LETTERPRESS FAITHFUL GET FEWER
Though UV flexo threatens widespread letterpress longevity, suppliers and printers insist it will survive.
by Jessica Millward, Associate Editor
JUST HOW FAR along is the industry's migration from letterpress? And will UV flexo-fondness lead to the complete disappearance of the letterpress label? In an informal poll conducted on the pP Web site, while many respondents predicted letterpress would be phased out within ten years, a majority believed the process would always be in use.
For Ko-Pack International customers, the primary letterpress investment has been additional equipment for capacity, notes Sales Director Gerry Nigg. He believes letterpress presses will benefit from incorporation of wide-web technology into narrow-web machinery, such as the integration of a water-cooled CID drum on a rotary letterpress.
Letterpress won't ever be completely abandoned, Nigg asserts, because in many cases, "It's a matter of printers asking, 'Why reinvent the wheel?'" The complete elimination of letterpress means more than just new presses, it means adopting a new mind set, and training all company employees to adopt that mind set as well.
Ko-Pack encourages printers to bring back older presses for fine-tuning; the company offers re-building of print heads with micro-adjustment capability on ink keys. Nigg adds the micro-adjustment feature reduces spoilage and set-up time.
"For high quality printing and specific color matching, letterpress is still typically faster in set-up and waste reduction time, due to fine-tuning capabilities offered by ink keys, and the ability to adjust colors quickly versus making new plates, and changing anilox rolls and ink," maintains Gallus Sales Manager Bob Yates. He is also mindful of the time/money investment required to turnover one process for another. Of additional concern in considering a print method change, Yates notes, is the need to support two different platemaking systems, numerous inventories of inks, and artwork variations required for both processes in the learning-curve interim.