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Fast, fancy & flexible

May 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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UV is providing strong growth for equipment and press suppliers, not to mention commercial printers who are expanding into new markets while improving production efficiencies. Here, we present some users' stories.

Impress Communications (Chatsworth, CA) is more than a printer according to Paul Marino, president. Founded in 1989, the 75-employee company specializes in visual communications. The 35,000-sq.-ft. facility includes a 3,000-sq.-ft. photo studio and extensive set building capabilities as well as design and new media departments.

Recent press installations at the all-Komori shop include an 8-color Lithrone S40 with perfector (LS840P) and double coaters and a 6-color Lithrone LSX29 (LSX629) with UV capability. The LSX629 lets the printer accommodate jobs that previously were run on its 40-inch press, enabling it to turn jobs around faster.

“We wanted a press that would fit a large percentage of our jobs,” says Marino. “We thought a [half-size] press would be more efficient and cost effective for different specialty jobs.”

The LSX29 is equipped with a Nordson UV system. “Impress had the first Komori 24 × 29.5-inch press,” explains Marino. “A competitor was trying to make a standard product work, but Nordson was willing to design a new system just for this press. They went the extra mile.”

Impress has produced MetalFX jobs, static clings, Mylar, vinyl and spot UV work. Marino collects virtually every UV job printed on the LSX29 to show customers what can be done. “There's a lot of education,” he says. “When people first think of UV, they think of shiny coating on paper. We show them how to create artwork, brochures, packages, catalogs or whatever they are doing, with more sizzle, to separate them from their competition.”

Impress recently impressed the judges at the PIASC 2008 Print Excellence Awards. The printer won an “Award of Excellence” for specialty printing, as well as “Best of Show” for a 4-color Jamba Juice presentation folder and a self promo demonstrating UV printing on styrene.


UV on a Texas-sized hybrid perfector

Founded in 1956, Buchanan Visual Communications (Dallas) has changed with the times. Lyn and Dave Johnson bought the firm in 1980, and in 2003, they phased out conventional presses in favor of perfectors. The Texas printer runs three 40-inch sheetfed Mitsubishi perfectors in its 75,000-sq.-ft. plant: a 4-color and an 8-color Diamond 3000R with single coaters; and a 12-color Double Diamond perfector equipped for aqueous and UV coating.

Buchanan's 17-unit, 12-color D3000R-CC was installed in September 2006. The 100-ft.-long press prints up to 13,000 sph and is configured for printing with conventional inks, energy-curable inks and coatings, and combination hybrid/aqueous applications. Chamber/anilox coaters are located after the sixth and twelfth printing units; an interdeck UV curing system incorporates technology from Grafix LLC; two dryers can be positioned after printing units two, four or six; and there are stub unit dryers before and after the coaters.

Buchanan's Double Diamond can print on paper, board or plastic up to 24-pt. — from 6/6 work with two-sided coating to straight 12-color printing with spot coating to full-coverage coating.

At an April 2007 open house, Buchanan and Mitsubishi put the press through its paces. (See “On the double,” AMERICAN PRINTER, July 2007.)

In a recent e-mail blast, Lyn Johnson, marketing director, invited customers to think of the company's inline UV capabilities as “a launch pad for flights of creative fantasy, printing what previously only could be imagined.”

“It sounds silly,” Johnson acknowledged. “But we want to get people thinking out of the box.”

Johnson's e-mail message explained that the new press can print six colors plus a coating on each side of the sheet in perfecting mode or up to 12 colors plus two coatings on a single side. Customers could learn more about coating basics as well as request samples. To show customers the look and feel of a specific coating, Buchanan printed about 20 different coaster-sized swatches, punched a single hole in the top left corner and linked them together on a single ring.

“Our plant manager and I got the idea of coated swatches [in response to customers' and salespeople's questions],” says Dave Newcomb, pressroom manager. “It wasn't originally intended as a marketing tool, but it has turned into a pretty neat one.”


Dry on the fly

UV benefits at Lake County Press (LCP) (Waukegan, IL) include environmental advantages, substrate flexibility and speed. The 250-employee, $51-million operation has six Heidelberg presses ranging from 29 inches to 41 inches. In 2005, LCP gained some UV experience with an 8-unit Speedmaster 102. Its most recent addition is an IST-equipped, 8-color Speedmaster XL 105.

“About 50 percent of our work is for the design community,” says Pete Douglas, LCP's senior vice president of marketing. “We're doing a lot of high end, multicolor projects. The XL 105 lets us utilize plastics, vinyl and a lot of uncoated papers.”

