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No going back

Apr 1, 2008 12:00 AM


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Not many people want to deal with a startup company anymore,” says Gary Crescenze, president and CEO of Delmarva Printing (Salisbury, MD). But when another company bought the printing company he worked for, he and some of his fellow workers decided to take a chance on a new venture. They found support and a reliable equipment source in Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA).

With 27 years' experience in the industry and clients already onboard, Crescenze had a pretty good idea what type of equipment he wanted. But as a startup with limited funds, sourcing equipment was a challenge. He had run various manufacturers' printing presses in the past, and Heidelberg's most recently. He says, “We always felt that once we got into Heidelberg, there was no going back,” citing the equipment's reliability and durability. “We had to have a 6-color press of at least 29 inches and a coater,” as well as all the equipment from prepress through the bindery. “Heidelberg was one of the few companies that would say, ‘Yes, we'll sell the equipment to you.’”

That's a big shopping cart

With financing and the investment of as many as one-third of Delmarva's 18 employees, the firm went about selecting equipment for its entire shop floor.

Heidelberg offers two different CTP technologies: the Prosetter line, which is a violet laser device for metal plates; and the thermal Suprasetter line for metal plates, including the Saphira Chemfree plate.

Heidelberg helps shops with the process of evaluating their equipment needs when they make a CTP or press purchase. According to Heidelberg CTP product manager Mark Tonkovich, there are several factors that come into play when determining which CTP device to bundle with a specific press. “We look at what their printing needs are first and then work from the pressroom back out. Once we have that criteria, it will point toward one CTP technology or the other, or sometimes even both.”

When it came time to choose, Crescenze decided to go with the newest technology: chemical-free CTP. “It was a concern of ours,” he says, “because we weren't sure how durable the plates were [metal Saphira Chemfree plates from Heidelberg]. But they told us we shouldn't have anything to worry about and we've had great success with them so far. No fix, no developer, just gum — that's it.” He purchased a Suprasetter A 74 platesetter along with a complete digital front-end Prinect system for the shop's chemical-free prepress area.

“Every [Saphira Chemfree] plate is good for 100,000 run length and 250 line screens,” Tonkovich explains. “But it isn't recommended for UV inks, which are more aggressive, or for a half-million run length.” According to Crescenze, Delmarva's average job runs well below 100,000 impressions, so they haven't had trouble with the run length limitation.

Cost was another important factor. “We're paying almost the identical price for the plate,” says Crescenze. “But because we don't have to buy the chemicals, it's that much less maintenance and disposal that we have to worry about, and it's just one less thing we have to buy. So it's actually a cheaper system.”

Flexibility at startup and into the future

Touted as “the modular CTP systems that expand with your needs,” the Suprasetter family offers versatility in plate handling, format coverage and punching. Configurations range from the 4- or 8-page basic model to the Single Cassette Loader and fully automatic Multi Cassette Loader. The SCL can hold up to 150 plates of 0.15 mm (0.006 inch) thickness in one cassette. With a plate thickness of 0.3 mm (0.012 inch), capacity is still up to 100 plates per cassette. The MCL version offers up to four cassettes for a maximum of 600 plates. The plates can be in one format or a flexible combination of up to four different formats.

Suprasetter has a compact design and temperature stabilizer to help ensure accurate register. Its Intelligent Diode System (IDS) ensures operation can continue with no noticeable drop in performance even if a diode fails due to wear and tear. The 400-sheet capacity slip sheet collecting tray helps eliminate paper jams.

All the status information from the device can be transferred to the Prinect prepress software, where the MIS evaluates the data. The Suprasetter can also be integrated into the JDF-based Prinect Printready System workflow.

“Chemfree plates seem to be a hot button, and they're only available on thermal right now,” says Tonkovich. “[In smaller shops], violet actually was dominating. Then it switched to thermal because of the chemfree technology. But with violet chemfree on the horizon, it will be interesting because violet has a lower cost of ownership. At Drupa, you'll see some interesting developments on violet chemfree plates.”

Efficiently outfitted

Delmarva's Suprasetter 74 makes plates for both of the remarketed presses the company purchased from Heidelberg: a 4-up, 6-color Speedmaster SM 74 with aqueous coater, perfector and extended delivery; and a 2-up, 2-color Printmaster QM 46. “The SM 74 press honestly runs better than some brand new presses I've seen,” says Delmarva's sales and marketing vice president Pete Brown. “These presses are cost-effective and offer sturdy, solid high-quality results.”

The bindery at Delmarva includes a new POLAR 115 X cutter, new Stahlfolder B 26 and Stahlfolder B 20 folders, and a remarketed Stitchmaster ST 90 6-pocket saddlestitcher. “It's nice to have everything, start to finish, from Heidelberg,” says Crescenze, noting it will be helpful from a service standpoint.

Delmarva serves local and regional nonprofits, agencies, industrial companies and small business customers. The shop opened its doors in October 2007 as a general commercial printer budgeted to do $2.2 million in its first year. Crescenze says they're presently on track to exceed that target by nearly $1 million. “It's been very busy and things have been going great,” he says.

Denise Kapel is managing editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at dkapel@americanprinter.com.

