No Lethargy for Letterpress
Other suppliers take slightly wider stances. Willingham says the most common press width for Taiyo is 10". "This width will always serve its purpose in the industry, but we do see presses going wider, to 16", because of the development of different materials being affordable, advances in web tension control and register, and quality control in manufacture," he adds.
Ted Fujita, VP at Sanki USA, concurs. "Ten inches is our most common seller, though the last seven presses sold have had wider widthswith one as wide as 16"," he relates.
The numerous factors that separate letterpress's three design campsstack, CI, and in-linerequire printers to prioritize size, price, maintenance/set-up, and flexibility.
According to Yates, stack design advantages include a smaller floor space requirement (similar to a CI press), UV curing units at every station, chill rollers after every unit to eliminate heat issues, portability, 15-minute changeovers, and visibility of the web at every station.Part of the CI press contingent, Fujita highlights this design's better print-to-print registration. "The waste factor also is much less," he elaborates. "It is much easier and faster to get into registration and to achieve accurate color reproduction." Fujita says the CI press also allows the operator to clean multiple stations at one time.
"Central impression designs offer space, tighter register, and versatility for a wide range of jobs with a narrow web," seconds Willingham. Taiyo's CI offering includes letterpress and flexo, with stacked flexo units to provide more working area, while still saving shop space.
Warwick believes CI presses' tighter registration (accomplished by preventing movement of the material once it's wrapped around the CI drum) is particularly beneficial in today's market tendency toward film and plastics. "An in-line press needs more elaborate controls to hold registration because any type of heat causes the material to stretch," he notes.