing the additional capacity.”

Lewisburg Printing Co.

Lewisburg Printing Co., a family-owned company specializing in commercial projects and label production, has acquired its second Mitsubishi sheetfed press in less than two years. The 7-color Diamond V3000LX with a Grafix UV curing system will support the company’s growth strategy by providing its customers with high quality and quicker turnarounds on a wider variety of products.

Installation of the new 29-1/2˝ x 41-11/32˝ machine took place in the third quarter at Lewisburg Printing’s manufacturing facility in Lewisburg, Tenn. It replaced two 40˝ Mitsubishi presses with aqueous coaters.

“We printed many millions of impressions on those two presses,” remarks Hale Hawkins, CEO. “We are confident the Diamond V3000LX will generate as muchproduction—or even more—as the two combined.”

Packaging-related work has become the driving force in Lewisburg Printing’s business plans. With 97 employees and 160,000 sq. ft. of space spread out over multiple production and storage facilities located nearby each other, thecompany provides cut-and-stack labels, top sheets for corrugated packaging, POP displays, short-run, and digital printing.

The Diamond V3000LX accommodates a range of substrates. “We typically run 60-pound litho paper up to 40-point board, so the wider stock range will come in extremely handy,” Hawkins says. “Using UV printing on the top sheets for the corrugated industry, as well as being able to print on plastics in this sheet size will open doors with some customers.”

Hawkins said the larger sheet size will create efficiencies in scheduling and materials usage. “Everyone tries to push the size limit on 28˝ x 40˝ work,” he explains. “Switching to 29-1/2˝ x 41-11/32˝ sheets will help maximize the use of sheet space to output larger quantities. In addition, jobs that ordinarily would move up to the 56˝ press can be run on the Diamond V3000LX.”