In 1993 Fontana Lithograph/Affiliated Graphics (MOSAIC) was one of about 60 quality driven printers that passionately believed waterless printing was the leading edge answer in printing technology.
Almost 15 years later, the flame still burns brightly at MOSAIC. They are among a select few printers who fully understand and value the inherent benefits of the waterless printing process–more ink to the sheet, using less paper, and more quickly. Since then, MOSAIC’s business has grown steadily.So why hasn’t the number of waterless printers in the USA shown substantial growth?
What’s MOSAIC’s secret? Quite simply it seems to fall back to that age-old word, dedication. MOSAIC in 1993 put a stake in the ground and quite simply stuck hard and fast to fine tuning its expertise and becoming “the best of the best” in delivering high quality waterless products to its demanding customers.
In MOSAIC’s case, they learned from many printers that mixing the two processes (conventional and waterless) on the same printing press, without proper precautions, would produce print quality problems such as contaminated inking rollers.
Rather than face the challenges of waterless printing, many chose instead to blame and abandon it altogether in favor of the tried and true conventional ways. Brendan Connors, co-owner of MOSAIC summed it up best when he told us “if waterless printing was so easy everybody would be doing it, and that its really all about the passion to deliver the very best image possible that keeps MOSAIC’s stake firmly planted in the ground in commitment to waterless printing.” MOSAIC has remained steadfast in its waterless printing direction, winning several of the highly sought after Premier Print Awards “Gold Bennie” for Best in Category for Waterless Printing over the last several years.
MOSAIC’s co-owners Joe Fontana and Brendan Connors knew that the benefits of waterless printing could not be sustained if the process was used on a part time basis. They also knew the operational principles of waterless printing were so simple compared to wet offset that they could reap substantial savings by the elimination of dampening from the printing process. So they made a commitment to the waterless printing process and developed it into the cornerstone of their technological and environmental business directions.
By 1998 their existing location could not handle the new six color press they needed in order to keep up with increasing sales. Already this signaled that their dedication to waterless printing was paying off. Suburban Washington DC has been MOSAIC’s home since their founding in 1948.
In 1999 MOSAIC moved to Cheverly, Maryland in order to accommodate their growth. This present day location, is almost twice the size of their old facility and houses a total of three six color waterless presses, a 74 Karat waterless direct imaging press, a two color press and an HP Indigo Digital press.
One of the first issues to overcome in the transition from conventional offset to waterless printing was the “culture” of the old print method. Everyone from the pressroom to prepress had to be educated in the new waterless print process. MOSAIC even went so far as to hang a sign in the plate room forbidding conventional plate making for process colors. The waterless way of thinking was absorbed with true team effort and spearheaded by key personnel involved in the process.
According to co-owner Joe Fontana, “MOSAIC’s team effort exemplifies our company tagline “your image our passion” and is backed up by our being awarded “Best Workplaces in the Americas” for the last four years in a row” Only 55 graphic arts companies nationwide get the award through the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF) from a committee of distinguished HR experts from within the print industry.
Concern for the Environment is Politically Correct
In Washington, DC both in political and NGO circles alike, global warming and other threats to the environment have risen to the top of their respective agendas. Given the high level of interest in the environment, printers in the Washington, DC market actually feel the environmental awareness ahead of most printers nationwide.
Recycled paper printed with vegetable or soy based inks is now entry level eco printing 101. While the competition may offer some of these entry-level environmental initiatives, MOSAIC can boast of an even wider array of “green” incentives to its customers. With nearly 15 years of waterless printing experience under their belt, MOSAIC has achieved far more environmental initiatives than many of their competitors. These far ranging initiatives include:
MOSAIC is one of a few printers in the United States that is Carbon Neutral, a process where all of MOSAIC’s calculated carbon emissions are offset by their purchasing of 100% wind generated electricity and their involvement in reforestation programs.
Being FSC certified since 2005 through the Forest Stewardship Council certification process assures customers that the papers used by MOSAIC come from responsibly managed and sustainable forests.
Solvent recovery lets MOSAIC recycle spent washup fluids into component parts for reuse or into waste that require no special disposal processes.
Conservation of all paper waste via recycling of office, pressroom and bindery scrap amounting to over 850 U.S. tons of paper yearly.
Over 65,000 lbs of soy based ink run across all of MOSAIC’s presses yearly.
MOSAIC is a member of the U.S. EPA sponsored Green Power Leadership Club, an elite group of companies recognized for making exemplary green power choices.
MOSAIC’s eco-initiatives have gained attention locally, nationally and internationally. The July 14th satellite radio broadcast of “Meet the Planet” on Sirius Radio featured Brendan Connors (MOSAIC’s Co-Owner) as one of the show’s panelists discussing MOSAIC’s impact on the environment.
Brendan’s passionate responses challenged other business owners to develop environmental initiatives as he noted that “everything we do now impacts ours and our children’s futures”.
Even though MOSAIC has distinct environmental advantages over many other printers, the reality is that in order to be successful in the printing industry you must constantly re-evaluate all aspects of your business. Since switching to waterless printing in 1993, more floor space and more printing presses have been added to manage MOSAIC’s steady growth. Now the stage is set for the next phase of development.
The Next Ten Years
In July of this year the MOSAIC executive management team announced a series of sweeping changes that would carry the firm well into the next 10 years. An addition to their facility will be built which will increase their floor space by another third to give them a total of 80,000 square feet (7,432m).
Two new six color presses are on order, the first of which is set to be installed in the fall of this year. As a long-time Heidelberg shop, we were surprised to learn that the new machines would come from KBA. Their decision to go with KBA came about as a result of conducting tests in the demonstration facilities of the major press makers.
According to Dale Ford, President, the test forms were challenging but very representative of the type of work MOSAIC’s customers submit. The first machine to be installed will be capable of both conventional waterless printing and UV waterless to print on paper and plastic substrates. The second press is scheduled for delivery in 2008.
A new MIS system called HIFLEX will be rolled out and operational by January 2008. It will integrate all phases of the company’s operation including the firm’s integrated web site portal (see www.themosaicteam.com).
Expansion, equipment and software aren’t the only leading edge improvements underway as MOSAIC announced recently its 2-year plan to reshape its workflow strategies using the principles of “Six Sigma” and “Best Practices”. Space in this issue of Currents does not allow us to cover all of MOSAIC’s interesting innovations, we will cover them in a future issue.
We are proud to have a member like MOSAIC; not only because of their dedication to waterless printing and the environment but also because of the way they have built a team of people who are committed to producing the very best eco waterless printed products.