The UV equipment has been provided by Benford UV which is used to adding its Eco-cure technology to unit construction B2 and B1 presses. Nevertheless it has incorporated a UV lamp into the delivery of the Presstek machine and could fit a second lamp between the two twin-colour print units, helping to cure black ink if needed. No ozone is generated.
The press proved the main draw for a steady flow of visitors to the showroom on the northern perimeter of Heathrow Airport. “Adding UV like this opens the way to print on plastics because there are no drying problems and no heat generated by the lamp to damage the substrate,” says Presstek product director Ian Pollock.
Previously Presstek 52DI has been able to offer UV curing only as a conveyor extension to the delivery, usually as part of a coating unit. A number of plastic and security printers were among those in attendance at the open house.
While the press design would easily accept an LED array, the cost of the diodes is out of balance for the press he adds. “Eighty percent of those coming here have come to see DI Eco-UV,” says Pollock.
The US company has settled into new ownership since acquisition by AIP, owner of Mark Andy, just over two years ago. It has moved from a focus on selling only new equipment to earning three quarters of press sales through sales of previously owned presses. The machines hold up well because the waterless litho technology means there is no damage through water or spray powder inveigling its way into all areas of the press.
“We offer 12 months warranty on each of the previously owned machines,” says Pollock. “The capital investment is lower and the ROI is extraordinary as this is virtually a new press.”
The company is now taking aim at the waterless litho market with the introduction of Zahara, a waterless litho plate that Pollock reckons has significant benefits over the Toray plate which has a virtual monopoly in the market.
The Zahara is a drop-in replacement, using the same chemistry, platesetter and processor as the Toray, but which can also run without chemistry as users become more comfortable with it. “In the UK waterless litho is a very small part of the market,” Pollock says, “but elsewhere it is growing. This is thanks to the Codimag label press and to new machines from KBA sheetfed and Miyakoshi for label printing.
“We want to get sheetfed litho printers to consider waterless. There is a big impact on the environment, on waste and on delivering high quality.”
Legacy issues around running waterless have been tackled by the newer generation of presses and all manufacturers can offer waterless presses, if not actively promoting them. One of those issues has been around the dependence on Toray, now distributed in partnership with inks produced by Classic Colours to strengthen the channel.
This provides a challenge to Presstek’s ambitions, but it is confident it has a strong product with Zahara. “It has performed well during field testing,” says Pollock, “ and according to some rolls up faster than the Toray plate.”
The arrival of an alternative plate will be welcomed, especially by newspaper printers that are running the KBA Cortina waterless press. This includes the Le Figaro plant to the north of Paris and others where waterless allows the press to print newsprint and improved papers for commercial products with the same press set up. However, Zahara is not available as a newspaper plate. But given the volumes used in newspapers, it is a gap that has to be filled.