Digital transition....

Craig

Well-known member
I am a mostly digital shop, we do have a ABDick 9870 for small 1 and 2 color work. I am noticing that my runs on my xerox 8000AP are getting a bit longer and almost all are static prints, no VDP. So my question is, I am thinking about transitioning to a 4 color offset but I am a bit befuddled about which way to go. I'm not to interested in going any larger than 52cm, and I would want some automation (auto plate loading, blanket wash..). Any suggestions on what to look at and what NOT to look at?
 

floriankohl

New member
just my 0,02€: I'd stay away from DI machines, with inline plate imaging. they might look like a nice way of having an offset machine seem like a network printer to the casual user but you're basically coupling your slowest device with your fastest (plate imaging does take a while even if the rest is all automated). I'd go for a used ryobi (whatever format floats your boat), with full automation incl. inkwells and what not and "offline" plate imaging.
 

joz_4y

Member
can't resist to answer your question ;-)
check first: what do I need to print in offset?
- a press
- a digital plate maker, indeed, plate loading is much faster then digital imaging
- a pressman? if you buy a 4c press, it will have to run more hours then your 1&2c press
- money ;-)
- a reliable machine dealer!
Ryobi is good/cost efficient for basic printing, do you want more quality a Heidelberg is a must.
look for a reliable 2nd hand Hberg SM52 series.
good luck!
 

Keith

Well-known member
Craig, you can get one of those Xerox CiPress! Inkjet web- longer runs and still digital! Only $3.8 MILLION!

Ha! Ha! Ha!:D

Keith

P.S. Wouldn't "Offset transition..." be a more appropriate title?
 
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tulsadir

Member
what is a long run on your 8000ap? i am looking at 5000 and 8000's curious what kind of work you can get out of your 8000
 

jotterpinky

Well-known member
We felt like we were in the same boat as you about 6 months ago. We were outsourcing many runs over 5000 pieces that were just not cost effective on our digital equipment...sometimes we would run digital just to get it turned quicker but the cost was a bit more.

We looked at several press options. The first was a DI press because they are so inexpensive up front in the used market. They looked like a nice introduction to 4-color offset. After looking at the second hand market a while we found that many operators did not like the wait time imaging new plates. One pressman mentioned that on an older Heidi DI they would occasionally get plates that were out of register and would have to re-image all FOUR plates to get back into register...he said it was horrible because they could never get anything printed, just spent all their time imaging I believe it took up to 15 minutes for a set of plates which meant the machine was not printing during this time. This and many other comments about how picky they are with regard to temperature fluctuations and problems with toning using the waterless method caused us to take a step back. You are also at the mercy of Presstek with regard to plates and parts. However listening to several comments on this forum it sounds as though many people were making good money with this equipment so we took another look later on. We went to an onsite demo of a shop with one with the presstek service technician. We spoke with that particular operator and he loved it. We also got a number of samples from him and some other printers. I'll have to admit the quality looked amazing, particularly with a 300 line screen that seems almost effortless. Discussing it's problems with the technician made us realize that Presstek has spend a good bit of time trying to perfect this technology and it has come quite a ways since the late 90s and early 2000's. At the time we were thinking 34 cm because of the cost of the larger 52cm landscape. However we found a screaming deal on a 52cm that images the plates in 4 minutes. If you go this direction I would definitely look at the newer models (probably 2007 and later) to avoid many of the negative aspects that past users have expressed. In my opinion the older style presses left a bad taste in many peoples mouths and they won't hardly even consider them anymore. From my research it looked as though plates were more expensive since they are made by Presstek for this press.

We also looked at the Heidelberg Speedmaster 52 which in our opinion was an excellent press, the quality was excellent off this machine as well and with a closed loop system on press (all the presses we looked at had this) getting up to color and printing was nearly as easy as the Presstek DI. You'll find that these things are a big step up from any of the small duplicator style presses in terms of quality and ease of operation. Heidelberg also pitched us their platesetter which in my opinion is one of the best platesetters money can buy, of course Heidelberg thinks it's worth quite a bit of money as well.

We also took a small foray into the KBA Genius press which is also a waterless press in a small footprint but it uses UV inks and cures them instantly right out of the press. Everything is ready to finish immediately...just like you're used to with digital. Minimum stock thickness on this thing is about 70# text which didn't seem like a big deal to us and it will run up to 32 point. Being UV cured you can do some interesting applications on plastic and other synthetics that would be a nightmare on a traditional ink/water press. We thought this press was a very versatile option and would allow us to offer more specialty media, things that the printer down the road cannot do. The downside here was the cost of the press as well as the fact that it used a special "Toray" style plate. We didn't investigate much further due to lack of good service in our area for something like this but I believe you need a special Toray processor to develop the plate so it's suitable for UV inks.

Finally last but not least we took a look at the Ryobi 3304 and Ryobi 520 series. We dismissed the 3304 almost out of hand since it's only a 34 cm and had some trouble running big solids etc. We were very impressed with the 520 series and thought it was every bit as good in terms of print quality and ease of use as the Heidelberg. We went to a demo of it at two different shops and with an inline punch on their platesetter they were within one dot of registration after just hanging the plates (same with Speedmaster) so it was very easy to move into register and get up to color. We were up to color and ready to print in 40-80 sheets on the 3 different jobs we watched at one shop (very similar with Speedmaster as well) For us what it came down to was price. While this should not be the biggest factor we all have to admit we want the best bang for our buck. We ended up purchasing a used Ryobi 524 with dryer and powder...it has not been delivered as of yet but I'll keep you posted on how everything goes. We felt that at the end of the day the Heidelberg might be a better quality machine with better re-sale value and perhaps better built on the hardware side but that the Ryobi put out quality every bit as good but was only 2/3 the price. We might regret this but I think at the end of the day we didn't think it was worth the extra money, particularly for a FIRST 4-color.

