Belgian Company Invests for Added Quality, Productivity and Sustainability
Toray Graphics in the Czech Republic, a leading manufacturer of waterless offset plate technologies, reported that the Belgian printing company Coldset Printing Partners (CPP) has invested €35 million to update its press and mailroom capabilities. This investment, required to improve quality and productivity, also had sustainability in its sights. The company converted a part of its operations to waterless offset printing by adding the Koenig & Bauer Cortina printing press in conjunction with Toray IMPRIMA waterless offset printing plates. With the closure of its Brussels facility, one goal was to reduce the production footprint while at the same time increase capacity across the other plants.
“Part of that initiative was to add the waterless offset technology to our operations” says Paul Huybrechts, CEO. “We now have a press line consisting of 11 towers and five folders. That includes four new Koenig & Bauer Cortina waterless towers with two folders, and seven towers of the existing Koenig & Bauer Commander conventional coldset web press with three folders.”
While this change meant a reduction of the maximum pagination for most of the newspapers from 96 to 64 pages, there is still one folder capable of handling 96 pages if needed. “The result of this reconfiguration,” Huybrechts adds, “is a total capacity increase of 25%, even with the Brussels closure.”
Another goal was to increase the print quality and enable the production of commercial work without the need to add heatset. That was the reason for adding the Cortina towers using Toray IMPRIMA waterless offset plates. “Including a varnishing unit and using an appropriate white paper quality allows you to achieve a top-quality product which is really comparable to heatset,” Huybrechts notes. “This is important because we believe that for the future of this site, we need to have a good answer for a certain quality level. It also gives us the opportunity to print magazines that are currently printed in heatset. In fact, this is already beginning to happen.” The plant is producing about 500,000 newspapers per night and about 40 million copies a month in total, about 30% of which is third-party work.
On the sustainability front, Huybrechts points out that the Cortina towers do not use solvents or water, adding, “But even more important is that we have a very low start-up and running waste. It takes around 30% longer to make-ready the Commander than the Cortina, and the start-up waste can be double or even more. Waste on the Cortina can be as low as 80 copies of white paper and 40 printed copies.”
The prepress department is also benefiting from these changes with the Heights waterless plate processors used to process the IMPRIMA waterless plates. Huybrechts states, “The Toray plates are non-ablative, meaning less cleaning of the equipment is required.”
CPP is currently using IMPRIMA WA plates that require pretreatment involving a small amount of chemicals – 5 ml/sqm – to make the upper coating soluble. “To eliminate even this small amount of chemistry,” Huybrechts says, “we will be moving to the new IMPRIMA WJ water-washable plates that not only eliminate the need for pre-treatment chemistry but also use a chemical-free contrast enhancer to provide the image contrast necessary for the plate bending, punching and sorting systems.”
Huybrechts admits that ink and plates can be more costly with waterless offset printing. Ink cost increases due both to the actual cost of ink and the ability to achieve higher ink coverage. “However,” he says, “that is only one piece of the puzzle. You always have to look at the complete picture. For instance, we can charge more since we can achieve a quality very close to heatset without having to use a dryer, which is not only expensive to run but also has high CO2 emissions and other sustainability issues. Plus, the energy consumption of the Cortina is lower than that of the Commander, with as much as 5% less energy use. And the Cortina is so easy to use, that even I can run it!”