29 March 2015 Print Companies

Clays presses button on inkjet expansion

The UK's largest book printer is buying HP inkjet web presses and additional finishing equipment to strengthen its capability for small batch production.

St Ives is committing to a multi million pound spend at Clays to increase inkjet capacity and modernise bindery and litho equipment.

Key to the investment is a move to HP inkjet press lines, the first of which a T260, will arrive in Bungay next month. This will be followed by a T410 in July and there is an option for a colour-capable T410 provisionally scheduled for installation next year.

It means a shift away from the Kodak Prosper technology that Clays has used in a Prosper 1000 press and as the print technology for its Timson T-Press. A return to Timson for a further T-Press is ruled out by that company’s demise. “We will continue to make full use of the T-Press,” says Paul Hulley, managing director of Clays.

The HP presses are being joined by Kolbus case making and casing in machines, a Muller Martini Acoro binder and a new Komori Lithrone G540+C H-UV to print covers, jackets and illustrated book sections for longer run titles. It replaces an older Komori in this position, so while capacity increases, it is because of technology rather than additional machinery.

The inkjet investment, however, is a different proposition and cements Clays’ position as the largest digital book printer in the country. It adds 20 million books a year to Clays’ capacity. HP has a strong position in book printing. CPI has two T300 series HP machines and Ashford Colour Press a brace of the 508mm T230 presses. In the US, QuadGraphics has placed an order for 20 T series machines. Clay's move is driven by the changing nature of the book supply chain and comes weeks after announcing it has secured sole supplier status to Penguin Random House in the UK.

“Effectively, Clays has become a logistics business, enabling publishers to get small batches of books into shops, or single copies to consumers, at high speed and minimising the need to hold large amounts of stock in warehouses. Our aim is to make the overall supply chain more cost effective and efficient, enabling publishers to reduce risk and improve availability,” says Hulley. “This investment gives us more firepower to support publishers as they move further away from speculative printing of books and extends our ability to reduce risk in the book supply chain.”

However, this remains very much a mono proposition. The third press, should the option be exercised, would bring colour capability but to address an existing UK market for inkjet colour in non-trade books and in other areas as colour quality, cost and performance develops, but not to offer print on demand for illustrated trade titles. “Full colour inkjet for trade books is a very different proposition for which the quality/performance combination does not yet exist,” says Hulley. “As and when it does the supply chain opportunities can be explored.”

The HP press will run inline to folders and to deliver book blocks which can then be fed into the binding lines, including the Muller Martini Acoro which has been purchased to support the expansion of inkjet printing.

The hardcover investment brings the company the 70 cases a minute DA270, running with hot melt adhesive, and the BF530 casing in line, which is also a 70 units a minute machine. These are replacement machines and join the BF512 casing in line installed last year. “It extends our short run as well as our long run capacity,” he adds. For Kolbus this is the third order for the hard cover production equipment following sales to CPI Books and TJ International last year.

The T260 is the first piece of the investment to arrive, with a refurbished area of the site prepared for it. Training is taking place for operators in San Diego with some recruitment required to fill the expanded inkjet capacity. The other investments, being largely replacement machinery, require no additional staff.

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HP T260

HP T260

Clays is installing the first of what could be three T series web presses in April. This is the 520mm wide T260 mono press. It will be followed in July by a T410 and potentially by a colour capable version of the same machine next year. Clay's order continues a run of business for HP which has book presses in use at Ashford Colour Press and CPI Books in this country and which received an order for 20 machines from QuadGraphics in the US.
"Publishers are looking to signal printing to simplify their supply chains," says Aurelio Maruggi, vp and general manager of HP's high speed inkjet division. "With the T260 and T400, Clays is poised to help its customer reduce inventory overhead and support more titles, producing books when they are needed in the exact quantity desired."

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Kolbus DA270

Kolbus DA270

Along with the inkjet presses, Clays is investing in replacement case making and casing in equipment, buying the Kolbus DA270 case maker and BF530 casing in line. This set up is already in place at TJ International and CPI Books through investments in the last year says Kolbus UK managing director Robert Flather. "This allows case making and casing to run at 70 books a minute," he says.
The casing in machine will be attached to a packing machine for the highest levels of automation.

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