As a 100-percent solid process, UV is VOC-free, a good fit for LCP, which is FSC, SFI and PEFC certified. The printer also likes the speed and special effects it can achieve on its two fully interdecked UV presses. “Sheets are dry when they come off, so you have quick turnaround,” says Douglas. “The ink really sits on top [of the substrate], so you have a much more vibrant color reproduction. We also can do a lot more tricky design elements, such as raised coatings on coated or uncoated stocks or fragrance impregnated scents that can be applied to the coating unit.”

LCP has produced a self-promo piece demonstrating some of the effects it can achieve. Speed and size are the biggest difference between LCP's SM 102 and its new XL 105. The 18,000-sph press offers a 29 × 41-inch sheet size. “We can run more up on a sheet and net less impressions, so that will save us some money,” says Douglas. “But the sheets per hour are huge. We can run 16,000 to 17,000 sph and cure inks at 18,000 sph. On our other UV press, we're only able to redline at 15,000 and run it at maybe 10,000 to 12,000, so that's a big difference on a larger run.” Douglas also notes that the XL 105's lamps are positioned closer to the sheet for quicker curing.

A special lift for the XL presses lets LCP run larger loads. “We quickly found out with [our other] XL 105 CD, a 6-color press we installed in July 2007, that 18,000 sph on thick substrates poses a challenge. We were running an 18-pt. magazine insert at 18,000 sph and changing loads every 3.5 minutes. The lift lets us run longer before load changes.”


Efficiency, special effects and ecology

3S printers (Richmond, BC) is a privately-held general commercial printer. In 2006, the 45-employee, 30,000-sq.-ft. printer replaced three presses, ranging in age from 10 to 15 years old, with a KBA Rapida 105 41-inch, 8-color sheetfed press with perfecting, UV hybrid and inline coating capabilities. (The firm's digital capabilities include two Xerox DocuColors and a DocuTech.)

“We're the first printer in Canada and western North America to have this type of press,” says Dave Sandhu, president. He cited three reasons for offering UV: “First, we gain time using UV inks, because the UV inks harden instantly when exposed to UV lights thus turning the job immediately. Second, there is a quality achievement; high-speed curing eliminates the need for spray powder, so the gloss of the ink is not impaired. Finally, we reap the benefits of ecology because UV curing eliminates the need for solvents in the ink, so there are no VOC emissions.”

Sandhu notes that in addition to eliminating gas ghosting and dryback, the UV-equipped press lets the company do special effects in one pass, an impossible proposition on the legacy straight presses. 3S is taking advantage of the vibrant “pop” UV gives uncoated papers and doing more high-end printing.

The Rapida 105 has a Grafix UV package as well as KBA's Logotronic management system and KBA's Densitronic S closed-loop color control system. To keep up with the new press, 3S has replaced its Trendsetter platesetter with a Kodak Lotem 800 platesetter and a JDF-based Heidelberg Stahl folder and Polar cutter.


Sign of the times

Designer Graphics (Tyler, TX) prints political materials for local, state and national campaigns. Pressroom highlights at the 40,000-sq.-ft. union shop include a Ryobi 755 23 × 29-inch press with Adphos Eltosch dryer as well as a Ryobi DI press. Dana Mueller, owner and CEO, says the six-unit press with UV capabilities can have the job done before larger competing shops are in register.

“Everything flows so easily — from the computer to the press to the first sheet off the press,” says Mueller. “We produce a lot of time-sensitive material and a quick turnaround is critical. [With the UV press,] we can be at color in 50 sheets, we're in register shortly after the press is up and running and the job is printed quickly. The color is accurate, the project is dry, it goes straight to quality control, then to the cutter, the folder and out the door.”

Designer Graphics' hybrid press configuration uses Bottcher rollers; inks vary, but the printer typically uses products from Flint, Inx and Wickoff.

Garrick Hayes, Designer Graphics' general manager, adds that UV has paved the way for more plastics work, including polystyrene, rigid vinyl and pressure-sensitive vinyl. The company also has printed foil board for printers without UV equipment. Several of Designer Graphics' customers have opted for chemically embossed printing, a technique using overprint UV varnish and gloss UV varnish to create an embossed effect. (xpedx distributes Ryobi presses in North America.)


Katherine O'Brien joined AMERICAN PRINTER in 1996. Contact her at

Get your 2008 guide

The PrintCity Alliance has a released a new edition of “Optimized Sheetfed UV Printing Best Practice Guide.” To order, see

A compendium of coating tips

Issue No. 4 of KBA's technical magazine, Process, features an overview of coating types, drying and curing tips as well as an article on how to test the hardness of UV coatings. See

Wide-gamut ink

Toyo Ink America (Addison, IL) has launched UV Kaleido ink. Kaleido Ink formulations expand the CMYK gamut to nearly the full Adobe RGB gamut, reportedly resulting in inks that offer richer, deeper colors than conventional 4-color process inks. See