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The whole package

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Lake County Press (LCP), a $51 million, 250-employee shop in Waukegan, IL, always has added value to its conventional print jobs by offering in-house diecutting. But as the company grew and earned a reputation for its specialty diecuts and packaging, more and more diecutting had to be sent out to trade shops. Last year, the company took steps to both increase this value added segment of the business and keep more diecutting and packaging dollars in-house.

Packaging is an offshoot of LCP's general commercial printing base and currently one of its major growth areas, along with digital printing and an “LCP Complete” division. LCP Complete provides warehousing, mailing and fulfillment services from a 77,000-sq.-ft. facility adjacent to the printing plant.

“We are not the 80/20-rule business,” says Pete Douglas, senior vice president and director of marketing. “We have a very diverse client base, which we break down into 20 distinct market segments.” About half of LCP's work is derived from the design and advertising community. He explains, “Whether we're doing work directly for those clients or those clients are specifying us to do the work, often our work is in that segment. We're doing annual reports, quarterly brochures, packaging — all the different types of print products might be directed or influenced by those particular people.”

In March 2007, LCP installed a 29 x 41-inch Dymatrix 106 CSB diecutter from Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA).

“That's enabled us to enter into more of the packaging market, which was one of our targets when we were looking to install the diecutter,” says Douglas. “That diecutter as well as our new CD UV press will enable us to do more of the boutique type of packaging work.”

Pedal to the metal

“Previously, we had a Nikko HotStar that took us into the diecutting market,” says plant manager Dan Murphy. “But our diecutting work was exceeding the equipment, so we needed to increase our production levels and get higher speed. This [Dymatrix] press allows us to run at 9,000 sph, and we were averaging just over 3,000 sph with our old diecutter.”

Murphy spent a lot of time looking at diecutters from the various vendors, attending open houses and seeing demos. In the end, he and Douglas settled on Heidelberg's latest model. “The main reason was that the automation exceeded some of the competitors,” says Douglas. “And, it seemed to run lightweight stock better than the others.”

LCP has a longstanding relationship with Heidelberg, which made it easier for them to trust that their new packaging line would be serviced and supported up to their standards.

The shop runs six presses — all Heidelbergs — ranging from 29- to 41-inch formats. Four of them are equipped with carton diameter (CD) cylinders. LCP installed its 6-color Heidelberg XL 105 CD press in June 2007, which sends a lot of new business through the Dymatrix. “It enables us to run heavier-point board, as well as plastics and vinyl,” says Douglas. “It replaced a press that was running at around 9,000 sph. The new press runs at 18,000 sph, so that was double the production. In addition to that, we just recently installed a 41-inch, 8-color Speedmaster XL 105 CD fully interdecked UV press with coater, which was up and running in January 2008.”

“We have three older diecutters that we still use on a daily basis, but the main share of it is done on the Dymatrix, now,” says Douglas. “If it's a sheet under 29 inches, it would go on our Heidelberg Cylinder, which is an old machine.” The Heidelberg Cylinder is a 22 × 32-inch machine. LCP also runs a 10 × 15-inch Heidelberg Windmill Platen diecutter and a 14 × 20-inch Miehle Vertical Cylinder model, which handles shorter runs and diecutting jobs from the company's digital division. Since installing the Dymatrix, Douglas says, 90 percent of LCP's diecutting work is done in-house.

Big changes

The Dymatrix represented the beginning of a major upgrade for LCP. It offers automated features their older diecutters didn't have — as well as the full-size format — increasing their diecutting capacity, speeding makereadies and eliminating handwork.

“The first thing we had to do was put a different door in just to get it into the building,” says Murphy. “And then we had to do quite a bit of work to prep the floor for it — we had to dig and pour a new pad both for the weight of the machine and to create a space for the automated scrap removal system.”

In addition to automated scrap removal, the machine adds blanking to LCP's diecutting capabilities. “We have a stripping section and a blanking section on this. So we can actually produce a finished product off of the diecutter or finish-cut the product — it might still have to go through a folder, but it takes the hand stripping function out of the job,” Murphy explains.

The Dymatrix has an optical (rather than mechanical) side guide, “So if you have consecutive sheets that come off the press that didn't necessarily register, you can compensate for that automatically,” says Murphy. All of the setup is done electronically at the machine, so Douglas notes setup is much faster than on their older diecutters. It scores and perforates stocks down to 60 lb., and Murphy says it can blank stocks down to 80 lb. “Most manufacturers will tell you that you really can't do that,” says Murphy. “We just did it. We laid it out in such a way to make it work.”

Heidelberg provided operator training on the new diecutter and continues to support LCP staff. “We actually had the product manager for the diecutting to our facility two or three times,” says Douglas. “They met with our employees who are working on the machine, and they met with our customer service reps to educate them as to what the capabilities are. They also met with our sales force on three separate occasions to educate them on the capabilities and what we need to do to make projects run efficiently on that piece of equipment.”

“It's ongoing,” Murphy adds. “As we get projects that are new to us, I can call them and get advice on how to set it up best. It also has maintenance schedules built into the electronics, it keeps production data, and it's hooked up to a remote service linked directly to Germany so we can have diagnostics done remotely.”

Bringing customers up to speed

LCP relies on its commissioned sales force to spread the word about the new diecutting and packaging capabilities. They also recently held a tour in conjunction with Heidelberg and the Chicago Litho Club.

“We've done some mailings to promote the diecutter, and we are going to be putting together a packaging promotion piece to sell and promote our packaging capabilities, which the diecutter ties into,” says Douglas. “But we've always done diecutting here. The compelling reason for us to buy the machine was a matter of being able to do things now that increase our value-added sales vs. sending it out and having someone else do it for us. We looked at the amount of money we were spending out of house, then made the decision to bring the new piece of equipment in and bring those dollars in to increase our value-added component.”

The products run on the Dymatrix include pocket-folded covers, packaging such as software boxes, CD holders, plastic cardholders, POS/POP work and diecut covers. “On corporate annual report projects, oftentimes, we'll score the covers [on the Dymatrix] before we send it to the perfect binder to get a nice quality hinge score,” says Douglas. It's a specialty area that benefits LCP's general commercial printing business with added value on jobs that used to require jobbing out, as well as increased speed and efficiency for quick turnarounds.


Denise Kapel is managing editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at


The 2009 IADD/FSEA Odyssey, sponsored by the International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD) and the Foil Stamping and Embossing Association (FSEA), will be held in Atlanta May 6-9, 2009.


Latest Dymatrix debuts at Drupa

At Drupa, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG presented the Dymatrix 106 Pro CSB (cutting, stripping, and blanking) diecutter, equipped with a new set of features vs. the Dymatrix 106 CSB. These include an optional automatic feed system, DySet, which aligns the sheets precisely prior to transfer to the gripper. The core element of DySet is an optical sheet sensor. It is now possible to align the sheet laterally with reference to the printing marks or print image, which is crucial when processing reel stock. A new belt table and feeder help with sheet separation and guidance.

The maximum sheet format of the Dymatrix 106 Pro CSB is 76 × 106 cm (29.92 × 41.73 inches), matching Speedmaster XL 105 press output. It processes substrates from 80-gsm and above paper to 2,000-gsm cardstock and corrugated board up to a 4-mm (0.16-inch) thickness.

At a processing speed up to 9,000 sph with a 330-ton cutting force, the Dymatrix 106 Pro CSB is geared toward folding carton manufacturers and postpress specialists. The pallets and pallet heights can be adjusted to match the press, and the diecutter can be integrated via the Prinect workflow. See

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