Probing Fountain Solution Helps Provide a Fix

How did the Metafix Fountain Solution Control (FSC) System, on display at Booth 136, come into being? It’s an interesting story, and it goes like this:

Fountain solution poses a problem for Canadian printers, as well as those PSPs governed by stringent regulations of the U.S. government. Fountain solution can’t be poured down the drain.

Faced with having to invest $24,000 in a waste water filter to ensure compliance with municipal laws, one printer wanted to evaluate the efficacy of such a filter. Metafix found the investment really wouldn’t help. It is difficult to filter the solution due to the chemistry absorbed and removed by the paper.

This brief exercise was right up the alley of Metafix, a company that uses a distinctive approach to new product development.

“We’re looking at new products all the time,” says Chris Thorne, General Manager, Graphics. “We look at things outside the box, ask why, and find paths where we can develop a product benefitting a company or industry.”

Turning their attention to fountain solution, Metafix engineers developed a series of probes they nicknamed Sputnik, which helped the company discover what happens to fountain solution during a live print run. “Based on our data, our engineers found we can control the conductivity of the fountain solution, eliminating the variability during the run,” Thorne says. “That can provide several benefits. It can eliminate the need to dump fountain solution and start over. It allows printers control, telling them the problem they’re experiencing is not in the fountain solution but elsewhere. They get faster, quicker start-up, and less paper waste at start-up. And they get the ability to adjust their fasteners more efficiently at the start of the run.”

Metafix responded to that insight by developing the FSC System, which installs on top of their clients’ existing re-circulators. The data generated as the fountain solution runs through the FSC System is instantly communicated via cyberspace to Metafix headquarters in Montreal. “We can detect a problem via an alarm sent through the Internet, and can email [the client] there’s a problem,” Thorne says.

Metafix officially launched the product at GRAPH EXPO, after fine-tuning the system at the facilities of a Toronto newspaper, Thorne says.