Just the CTP facts

A poster at B4Print.com recommends a CTP white paper from Bob Weber Inc., a prepress remarketer. “It's great — it has a lot of straight talk and information about platesetters,” writes the forum participant. “No sales hype or pitches — just good information.” See www.bob-weber.com.

Another take on green CTP

Cultivate Communications in Canoga Park, CA, is on the cutting edge of environmental initiatives. Focused on marketing communications, the firm bases its success on understanding clients' business objectives. In print production, this means maintaining state-of-the-art equipment while upholding a commitment to sustainability. President and CEO Steve Mahr maintains a philosophy not to splurge on fads but to take a customer-oriented and cost-effective approach to applying the latest technologies. Cultivate has achieved green printing certifications from FSC, SFI and PEFC.

Cultivate has been printing product literature, marketing collateral and direct mail products for 30 years. Recently, the shop replaced a 4-color, 40-inch press and a 6-color, 28-inch press with one Presstek 34DI offset press. The firm hopes the new press will help maintain Cultivate's positioning as a premier provider of short- to medium-run printing. Additionally, the press helps promote its commitment to the environment by helping to eliminate VOCs and cut down on spoilage.

Presstek DI presses offer waterless printing and chemistry-free platemaking in a small footprint. A Presstek 52DI reportedly is 50 percent smaller than a conventional 52 cm four-color press. Offering an alternative to toner-based printing or conventional CTP-to-offset print production, DI can handle short runs cost effectively, quickly and with high-quality color.

See www.presstek.com.

Big help for small business

Heidelberg USA (Kennesaw, GA) launched a program for small print businesses in 2006. Called “Printers Advantage,” it is designed to provide information and business solutions to help solve problems unique to small business enterprises. Membership is free and printers need not own a Heidelberg press to register.

See www.printersadvantage.com.

Briefly noted

At Drupa, Agfa (Ridgefield Park, NJ) will introduce :Azura TS, a ThermoFuse-based, chemistry-free, thermal digital plate said to feature a substantial increase in throughput, an advanced cleanout system and improved contrast. For violet platesetters, the vendor will debut :Azura V, a chemistry-free digital plate, and :Aspire, a polymer plate. See www.agfa.com.

Fujifilm (Itasca, IL) will debut the Brillia HD PRO-V chemistry-free violet plate at Drupa. See www.fujifilmusa.com.

Heidelberg (Kennesaw, GA) will launch Suprasetter 145, 162 and 190 thermal platesetters to go with its new Speedmaster XL 145 and XL 162 presses. These machines also can supply plates for other presses up to a sheet width of 74.80 inches. The platesetters are available with throughput speeds up to 35 plates per hour at 2,400 or 2,540 dpi. See www.us.heidelberg.com.

Kodak's (Rochester, NY) CTP introductions include the Magnus 800Z and the XLF 80 Quantum. See www.kodak.com.

Printware (St. Paul, MN) offers a complete line of metal and polyester CTP workflow solutions. PlateStream Violet and Violet 4 are high-quality, manual load/unload CTP engines designed for the 2- and 4-up plate market. Imaging at six mm per second, the PlateStream Violet produces more than 50 2-up or 20 4-up plates per hour. The Printware PlateStream SC and SCX portrait-format digital platesetters feature the Color+registration system, an integrated plate processor, scan-to-plate capability and native PDF workflow. See www.printwarellc.com.

Presstek (Hudson, NH) will show its range of platemakers at Drupa, including the chemistry-free Excel platemaker series with the Anthem Pro grained anodized plate. Anthem Pro delivers run lengths up to 100,000 impressions and produces a visible, high-contrast plate that is daylight-safe before, during and after imaging. See www.presstek.com.

Punch Graphix (Itasca, IL) will showcase a new generation of its basysPrint platesetters for UV plate exposure at Drupa. The UV-Setter 400 and 800 series offer a modular platform and more efficient plate handling for commercial, package, and book printers. Users can choose between semi- and fully automatic versions, with single or multiple cassettes, automatic slip sheet removal, and press-ready punching. Manual versions also are available. See www.punchgraphix.com.

Screen (Rolling Meadows, IL) has sold nearly 12,000 platesetters. The company offers 4-, 8-, 24- and 36-page devices for commercial, newspaper and flexo applications. See www.screenusa.com.

Xanté (Mobile, AL) acquired RIPit Imaging Systems in 2007. RIPit Systems' workflow and CTP solutions (film, polyester and metal) are popular choices for many quick print franchisors. At Graph Expo 2007, the company showcased Impressia GTO, a process-free, 2-up metal platesetter as well as new violet metal plates and chemistry (“Harmony”). The photopolymer digital plates, designed for Xante's platesetters, also are compatible with most other violet laser platesetters. See www.xante.com.

Further reading

Find these articles and more at www.americanprinter.com.

The clean plate club” (April 2007) discusses processless options from Agfa, Kodak, Fuji, Presstek and Xanté.

Flexible options” (April 2006) details user experiences with two-up polyester, metal and processless platesetters from Mitsubishi Imaging, Presstek (Vector), Kodak, RIPit and Heidelberg (Prosetter), along with product news from ECRM, Printware and Glunz & Jensen.

Processor-free CTP” (March 2006) features detailed technical descriptions of thermal and violet processless technology from Agfa, ECRM, Fuji, Heidelberg, Presstek, Kodak, RIPit and Xanté.