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  • 28 Sep 2011 8:15 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)

    (By Bienvenido Andino, European editor based in Barcelona, Spain on the IWPA’s upcoming 20th anniversary)

    Since the beginning of the waterless offset era, a printing method invented by Caspar Herrmann (1871-1934), the process has been propelled by different, yet isolated innovators who were “visionaries.” Innovation is to do the same things in a better way by way of creativity that result in higher quality, better economics and more respect for the environment. The German inventor Herrmann, although he applied for it, failed to obtain a patent for waterless offset in 1931. When he showed his four colour printing results at the Leipzig Spring Fair, they were highly appreciated by some graphic users but nobody was prepared pay more money for higher quality printed products achieved with his process. Caspar Hermann then moved to the States in 1932, hoping to find a better reception for his invention. The American graphic arts market did not accept his waterless offset printing method.

    History of Waterless Printing

    In 1967, the former 3M Company presented the first printing plate for waterless offset at DRUPA. But sensitivity to scratches brought this innovation to an end. Nevertheless there were printers like Harold Amos who was enthralled with the concept and never forgot the value of “Dry Printing.”

    Some years later, Toray Industries Inc, bought the offset waterless patent from 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) in the United States, where it was known as Driography. The process achieved outstanding results and positive response from the printing market in Japan. The trials to prove this way of printing were pursued with great and constant devotion by key printing companies like Bonshodo, Dai Nippon Printing, Toppan and several more. They obtained positive results with their Toray waterless offset printing plate and officially presented it at the 1977 Drupa.

    Dr. Ernst-Michael Marks of marks- 3zet in Germany, the European waterless pioneer, took over once he was able to “communicate” with the manufacturer of the Toray plate. Not an easy task for a demanding graphics perfectionist from the West. From 1982 onwards, he proved that another way of thinking and acting when distributing the product would help penetrate the market. Success crowned his efforts with a substantial share of the German market.

    Other pioneers like David Grey of Classic Colours of the United Kingdom and Jan Skantze of Schneidler Grafiska in Sweden were among the most notable early promoters of the process.

    Waterless printing made a spectacular debut in the USA at Print ’91 where superbly printed posters were printed live at the show. The prints had screen rulings at an unheard of 400 lines per inch. The effort was led by John O’Rourke then working for Toray North America.  As important as it is to develop technical achievements in waterless offset it is also important to “propagate” them for the benefit of other printers in the world. From an idea initiated in the United States by a visionary of another sort, Arthur W. Lefebvre, who co-founded the non-profit WPA (Waterless Printing Association) in 1992. An “I” was added later referring to the International nature of its membership.  He too believed in the process and decided to spread the good word through an Association with specific goals, such as the exchange of technical knowledge and convincing potential printer users that they could produce a better printed product. Surrounded by some 40,000 sceptical US printers, he also was faced with the difficult job of convincing a lot of them, and others around the world. A few printers would cancel their membership after one year but others followed proudly showing their Monarch butterfly logo, designed and trade marked by the IWPA, as is the case at present with the DeMorgen newspaper in Belgium and Roldán Gráficas, a member in Spain.

    Further to demonstrate their ecological dedication in their industrial activities, “This logo may grant us the entry and acceptance amongst some companies that otherwise would not be willing to enter in business with us,” states a satisfied printer in waterless offset using UV inks and manufacturing yearly more than 40 millions credit cards distributed in the world. As stated by the IWPA: the Butterfly symbolizes the environmental qualities, endurance and beauty of waterless printing.

    Does the IWPA help members in crucial technical cases?

    It took Mr. Lefebvre several years to raise the status of the International Waterless Printing Association among its world-wide members. Satisfactory printing results were not always attained. But, looking back at the work he has done to propagate the technical insights of the waterless printing method, it can be said that it was worth of starting the Association. Important: any member of the IWPA had “a practical and useful link” to the any place in the world to submit his technical question if necessary. A practical case in our country: a label printer in Spain had a problem because the ink was not adhering when printed on the plastic surface. A basic question was: do have you a Corona treatment in the press? If not, as you may borrow the support from outside: did you check at the expiration date?  Both cases were under control, nevertheless, the problem was still there. Submitted to Mr. Lefebvre, he used his knowledge of members and sponsors to take the following steps:

    Submit a technical information about the problem to a label printer (after having crosschecked it with a similar in activity at a printer in Australia)

    Have Classic Colours of England to send a sample of an ink special made to address the complaint stated by the Spanish Printer.

    With such a help they solved the problem. The full solution needed took no more than 20 hours to settle. Without the practical help of the IWPA, how many steps would the printer have to struggle with to reach a similar result?  Such reasoning is based on the tendency of various manufacturers to concentrate only on the “highlights,” JUST the positive advantages of their products overlooking the difficulties not related to them but faced in real life by a printer.

