The War on Pressroom Waste

Posted in Delta Dampening, News

Graphics Arts Monthly – September 1995

A recent nationwide survey of managers in 7,500 printing companies provides insight into the most persistent and costly quality control problems in the pressroom.

Our old nemeses-hickeys and color variation-are still with us. Together, these two problems are seen as the most troublesome by nearly a 10-to-1 margin over other problems such as ghosting and density of solids.

Hickeys are #1 problem reported by folding carton printers (color variation is second) and the #2 problem reported by commercial printers (color variation is first). In addition, the are the top problem on recycled paper, the survey shows.

For all types of printing operations surveyed, presses on average are stopped more than six times per shift because of problems with hickeys. Typically, the amount of final output this wastes is estimated at anywhere between 5% and 20%.

Efforts to reduce pressroom waste traditionally focused on a variety of procedures. However, when it comes to actually eliminating hickeys and reducing color variation, one technology that has been around for some time but is just now gaining widespread use is the Delta Print Quality System manufactured by Epic Products, Arlington, Texas.

In its PQS product, Epic utilizes a unique technology called the Delta Effect. This patented process runs the dampening form roller slower than plate speed, which causes a wiping action across the plate that removes particles that are the cause of most hickeys. An ink-receptive roller running in contact with the form roller reduces ghosting and provides better control of emulsification.

By not having to stop and restart the press to remove hickeys, and by having more control over water, the press operator will find it easier to maintain color consistency.

The ability of the Delta system to eliminate hickeys and reduce color variation has caught the attention of several major press manufacturers, which are now licensed to use the system on their new presses. The system can also be retrofitted to any existing sheetfed or web press.

In a special study of a single printing plant, the Epic system installed on a 55”, six-color press was shown to have reduced the incidence of hickeys to just over 40 sheets per 10,000 produced, down from an average of 374 sheets per 10,000. For some jobs the study showed, the system eliminated hickeys altogether.

At the user level, Hart Graphics, Austin, Texas, reports 99.5% of all hickeys have been eliminated and incidences of color variation have been reduced by 85%.

Simkins Industries, Trenton, New Jersey, has achieved 99.6% hickey-free performance in its folding carton operations. Harry Pierce, printing supervisor says, β€œThe Delta System not only took care of our hickeys, but it also vastly improved the overall productivity of our Komori press. It gives us greater control over colors and reduces the possibility of color-related errors.”

Similar gains have been made in pressrooms at Eastman Kodak, Rochester, New York; Crown, Cork & Seal, Philadelphia; Packaging Corporation of America, Denver; AGI, Chicago; and Jefferson Smurfit, Kansas City.

Such gains significantly affect the bottom line. By tackling hickey and color variation problems many of these companies have reduced pressroom waste by 99%. In other words, every $100 previously lost to pressroom waste now amounts to only $1. For a typical mid-size pressroom, this could result in monthly savings of between $5,000 and $25,000, figures that are not surprising if press time and lost production potential accounted for in the calculation.

An effective was on pressroom waste should also include reducing makeready times and amount of stock used, eliminating web breaks, improving platemaking and reducing the need to rerun jobs because of design and prepress errors.

One Response to “The War on Pressroom Waste”

  1. Nice article. As a pressman, I agree that hickeys are a major source of waste. It depends a lot of course your ink and paper though. I think it’s worth mentioning too that waste in press time is a major waste too, particularly in adequately staffing presses.

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