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Under the Hood

Presstek 34DI-ECO UV

Brian Sims looks at a machine with an extremely small footprint but a very large capacity for production due to direct imaging plate production

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Powerful printer: the Presstek 34DI-ECO UV has a very large capacity for production due to direct imaging (DI) plate production

Small is beautiful

With traditional markets shrinking, the printer needs always to be at the fore front of trying to ensure they have the edge. You may think if you are a printer at the smaller end of the spectrum, there was little advantages that could be offered by manufacturers.

When you are printing small run lengths, straight forward four colour work; there was little opportunity to reduce costs or increase production. Presstek would beg to differ, as within their stable a very compact but highly productive press.

The Presstek 34DI-ECO-UV is a machine with an extremely small footprint, but a very large capacity for production due to direct imaging (DI) plate production. Added to this, the speed of production itself is shortened to extremely small values by the use of a clever UV LED drying system.
 
Direct imaging presses were supposed to be the panacea for all our problems, reducing the need for plate rooms and reducing down time. Plates being produced on press would reduce staffing levels, and lower factory footprints.


Plates being produced on press would reduce staffing levels, and lower factory footprints

This type of press did not take off due to the levels expected as at one point the logic was seen as flawed. Exposure time meant the press was unproductive at this make-ready time and finally, you ended up having four expensive ‘plate makers’ on press in hostile conditions. Does not take you too long to work out, the issues of ‘diminishing returns’ come home to roast.
 
Whilst the use of the DI concept may not work for B1 or even B2 formats, just think on a little and it maybe starts to become functional on B3 where run lengths start to drop further and where the unproductive time is not so much of an impact due the profile of production.
 
Presstek presses can be found throughout the country in the retail and short-run print sector. It was their engineers and designers who cracked the plate issue and added into the solution waterless press chemistry and finally added the UV-LED drying system. DI presses are now an attractive offering.

Enter the Presstek 34DI, a waterless printing press with four simultaneous imaging heads that process a continuously feed plate film contained from within the plate cylinder so no plate changes are required.

Look under the covers and you can see a very clearly designed presses; certainly not an evolution product.

At its heart is a common impression cylinder, which means the four colours are transposed to the sheet without a gripper exchange. This clearly means that the issue of accurate sheet handling, a problem with smaller presses, is overcome in this design.

Two blankets


The VEE type of press design means there are two blankets on one blanket cylinder meaning two colours are printing via one unit. The second ‘pair’ of colours is on a second blanket cylinder in the second unit. This means the black and cyan colours are imposed on the sheet first passing through unit 1 and 2. During a second rotation around the impression cylinder the first blanket cylinder prints the magenta colour and then the second pass under unit two blanket cylinder finally prints the yellow colour. This very clever system of paper transfer and printing is known by Presstek is called Zero Transfer Printing (ZTP).
   

Look under the covers and you can see a very clearly designed press from Presstek

As for the plate cylinder design, the ‘plates’ are contained on a roll that is indexed forward for each new image. Each cylinder can contain enough plate material for up to 44 plate images before it needs changing; impressive.

To image each of the four plates simultaneously, each plate cylinder is equipped with a Pro Fire Excel imaging unit, which simultaneously images at 2,540dpi in 4.5 minutes. The plate cylinders are declutched and independently running at 300rpm during the imaging process.

The Pro Fire Excel imaging unit is a 16µ laser unit producing sharp, well defined dots up to 300lpi and FM screening. Presstek claims that you can go from job to job within ten minutes, which includes imaging of the four plates.

To further reduce the make-ready time and encumbrance to print, the Presstek engineers have opted for a waterless, chemistry free offset system. By doing this they not only reduce issues of ink water balance, but reduce to a minimum any plate production issues. This means the press and systems also scores highly on its green credentials.

Adding the final level of high productivity is the DI ECO-UV system, which uses LED technology to dry the printing material in one pass making them ready for either finishing or delivery directly from the press.

The LED lamp head is positioned in the delivery system and due to the well embedded UV technology this means IR heat and power consumption is far lower than standard UV drying systems. The other major step forward Presstek has made is the lifespan of the LED lamps heads themselves. You can expect up to 20,000 hours from the drying system, which is an impressive figure.

With the ECO-UV system you can print on board, vinyl, plastic and paper whilst colours being vibrant, durable and scuff resistant. The control panel itself is so small it fits behind press control panel and the UV touch screen itself sticks by magnetics to the side of the press itself.

The control panel itself is so small it fits behind press control panel and the UV touch screen itself sticks by magnetics to the side of the press

When you take the second and deeper look into the Presstek 34DI, you can see where the press has its roots buried well in the traditional offset sector. The build quality through this machine is solid, with robust cast iron frames, double width bearings and sheet control systems such as a vacuum sheet side lay and a feeder table more accustomed to being found on a B2 or B1 printing press.
 
Being able to ‘print to numbers’ is an increasing necessity for all printers and smaller format presses and sometimes lacked this capability. Not the Presstek 34DI ECO-UV: it comes with either a densitometer in the form of the Presstek The Printing Density Control System (PDS-E) enables operators to easily match printed output or have the option PDS-ProE spectrophotometer extends the benefits by working with ICC profiles taking spectrophotometric readings.

Whilst the size of this press is small, clearly the production capacity of the 34DI ECO-UV is quite overwhelming.


Brian Sims, principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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