With no gears to wear down or adjust, gearless presses help reduce maintenance in the printing process.
PRESS MAINTENANCE IS a four-letter word. It's essential for high-quality printing results, but the more time a printer spends on maintaining the condition of its equipment, the less time it spends printing—meaning lost profits.
There may be an answer to the evils of maintenance, however, for those companies willing and able to front a hefty capital investment. Gearless presses, driven by servo-motor technology, hit the market about 10 years ago, boasting such advantages over conventional presses as infinite repeat sizes, easier registration, and improved quality control with the ability to automatically pre-register print sleeves, said Steven Leibin, sales manager for Matik North America (distributor of OMET's gearless press).
Low required maintenance is another benefit of direct drive presses that few manufacturers have failed to promote. Conventional presses have gears, hubs, and clutches that wear with time and need frequent tinkering. And even the presses that run with some servo-drive technology but also have gears, need maintenance. True gearless presses don't have these mechanical parts and, therefore, don't need as much attention, said Chris Delwiche, Paper Converting Machine Co.'s (PCMC) supervisor of design and support.
"Gears, hubs, and clutches are maintenance items," he said. "They simply wear over time. Their degradation correlates with the machine's print quality degradation. Often, maintenance teams will spend countless hours chasing machine performance issues, only to find out a gear is worn or damaged. Replacing and repairing these parts is a never-ending cycle."
Even so, what replaces those old, familiar mechanical components in gearless presses can be somewhat scarier than the idea of endless fiddling and compensating for worn out parts. On a gearless press, the large bull gear and conventional plate cylinder drive gears found in a conventional press are replaced with servo-drive technology—a system of hi-tech electronics, software, and computer systems.