Left side advert image
Right side advert image
Super banner advert image
Subscribe to Print Monthly's RSS feed

Enter your email address here to sign up for our weekly newsletter

Trade Comment

The Litho market in 2018

Despite the influx of digital kit, litho still holds a strong position in the industry. Brendan Perring asks: “How do you see the offset litho market evolving in 2018?”

Article picture

Bob Usher, managing director, Apex Digital Graphics

Ongoing evolution

The litho market will continue to evolve in 2018 thanks to the now proven technology using RMGT (Ryobi) presses configured with LED-UV drying.
Commercial printers are recognising that the technology can offer them one of the most significant advances in litho printing in the past 20 years. The instant drying capability actually opens up new markets on a range of substrates, while providing the lowest cost, highest quality printed sheet on the market.

Furthermore, I am pleased to confirm we have been successful in securing sales into the digital market, where print providers are now enjoying the significant cost reduction in printed sheets, machinery maintenance, and paper costs when utilising substrates that require no pre-coating. Further benefits are reduced power consumption, when compared to many of the B2 digital devices.

Commercial printers are recognising that the technology can offer them one of the most significant advances in litho printing in the past 20 years

The combination of LED-UV and SRA1 sheet size offers a wide range of benefits to the commercial printer, including the ability to immediate back-up a job or transfer it straight to finishing, eliminating piles of work on the shop floor.

Customers are attracted to the format as it gives them a sheet capable of supporting eight A4 pages to view, combined with a machine that still has the footprint of an SRA2 press.
For printers upgrading from SRA2, we are providing a highly productive press, capable of printing more than twice the amount of work, but occupying the same floor space as their previous machine. There is tremendous potential, therefore, for printers to reduce the amount of hardware that they need to purchase, run, and service.

Automation and colour

Graham Moorby, joint managing director, Printers Superstore

Litho print continues to be alive and well thanks to a constant evolution in press technology, largely driven by competition with alternative production technologies, especially digital.

Automation and colour control are key areas; faster makereadies with fewer run-up sheets mean competitiveness on ever-lower run lengths, with less operator intervention required, and less waste.

The big news in offset in recent years is LED-UV curing, which allows instant drying without the use of spray powder, and a much cleaner working environment with less harmful fumes. Work comes off the press ready for finishing or work-and-turn. These features remove key advantages of digital print and strengthen the case for short run litho going forward. Modern printers need to be on the lookout for new niche markets, and LED-UV allows for printing on a variety of substrates.

Recent developments in software and web-to-print systems have allowed jobs to be ‘ganged’ more easily and efficiently, bringing production efficiencies and cost benefits.

The big news in offset in recent years is LED-UV curing

Printers also need to look at how digital and litho equipment can work together. The proportion of print used in the marketing mix has risen, as the benefits of offering customers a tangible product have been shown to be effective compared to electronic communication.

However, ´ordinary? print is not enough in this context. While a campaign may include a personalised letter and have an email element, the impact and the shelf life is provided by the litho print. Printers choose litho because they can produce on specialist stocks. We are now selling five colour presses as the norm, because the use of special colours is more prevalent.

Effects such as coating are also popular to provide added value to promotional print. New and exciting finishing processes, such as laser die cutting, are helping to provide new and striking designs at low cost.

Enhancing connectivity

Steve Turner, Director of sheetfed sales, Komori UK

We expect to see even greater utilisation of digital communication technologies, further broadening the applications of the offset process to satisfy the diversifying demand for short run printed collateral.

Optimisation of data exchange through the Internet of Things is key to strengthening this connectivity between customer, prepress, press and postpress, and can even play a part on determining the selection of the most appropriate consumables to suit current production techniques.

The latest low energy accelerated drying systems have opened a new world for offset printers in producing print on demand and presenting new creative design and marketing options for customers.

This reaches far beyond faster turnround, encompassing enhanced quality, appearance and increasing the opportunities to print fast and flawlessly on substrates which were previously considered difficult, even unsuitable, to use on traditional commercial offset presses. We expect to reach new heights in the number and variety of installed press configurations of these fast drying systems.

We expect to see even greater utilisation of digital communication technologies

Although these will remain predominantly sheet fed, we are experiencing a renewed interest in web offset presses, as the latest immediate drying processes present the market with extraordinary new production, quality, and installation benefits on 16-page web machines. Producing finished products at over 30,000sph on an offset press similar in size to an eight colour long-perfector, without the need or cost for separate, space-consuming hot air drying systems, but still with similar fast make ready efficiencies is certainly a stimulant for consideration.

For printers and brand owners, inline control of colour, register and the minutest image and text content is becoming essential, and we expect to see increased demand for colour controls such as our PQA-S, which meets the latest M standards for paper with optical brightening agents.

As fast offset drying technologies deliver more varied printed products to post press, printers are recognising the benefits of digital connectivity between press and finishing equipment. Faster setup and turnround increasingly needs to cover commercial and packaging applications, which can include intricate cutouts and needs to cover digital and variable production, too.

Bring work home

Chris Scully, sales director, KBA UK

The uncertainty over Brexit has created some positives and negatives for the UK. After recent visits to print companies in the UK, it appears that some previously offshored work is coming back to the UK, with some companies reporting sharp increases in the volumes of work they are producing. I suspect the weak Pound, and to-date, no clear regulations regarding imports and supply chains has prompted companies to produce in the UK until the picture becomes clearer.

The concept of Industry 4.0 will continue to drive innovation for us. We will continue to see even further development in press control technology with our Rapida Live App and the integration with MIS systems.

Customers understand the benefits of moving towards concepts like autonomous printing such as KBA’s Auto Run, where the press produces jobs without operator involvement.

KBA has been a market leader in providing inspection systems with our presses for many years and with the new generation automatic inspection systems such as Print Check and Quali Tronic PDF we take this to new levels in the desire for ‘Defect Free Print’. With these systems, customers can enjoy the press running, inspecting the content of the jobs and dealing with faulty sheets fully automatically.

The Rapida RDC 106 is an exciting concept in reducing finishing set up times

We expect the take up of LED UV to grow further. The technology has been highly successful for us and our customers. We have some key reference sites that are reaping the benefits that this technology offers and they are clearly ahead of the game in producing their work this way.

The Rapida RDC 106 is an exciting concept in reducing finishing set up times as well as increasing production speeds for die cutting. We have good reports from our reference sites and interest is high.

Also for packaging markets we expect the trend for extended gamut printing to continue. A reduction in the use of spot colours in packaging is highly desirable and we recently announced the installation of ESKO’s equinox software at our demo centre in Dresden.

Your text here...
Print printer-friendly version Printable version Send to a friend Contact us

No comments found!  

Sign in:


or create your very own Print Monthly account  to join in with the conversation.

Top Right advert image
Top Right advert image

Poll Vote

What is your top priority for 2020?

Top Right advert image