I might also mention that on the platesetter end we purchased a used Screen Platerite which from my research is one of the best. We were originally being steered towards a Mitsubishi DPX by the press salesman (he sells both) but decided it would not give us the quality needed to be competitive in our market. If you're printing out direct mail collateral and other "junk" jobs it would be more than adequate but since it's going to be the only platesetter in our shop we wanted something that would put out a 200lpi screen or higher. The presses I've mentioned have no problem holding that or higher so why skimp in this area? We found the resources on Bob-Weber.com to be very helpful with regards to what type of things to ask when getting a platesetter especially on the used market.

We want to go processless on our plates so after some looking there it looks like there are only about three options. The Fuji TS plate, the Kodak Thermal Direct, and the Agfa processless plate (forget the name). We've heard dirt about both the Kodak and Fuji plates and how they are developed on press but I have not heard about any problems with the Agfa plate. It does require a separate gumming unit though after the plate comes out the imagesetter. But all this platesetter talk is for a different thread so I'll leave it be.

Coming from a digital background I think you definitely want the latest generation of presses so you can benefit from the extra automation. Make sure you get something with a console and closed loop system to get accurate color throughout your run. The auto plate loaders and blanket washers are also very nice. We just wanted something that we could turn jobs like we do on digital...get them through the printer at the best possible speed. All the presses I've mentioned will do that with their latest models. For this reason I would recommend you look at something that's at least 7 years old or newer...we didn't feel the older presses had the automation necessary to get jobs turned quickly and cost-effectively.

We also looked at possibly getting a aqueous coater inline but decided against it. From my understanding the coater seals the the print but just as importantly sets the ink very quickly allowing you to get it into bindery or perfect it quickly without waiting for dry time. We thought this would be a good option since coming from a digital background we are used to throwing it in the cutter right off the printer. We were told by a number of operators that the ink sets up pretty good with the IR dryer and a very light amount of spray powder and they were perfecting jobs only 15 minutes after running the first side. I would also mention though that cost and availability on the press we purchased were big factors in this decision. The press we found on the used market did not have a coater. Almost all the shops we talked to though said if they were getting a new press they would get one with 5 towers and a coater...naturally the resale value is much higher for these types as this is what everyone wants.

Anyways I've rambled long enough
I look forward to hearing what you decide...good luck.
 
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Craig

Well-known member
Many of my runs are 1000 to 5000, (12x18) but here lately I've been farming out as high as 33k. I'm just looking at average monthly click charges of $3,000 to $4,000 above the lease and wondering if there isn't a more cost effective way to do this.

Jotterpinky.....WOW that's what I was looking for!!!!!!! Thanks!
 

Disappointed

Well-known member
just my 0,02€: I'd stay away from DI machines, with inline plate imaging. they might look like a nice way of having an offset machine seem like a network printer to the casual user but you're basically coupling your slowest device with your fastest (plate imaging does take a while even if the rest is all automated). I'd go for a used ryobi (whatever format floats your boat), with full automation incl. inkwells and what not and "offline" plate imaging.

IMHO a DI is exactly what I would recommend.

I run a 52DI and can not find a single fault with it, we started off with a 34cm press but wanted landscape format and size so upgraded. That was three years ago and we have never looked back, we were originally a komori b2 house but we can run shorter jobs on the DI as well as the longer runs.

I can't see a problem with the 15 minutes it takes to run a set of plates, I use that time to change paper size, set delivery or load the feeder etc, I run from 8am to 4pm and can sometimes get as much as 20 minutes free time in the day! Our shortest runs are about 500 sheets and we go up to 25000 when needed. Makeready is negligible, I can be at ISO12647 colour within 50 sheets on most jobs, we have never had a set of plates come out with mis-register, that is a machine fault and should be fixed. If the operator wastes the 15 mins by wandering around then he is not a very good DI operator.

All our work is 300line and ISO standard matched, I normally run at 6500/hr but on a rush job we run 9-9500/hr all day. We can turn work in about 15-20 mins if needed and printing is enjoyable again since getting rid of alcohol, damper rollers, hickeys, plate changing, registration, paper stretch, long wash-ups and plate processor cleaning etc.

They are not perfect but they are a force to be reckoned with in the right hands. In an average day I will put around 10-12 jobs on the floor ranging from 1000 to 2500 sheets each, I don't think that's too shabby considering they are all quality, colour matched jobs and not flyers or leaflets etc.

Dave
 

graficworx

Well-known member
I'm glad to hear someone supporting DI. On our conventional large format press, plating takes longer than 15 minutes if you consider the time to image all 4 plates, and process them. Yes, the pre-press guy does the plate imaging, not our pressman, but it still takes a while to get it done. We've actually been considering a DI for runs too long for digital but too short to go through setting up the big iron. Or jobs that can't be run on digital very well, like thick stocks, very thin stocks, or rough surfaces. I've never seen a laser machine lay down very good on a laid card stock. There are just somethings you need a blanket for.
 

Disappointed

Well-known member
We've actually been considering a DI for runs too long for digital but too short to go through setting up the big iron. Or jobs that can't be run on digital very well, like thick stocks, very thin stocks, or rough surfaces. I've never seen a laser machine lay down very good on a laid card stock. There are just somethings you need a blanket for.

That is exactly where they are pitched at, we limit our minimum run to 500 sheets and we run textured card quite well too.

I doubt that a standard press op would be able to remove the old plates, clean the blankets, fit the new plates, preset the ink ducts and get precise register within 15 minutes, I may be wrong but i doubt it.

The new 74cm DI is even faster, 9 minutes i think, very impressive.

Dave
 

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