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Next Year's Newspaper Production

Newspapers, while under great pressure, still represent a $200-billion industry, with 15,000 paid titles globally, as fellow MyPrintResource editor Joann Whitcher pointed out in this year’s PRINT 13 Show Daily . Even as newspaper titles decline in the United States, more than half of the world...

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Newspapers, while under great pressure, still represent a $200-billion industry, with 15,000 paid titles globally, as fellow MyPrintResource editor Joann Whitcher pointed out in this year’s PRINT 13 Show Daily. Even as newspaper titles decline in the United States, more than half of the world looks to printed newspapers for news. In emerging markets, they are status symbols. And like their magazine counterparts, newspapers have advantages over online or mobile delivery methods: Readers tend to linger over print ads vs. digital ads; their readers tend to be more affluent; and consumers still look to Sunday coupons for savings.

At the quadrennial North American trade show this past September, leading web-offset press manufacturers Goss, KBA, and manroland did their part to help newspaper customers. In the Newsprint Pavilion, Goss International emphasized advantages and opportunities for commercial, newspaper, and packaging printers. Making its North American debut in Chicago was the Magnum Compact press, allowing show visitors to see live demonstrations of its Autoplate system for a single-width offset newspaper press. Autoplate technology enables the changing of all plates automatically in less than 230 seconds. The new press was developed to meet the demands of customers looking for an automated, cost-effective solution that will support multiple business models—for the newspaper, semi-commercial, and book markets—as well as ultra-short runs.

Also, the Goss Sunday press celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year. Large and small printers continue to choose these gapless-blanket press models for commercial, publication, catalog and now packaging printing. The manufacturer has reported an increase in Sunday press installations for retail inserts, direct mail, and non-stop job and edition changes with its Automatic Transfer (AT) technology.

KBA North America presented its Commander CL newspaper web offset press, via video review. This compact web press—equipped with extensive automation in the paper logistics, plate changing, production planning, presetting, operation, control, and monitoring—prints with maximum productivity and cost efficiency, according to marketing VP Eric Frank. KBA RotaJET 76 inkjet technology also was on display, as more newspaper publishers seek to print small, last-minute regional sections—four to six pages in copies ranging from 1,000 to 10,000—on high-volume inkjet web presses.

Meanwhile, manroland web systems touted its broadsheet-to-tabloid flexibility with a Three-Around solution that can breathe new life into existing newspaper press equipment. The plate cylinder prints three sheets in a single revolution, rather than two, allowing up to 50 percent more copies per hour in non-collect runs. The Three-Around retrofit can be used to create an entirely new business model for today’s newspapers. Pressline Services also showcased its press system using a plate cylinder capable of printing three sheets in a single revolution. 3Volution (or 3V) is another three-around printing system that creates cutoffs between 15.75 inches and 14.5 inches depending on current press cutoff, and can run in a straight or collect mode. The press is capable of producing its original cutoff as well as its new cutoff. This system works with single- or double-wide presses.

manroland’s response to the market need for adaptability is the ColorMan e:line. The blanket-to-blanket newspaper press allows for step-by-step expansions and format changes throughout its life, giving it the reputation as the most flexible and future proof machine on the market. Also shown were FoldLine digital finishing solutions, offering options for variable broadsheet and tabloid sections and page numbers for personalized issues.

Better control on press

manroland web systems also reported that, since drupa 2012, it has sold 24 ControlCenter systems worldwide in Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Finland, Germany, and Nigeria. The concept features an innovative mobile operating system that permits the remote control of press operations. In Italy, one of these new ControlCenter systems is running successfully at Athesia Druck in Bolzano, South Tyrol, alongside a brand new ColorMan XXL. Press operators there can monitor the entire production process with the new operating system. The command center for the XXL autoprint is a comparatively small control console, which integrates the three well-matched hardware modules—ControlCenter, SlidePad, and MobilPad—as well as software customized to the process at hand.

The MobilPad acts as a mobile ControlCenter. For adjustments on the press, operators can take it with them, allowing all types of modifications to be made on site. This saves time during production changeovers and reduces waste occurring when fine-tuning the folder quality at the delivery. When it comes to the advantages of mobility, the Mini-Plow in Bolzano, which Athesia installed to produce attractive folding variants, is just one example. It is set up manually and allows the operator to make optimal adjustments for production directly from the MobilPad, situated next to the press. This means the user no longer needs to return to or call the control console. “We invested in this new concept because we were certain that this was the only way for us to reduce our production, material, and personnel costs,” explained Sigmund Pernter, technical director newspaper and commercial web offset printing at Athesia Druck.

