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Ryobi showcases ‘the future’ of printing

The Real Print and Finish Open House saw Apex Digital Graphics and Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) come together to present a wide range of equipment.

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The LED-UV lamps in the Ryobi 750G Offset Press are safer and more environmentally friendly than mercury lamps, says Bob Usher, managing director of Apex Digital Graphics

Located at Apex’s showroom in Hemel Hempstead on the 10th to 12th March, the equipment has been created to provide all types of production solutions.

Following its new distribution partnership with the Chinese manufacturer Cron, Apex displayed the Cron UVP-3632GX platesetter at the event. Bob Usher, managing director of Apex Digital Graphics, explains how the current marketplace for computer-to-plate (CTP) is dominated by ‘the three big players’ Fuji, Kodak, and Agfa.

“What has happened economically with metal platemaking computer-to-plate machines is that the margin through the period of recession that a dealer like ourselves make on printing plates has been going down and down and down,” he says, adding that commercial printing companies in the UK decreased from 14,000 to 7,000 during the recession.

Each aluminium plate on the UVP-3632GX platesetter is 0.3mm, and there is tissue paper between each plate to stop scratching. After aligning the plates to the laser beams, a suction bar picks up the tissue and discards of it. It then picks up the plate, and feeds it through the machine onto an external drum. Lasers travel across the drum and paints the image, and the more lasers you have in the machine, the faster the image will be painted.

The UVP-3632GX platesetter comes from Cron, who have been manufacturing machines for eight years

Usher says, “If you had 96 lasers, you would probably get 56 to 60 plates per hour, one a minute which is really fast. Most printers don't need that and you pay more money for the more lasers you have. Most people have 32 to 42 lasers per machine giving you around 24 plates an hour to 30 plates an hour.”

Customer negotiations are key to securing a price for each plate, says Usher, but it ultimately depends on the size of the printing press. In the UVP-3632GX platesetter, there are drawers for different sized plates so you can programme the press to use different drawers. This means the need for multiple printing presses is eliminated, saving valuable space and money.

Another machine presented at the event was the Cron TP-3632F. Working with thermal lasers, the image is burnt onto the plate and then the plate develops on the press rather than through chemicals which is better for the environment.

Cron have sold over 800 machines mostly in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe (pictured is the Cron TP-3632F)

However, it was the Ryobi 750G Offset Press, which dries ink onto paper using LED-UV lamps, which ramped up the environmentally friendly stakes. Usher continues: “If you have a carton that you would handle in everyday life and it’s to do with food stuff, then the ink has to be completely cured and must not come off on your fingers. So anything to do with packaging with food has to be cured with a UV lamp.

All of the big ink manufacturers are saying this is the future

When the photoinitiators inside the ink see the wavelength of the LED, it dries or ‘polymerises’ instantly. This makes it ideal for the production of packaging for food. The speed is also not compromised as it prints at a high speed of 16,000 sheets an hour.

Even though UV lamps have been around for a while, LED-UV is a new technology with many benefits, Usher says. “With the invention of LED-UV, it’s a completely new, far more environmentally friendly way of doing it because when you dry paper with UV lamps it creates an odourless gas that has to be extracted from the building in a big tube.”

Usher looks to the future of printing: “All of the big ink manufacturers are saying this is the future. Old fashioned mercury lamps with UV are not going to be allowed to be used in the world for much longer, the mercury’s dangerous, and the lamps don’t last very long. And the ozone it creates is bad for the environment.”

Due to being more environmentally friendly, the Ryobi 750G Offset Press is ideal for producing food packaging

IFS also brought finishing equipment from Horizon and Foliant, including the Horizon Stitch and Folder SPF-200L, Horizon Collator VAC-1000a, and the Horizon Stitchliner 6000.

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