    Another case. What about to learn particulars regarding “ecological inks” that a printer may be required to use by his client? The IWPA will answer to the interested that they are “vegetable oil based inks such as soy.” In case he is a waterless offset printer, he may get such an extra information as this “a truly ecological waterless offset ink is now offered to Japanese printers through DIC and it is called W2, water-washable inks.” Like Toray plate development, it took DIC to perfect a product that was originally created in the USA. Obviously sharing information on a global basis, the IWPA will contact with its “sister” in Japan, the JWPA, obtaining through them the “cream” of the latest developments in the field in that country.


    Fast approaching its 15th year of promotional and technical activity in the waterless offset field, led by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable professional, Arthur Lefebvre, the IWPA heralds new goals, as confirmed in the IGAS 2011 2nd International Conference, “set to debut 2012” as to became: a) A larger technical Forum to exchange ideas and solve specific waterless printing problems (member to member and supplier to member), b) Special projects as a conduct testing to establish metrics for all of water printing’s benefits, including environmental ones. By the former: to emphasize the use of the waterless printing in an ecological environment, something that present society needs to know about.  Instead of “continental” waterless printing associations more or less emanating from the IWPA, as the JPWA from Japan active since 2002, or the EWPA (European Waterless Printing Association) since 1996, which some critical non-German printers quote should replace the E (European) with a G (of German), because they concentrate their tasks in the German speaking countries (Germany and Switzerland) with around 100 million persons and 12.000 printing companies. The International Waterless Printing Association looks forward to introducing big changes from 2012 on, surely, for even better performance. Nevertheless, if we follow the German statement: Wechesel ist Vorschritt (Change means progress), it shows that the IWPA after almost 20 years, is a live and dynamic factor at the service of the offset waterless field led by an enthusiastic professional, Arthur Lefebvre. Recompense for having achieved it? “To have done it”, not always under the best conditions, but with the goal of supplying a first class service, at least, this is the opinion of the present writer. Thank you for all the past help.

  • 28 Sep 2011 8:10 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)
    IWPA Board Member Peter Booth of Fishprint in Brighton East, Victoria, Australia had a tour of his facility by a gaggle of university graphic design students and reports that for ‘Sustainability in print production,“ students at University seem to love coming to see us.”

    Peter says this should be encouraged by all waterless printers around the world and would surely increase the knowledge base of our fine art.

    We agree, it is relatively easy to arrange the class visits each year. When the students grow up to be full fledged graphic designers we are sure to see waterless printers benefit from these tours. We’re also certain that they will prefer to send print jobs to waterless printers and spread the good news about their printed designs to other colleagues?

  • 08 Aug 2011 3:16 AM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it plans to clamp down on glycol ethers (“glymes” for short). These little known ingredients are used by a broad array of industries, including manufacturers of lithium batteries, inkjet cartridges, paints, printing, prescription drugs and microchips.

    The EPA determined that three of these glymes pose a high concern to workers, consumers and children” because they may have reproductive or developmental effects. A U.S.  study more than a decade ago found links to miscarriages among workers in semiconductor manufacturing.  The EPA has proposed a new rule for glymes as one of its few weapons authorized by the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. If adopted, it would let the agency restrict new uses of 14 glymes in the U.S. marketplace.  Glymes are members of a broad family of chemicals called “glycol ethers” typically used as solvents in manufacturing.  In offset printing glymes like ethelene glycol N Butyl ether and ethylene glycol mono-butyl ether are used in so called “alcohol free” fountain solutions. The health warnings for these chemicals caution exposure through contact with eyes, skin, inhalation and ingestion. As an irritant they target the eyes, skin, blood, kidneys, liver and lymphoid system and central nervous system. The USEPA considers these chemicals a volatile organic compound (VOC) and hazardous air pollutant (HAP) which are regulated as a hazardous waste.

    Two other glymes– monoglyme and diglyme – caused reproductive and developmental damage in rodent studies. Animal studies on a third glyme, ethylglyme, show developmental toxicity as well as the potential for gene mutation.  Glymes have come under U.S. government scrutiny as particularly hazardous to workers, including those that manufacture semiconductors, printing ink, automotive care products, paints and pharmaceuticals.

    A study of 6,000 workers in 14 plants led by scientists from the University of California, Davis in the late 1980s and early1990s linked glyme mixtures to miscarriages among semiconductor manufacturing workers.  The researchers found a pattern of increased miscarriages among women exposed to mixtures of ethylene-based glycol ethers including diglyme. The results of the multi-year study paid for by the Semiconductor Industry Association were published in 1995 in a full issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

    “I’m glad to see attention being paid to this because the agents are no less toxic than they were 10 years ago,” said Dr. Marc B. Schenker, a UC Davis professor of medicine and chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences, who led the study.

    Even though the use of these chemicals is regulated, little is known about how much the public is exposed to glymes through consumer products and their release into the environment.  Agency officials say new uses could increase people’s exposure through skin absorption or inhalation. Diglyme has been detected in drinking water, so consumption is a possible route, too, they say. While exposure to monoglyme in lithium batteries is limited because batteries are sealed, there is possible exposure from handling polishing clothes, printed paper and breathing emissions from a household paint can, vehicle exhaust or factories.