WAN-IFRA World Publishing Expo

Earlier this month (October 7-9), some 8,000 visitors came to Berlin, Germany, for the 2013 WAN-IFRA World Publishing Expo. Eastman Kodak was among more than 30 exhibitors showcasing market-leading systems that cost-effectively boost productivity to increase competitiveness for newspaper publishers. Its Prosper 5000XLi Press provides offset-class output and a combination of speed and superior quality, making it one of the most productive inkjet web presses on the market for the newspaper industry, Kodak said. The manufacturer also shared the advantages of its Versamark VL4200 Printing System and the Prosper S30 Imprinting System.

“Inkjet technology will revitalize the printed newspaper,” proclaimed Philip Cullimore, Kodak regional managing director for the European, African, and Middle Eastern Region. “Major publishers like Axel Springer and News UK have invested in Prosper S30 Imprinting Systems to link their printed and digital offerings and to exploit new commercial opportunities. Newspapers are discovering how they can adapt their product offering flexibility, especially when it comes to being able to offer more dynamic, targeted content,” Cullimore continued. At WAN-IFRA, Kodak showed how publishers can address these content issues from full pages to variable codes.

The ability to print good quality variable data directly onto the newspaper, while running the web presses at full speed, extends the useful life of the web press with a comparatively small incremental investment. “Publishers are finding that by putting unique codes in every printed newspaper, they can allow their readers access to content on their digital offerings which would only be available to the general public behind pay-walls,” added Cullimore.

Full-page variable printing

Capable of full-page digital color variable printing, the Versamark VL4200 Printing System is a turnkey solution comprised of reliable inkjet printheads and a choice of controller, which is ideal for short-run or remote newspaper printing, Kodak explained. For its customers, the system aids client acquisition and retention objectives, and improves their bottom lines. The VL4200 can run at 410 feet per minute (fpm) at a resolution of 600 x 360 dots per inch (dpi).

The faster, high quality Prosper 5000XLi Press, with its wider web width, is expanding the newspaper markets that can use inkjet technology. It can run at 656 fpm and has a print width of 24.4 inches, enabling the printing of broadsheet newspapers without shrinkage. Using Kodak’s nano-particulate pigment inks and a resolution of 600X600 dpi, it provides a higher print quality, and can print on a much broader range of papers. To help ensure crisp, readable output, the press also features a text enhancement feature and a number of innovations in its transport system that virtually eliminate page imperfections caused by paper stretching and wrinkling. At its core is the Intelligent Print System (IPS), which is designed to process thousands of press inputs that measure imaging performance, detecting variations and making adjustments, as needed, on the fly.

For applying elements of variable data, there is the Prosper S30 Imprinting System. The higher-performance choice for hybrid printing applications such as direct mail, inserts, gaming, advertising, package labeling, and more has the highest speed in the industry at 3,000 fpm; it delivers 600 x 200 dpi output.

A video highlighted how Axel Springer’s Ahrensburg newspaper printing plant has used the Prosper S30 to help increase circulation and provide new variable-data advertising services. Mounted on Axel Springer’s manroland or KBA offset press the S30 imprints variable components, including consecutive lottery numbers, variable QR codes, and changing artwork, across a width of up to 4.2 inches at full production speed. Its creation of gaming products in Bild, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, were among examples featured on a sample wall.

“With these options customers have a choice about the amount of variable data they can offer and, therefore, the different ways they can support newspapers,” Cullimore concluded. “We are excited to see how we can help a traditional product become more dynamic in a very competitive arena.”

More Hybrid Print Ops

At a PRINT 13 News & Tech session, Hal Hinderliter, president of Hinderliter Consulting Services, addressed what is required to make the move from a successful newspaper printer to successful commercial printer. First, he said, management information systems are critical to reaching out to clients and making it easy for them to work with you. One option for prepress and premedia is the Enfocus Connect ALL line. And newspaper printers will have to watch color quality much more carefully, making a spectrophotometer worth the investment.

Hinderliter also urged audience members to look at the Bourg BB3202 In-Line Perfect Binder and Muller Martini Presto II Digital Saddler for postpress, and the Avanti Slingshot in management systems. Other recommendations were the Agfa Arkitex Eversify, enabling exporting of print content to other platforms, and Ricoh Clickable Paper, a cross-media technology that recognizes hotpots on any printed surface.

Goss, KBA, and manroland are all marketing heavily automated fast-changeover systems, Hinderliter noted. His final exhortation to the audience: There are lots of opportunities in the $5,000 to $100,000 “middle ground, but only if you produce the excellent print quality commercial print markets require.”

Source: PRINT 13 Show Daily