Exploring Middle Ground
Press suppliers discuss the "why" behind buying into mid-web technology.
What do press suppliers believe is currently the most compelling argument for package printers to consider mid-web technology? Industry insiders' responses reveal potential benefits for narrow- and wide-web traditionalists, though the definition of mid-web can vary for each segment.
Hans Heuchert, President, AapexX Corp., Hot Springs, AR
A mid-width press makes it possible to be profitable with short runs. The capital expenditure is much lower. The press is much easier and faster to set upas fast as 4 minutes, 30 seconds for a 4-color letterpress, and 9 minutes for a 6-color flexo press.
The most important point is the press's ability to print high-quality jobs, without compromises. This means chatter-free printing, which can only be achieved with backlash-free, precision, helical gearing, heavy side frames, bearings, rolls and journals. Thus the user has to be prepared to pay for such a robust machine.
Dick Chesnut, President, W.R. Chesnut Engineering, Fairfield, NJ
Historically, the most successful mid-web presses have been employed in the carton market, where they generally produce larger format products than will be suitable for production on a narrow-web press, and wide-web presses would not be economically feasible. Typical examples include liquid carton packages and cigarette boxes which do not lend themselves to sheet-fed production.
Do your homework first. Be sure you have a clear idea as to what benefits and advantages a mid-web press will have with regard to the business you intend to run on it. Bear in mind that these presses have substantially higher set-up costs associated with them than a narrow-web press, and less productivity than a wide-web press. They really should not be used as a solution for a slow-running narrow-web operation. It would be easier to find a way to speed up the narrow-web press.