TJ International has installed an Océ ColorStream 3900, the first inkjet press and first colour web press at its plant in Padstow. The investment in the press follows on from an all new bindery installed earlier this year.
“Currently we run digital mono and we needed to get into inkjet, because we needed something faster,” says managing director Angus Clark. “Everything we;’ve done previously has been colour upgradeable; this time we thought why not get into colour straight away. We’ll start with two colours and have the ability to print four colours and we no longer have to tell customers that it’s upgradeable. Colour is here.”
The press has been running reel to reel trials to test printing conditions for the papers that TJ runs as it is important for the company to be offering the publishers the same papers from its digital side as from offset. Currently the company does not print four colour work in Cornwall, but says Clark this is now an option. “We have a customer who prints four colour work on offset presses in China. We’ve run samples on the ColorStream to show him what it looks like. It is fit for purpose colour.
“We are not a colour book printer. This is for two-colour printing, printing where there are illustrations. We produce a lot of two-colour books but currently we can’t get below 200 copies effectively. This will let us get below those quantities.”
TJ International has 17 years with Océ, installing a number of cutsheet and continuous feed presses in that time. It has also adapted the Océ Prisma workflow to suit its needs. While Clark looked at other inkjet presses, Océ was always in the dominant position. The current line up includes two Varioprint mono cutter machines and a Colorstream 10000 Flex toner web press. All are staying.
TJ International’s operators understand the workflow and user interface and its sales teams will be provided with training by Canon on how to sell short run colour to publishers.
The company has had to adapt its digital print factory, a few hundred yards from its main litho press hall and bindery, to accommodate the CS3900, removing a wall and storage to fit the press in. It will run roll to roll with a Hunkeler line configured to produce book blocks that can be fed into the Kolbus binders. This was a deliberate choice says Clark.
“We looked at lots of companies printing in line and roll to roll to see what the quality was like and it was better when the paper had been allowed to sit after printing. We can also run the press faster without connected finishing, and the finishing faster without printing. But the main driver was the quality when finishing offline,” he explains.
There are already thoughts about replacing the ColorStream 10000 Flex with a second ColorStream 3900, which would be a big step in capacity. “The 10000 prints two across at 70 metres a minute; the 3900 is three or four across at 127 metres a minute, that’s almost twice the speed and a 50% wider reel,” says Clark.
Before then however he would like to find a cost effective casing in machine that can cope with book of one production at something like 2,000 units a day. “How to produce a cased in book of one on this scale is one of the challenges we face going forwards,” he says.
Digital has grown to account for 25% of TJ International’s sales and this investment will provide the capacity to take that to 50% in the next three years, with 60% of the volume for mono work and 40% for colour. “Digital is growing at 40% a year,” says Clark. “We change from offset to digital at 1,200 copies. And offset is still showing steady growth for us.”
There is no discernible difference in quality says Clark, the difference coming with effective run length and speed of response: a litho order is delivered eight or ten days later, a digital order within 24-48 hours.
“Currently we run digital mono and we needed to get into inkjet, because we needed something faster,” says managing director Angus Clark.
“Everything we’ve done previously has been colour upgradeable; this time we thought why not get into colour straight away. We’ll start with two colour s and have the ability to print four colours and we no longer have to tell customers that it’s upgradeable. Colour is here.”