For 33 years, AMP Printing and Graphics, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier commercial printers, relied on the legendary dependability and print quality of its Heidelberg machines, all of which were from 12-20 years old. Push came to shove, however, when the Dublin, CA-based company determined that it would need to invest in a 10-color Speedmaster XL 106 perfecting press with two-sided UV printing and coating capabilities in order to stay competitive.
“Our decision had a lot to do with economics,” said Jeff Main, who, together with his wife, Kathy, president of the company, made the financial commitment to move forward with this major capital expenditure. “While we’ve always been successful running Heidelberg presses, we were losing ground in an extremely competitive marketbecause we were working with aging, less-productive equipment. There was never an issue with our name, reputation or the quality of our work, just with what it cost us in terms of the time and labor needed to sustain that level of excellence,” he said. “No matter how hard or how long we worked, we just couldn’t compete on productivity. We made up our mind to retool and update our pressroom in order to work faster and more efficiently while growing the business.”
Doing as well as the competition wasn’t an option. “We wanted to lead, not follow,” Main said.
An Eye-Opening Experience
That quest ultimately led AMP’s management team to visit Heidelberg’s factory in Wiesloch, Germany, and to tour a number of Europe’s most progressive printing facilities. What Main saw caused him to re-think his original investment plans.
“It wasn’t until we saw the new technology of the XL 106 that we decided to invest in a brand-new UV press,” Main said. “It was immediately clear that no other press manufacturer could beat the XL 106 in terms of print quality, speed, performance, and ease of use.”
The fact was, AMP Printing had never bought a new Heidelberg press before, let alone a two-sided UV perfector.
“Had you asked me a year ago if I’d ever buy a perfector, I would have said no, given the subpar perfecting capabilities of some older equipment I’d seen,” Main said. “When I went to Germany to view the XL 106 in action, I never imagined that I would wind up buying a perfector. But the technology and the quality exceeded all my expectations. Heidelberg has absolutely perfected the perfecting press.”
For Main, the overseas trip was a revelation in more ways than one. “When we saw European printers running demanding automotive catalogs at full speed, we realized that the quality would match our standards, “ Main explained, “but what really sealed the deal were the unbelievably fast makereadies enabled by the new technology. We saw setups that took well under 10 minutes—and that was for getting color and register on both sheet sides. The XL 106 perfector is truly revolutionary and a total mind-changer in my case. It’s the best investment this company has ever made.”
Thanks to automated features like Prinect Inpress Control and AutoPlate XL, AMP will be able to address its productivity issue by expanding its capacity, attracting additional high-end work, and by producing many more jobs per day—most in just one press pass. This will streamline press checks, as well as enable a customer to walk out the door with a finished sample after just one setup.
“We’re already known for our ability to produce high-end UV projects on a wide range of synthetic substrates,” Main explained. “The XL 106 is as versatile as we are—we’ll be able to run it as a straight 10-color press or a 5/5 double-coating machine. And it’s fast—you have to see it running flawlessly at 15,000 sph in perfecting mode to believe it can be done.
We’ll also be able to change all the plates in less than two minutes, as well as measure every sheet through the press for color and register in real time,” he continued. “Prinect Inpress Control will enable us to offer an unprecedented level of color stability throughout the run, and help our operators relax while running such a long, complex machine.”
By virtue of its shortened makeready times, rapid inking with low-VOC UV inks, and dramatically lower material waste, the Speedmaster XL 106 also supports the company's longstanding policy of sustainable print production, an essential concern for any printer subject to California’s strict environmental protection laws. The company is a certified Green Printer with a longstanding commitment to “Print Responsibly” in every area of the business.
The Rest of the Story
With its choice of press squared away, the company felt it needed to create whatMain termed a “closed-loop” situation at AMP by also purchasing a Suprasetter 105 chemistry-free CtP unit with Heidelberg’s complete Prinect prepress and production workflow. Once the new press is installed, AMP also plans to take advantage of Heidelberg’s Print Color Management service to further optimize its pressroom efficiency. The company also works with Heidelberg Saphira consumables from prepress to plating to press.
Beyond the stunning capabilities of Heidelberg’s flagship XL 106, it was Heidelberg’s “mindset of service” that proved decisive for AMP.
“Our experience in dealing with Heidelberg for more than three decades has shown us not only that Heidelberg engineering is rock-solid, but also that we’ll be well taken care of in terms of service and parts. After all, any press you install is only as good as the support team that helps you look after it.”
AMP Printing and Graphics is a Certified Woman-Owned, G7-qualified, expert UV printer specializing in the production of high-end specialty marketing materials for customers in the retail, technology, medical, financial, education, and advertising markets. Its high-volume, state-of-the-art, 70,000-square-foot facility in Dublin houses a variety ofoperational and technical capabilities, including sheetfed and digital offset presses, color-managed prepress, and a full suite of finishing services. The company, which was an early adopter of grand-format UV imaging, today boasts a range of solutions that produce work up to 10 feet wide at the highest possible resolutions, including a VUTEk HS 100 Pro, recently installed as part of AMP’s capital expansion plan. The company reports annual revenue of more than $20 million.
Despite the company’s obvious success, sterling reputation, and depth of expertise, Main stays alert for opportunities to strengthen and improve his business. Regarding AMP’s purchase and pending installation of a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 perfector, for example, “We knew we needed to make a change or risk becoming a casualty of a brutally competitive market,” he said. “The new press represents the potential for substantial growth in sales and profits for us.”