Delta Dampening

Certifying Quality

From Graphic Arts Monthly- March 1998

A growing trend in print supplier certification is placing pressure on today’s printers to deliver perfect quality-so perfect, in fact, that the goal of many print buyers is to downsize their inspection departments.

“By appointing certified printers, print buyers are establishing an agreement with their printers that basically says they can rely on the quality those printers will provide, without the need to check the product,” explains Larry Butts, Director of Quality Assurance for Creative Press, Evansville, Indiana, a certified printer for the Walt Disney Company.

Creative Press, a 51-year old commercial printing company that serves the advertising and packaging needs of the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries, achieved certification with Disney through a combination of strict quality control standards, ongoing employee training, and the installation of a print quality system that eliminates hickeys and color variation.

“The purchase of the print quality system was critical in that it was one of the pivotal reasons we became certified,” Butts stresses. Of 40 printers evaluated by Disney, Creative Press was one of just three that was awarded certification.

Because appointing certified print suppliers is becoming common within large corporations, especially pharmaceutical companies, Creative Press recently began to prepare for the certification evaluations process. “Qualifying for certification involves a long process in which the print buyer typically looks at every aspect of a printer’s equipment and procedures,” says Butts.

Creative Press already had strong quality standards in place. It had been operating under ISO 9002 standards for some time, and expects to be ISO-certified within the next year. A comprehensive inspection process ensures product quality, from the examination of raw materials to thorough reviews of proofs and finished products.

One quality issue familiar to many printers concerned Creative Press. Hickeys were occurring on press, particularly with the use of board, offset, and enamel stock. Creative Press was spending a significant amount of time controlling them with hickey pickers, but with limited success.

Jim Henton, pressroom supervisor, began to search for a more efficient way to control hickeys. He evaluated the Epic Delta Print Quality System, which the manufacturer claims is able to eliminate 99.93% of all plate caused hickeys during printing, without the need to stop the press.

The system operates as a continuous dampener, yet features a patented wiping action in which the dampening form roller is driven at a slower surface speed than the plate cylinder. This differential action sweeps away foreign particles that cause hickeys, while continually allowing a fress charge of ink to the plate.

The benefits were immediately apparent. “We were able to run entire jobs hickey-free, without stopping the press,” Henton reports. “In the first seven months, we had to stop the press only once to remove a hickey.”

Other advantages of the system include the minimization of ghosting, the laydown of stronger and righter colors, and greatly reduced color variation. Henton adds that the company has reduced waste by 90% by eliminating the need to stop and restart the press during runs.

Most important, the system’s effectiveness, combined with the printer’s excellent quality control practices, convinced Disney that Creative Press could provide the superior products and services it sought in a certified supplier. Creative Press also is now being considered as a certified supplier for several pharmaceutical customers and a major electronics customer.

“There’s no doubt that our clientele is increasing because of the level of quality we can provide,” says Butts. Increasingly, as customers seek certified suppliers, Creative Press is confident it will continue to be among those chosen.

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