    Printers who print waterless should be very happy they changed over to the process. That’s because, unlike conventional printers, waterless ones don’t have to deal with press fountain chemistry at all.

  • 03 Jan 2011 1:00 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)
    Due to the rising cost of raw materials, ink prices are going to be increased. Over the past six to nine months, the price of some raw materials has risen by more than 100 percent.

    Raw materials like gum rosin and phenolic resin, are particularly troubling for ink makers because of low crop yields, low stocks and increased demand from non-ink industries. Increased environmental pressure has seen producers of pigments like those from India and China leave the market. Some pigments like blue, yellow and red could be in short supply. Waterless inks will not be excluded from these price increases. All of which puts even more printers under economic pressure.
  • 30 Oct 2010 3:39 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)
    by Bienvenido Andino,
    Contributing Editor, Barcelona, Spain

    “I have gone to exhibitions over the past 10 years to inquire about the progress of waterless printing for printing on plastic (PVC) surfaces,” states Mr. Albert Roldan when questioned about the reasons why he decided to install a five unit KBA Rapida 74 as the core printing equipment at his company in Tarrassa, Spain (Barcelona).

    He has another 2 unit Roland 300 conventional offset sheetfed press. With both machines, his firm produces around 30 million plastic cards yearly. Around 75% of this production is exported to countries like Finland, Holland, Germany and several Arab nations where it is rather difficult for a Spanish printer to conduct business.

    “We have trouble selling our products in America since there is approximately a 40% difference against us, although we match and surpass the quality of US printers in our sector. Reasons for the difference are not only due to the exchange rate, euro versus dollar, but also because the raw material (PVC) is cheaper in the States than in Europe.

    Roldan senior and junior: satisfied when inspecting a printed sheet delivered by the Rapida 74.

    Add to this, the transport costs that, if air freight is used, means a significant extra cost. Shipping by sea may take 8 weeks which, again, is a handicap when the customer, like a supermarket chain, orders 11 million of plastic cards to be delivered within a month.”

    Around 30 people are permanently employed, approximately 70% are women, in Roldan Gráficas located in an Industrial Polygon outside Tarrasa (Barcelona).

    The company is very experienced in their sector with the cutting edge technology they have developed. One wonders how they reached such a high level of technological capability.

    According to Albert the explanation is simple: “If there is a will, there is a way,” when he introduced his company to us. “My father, a typesetter, started the company back in 1992 as a printing shop,” explains Albert while his father roams the factory helping out and keeping the facility in an exceptionally tidy state.

    “At 18 we knew that the letterpress printing presses we were using were fading, therefore he pressed to switch to offset starting from zero with a Solna sheetfed press. This was followed by a Heidelberg GTO and finally two 4-unit MAN Roland 300s.

    We specialized in the printing and finishing of plastic cards and similar derivatives, while facing a lot of difficulties as such substrates are very complex to print and finish. We were not satisfied with the existing printing presses as they were not reaching the peak quality we were aiming at.”

    After a long, intensive study the company decided to adopt the waterless printing system after deciding that it was the best method to achieve the quality their product required.

    To obtain the professional feedback from the manufacturer of KBA printing press, Albert paid a visit to the German factory where all technical details were discussed and tests carried with his own substrates.

    Then, another visit followed to a printing company in Poland owning a Rapida 74 and printing on PVC in practical industrial operation. Once the facts were assembled, the decision to buy the sheetfed offset machine was made. Already well acquainted with conventional offset printing system, was it difficult for them to switch off to waterless offset?

    “Although one week training in waterless printing was included in KBA purchase, we obtained two weeks. After just one week our printers were fully capable in this new way of printing. We left the remaining week for the future. Since then, no more conventional offset print is used for quality jobs produced in our company.”

    A large panel of plastic cards in different languages and texts, Cyrillic, Arab or Chinese, demonstrates the international activity of Roldan Gráficas.

    In the dry and windy Mediterranean countries, dust is often the major foe the printers must face. The situation is made worse because the plastic surfaces attract the unwanted dust particles.

    A completely clean environment is therefore necessary to avoid the problems that may arise from these troublesome particles. In addition to this, Roldan Gráficas’ procedures guarantee accuracy in all the graphic steps, from design, prepress and die cutting to the finished product.

    This is not an easy task when bearing in mind that they have to cope with unfamiliar Cyrillic, Arab or Chinese language characters when they print the plastic cards ordered. With such a clean and professional structure in the company, how did the waterless method evolve? How did the printer react to the new system?

    “We had to restrain our press crews who wanted to go too far with the new capabilities of the waterless machine because they were excited with the results they achieved.

    In addition to the superb tone range, smooth and uniform among all the 80 plastic cards on a printed sheet, they were able to exactly control the dot gain and reproduction curve to obtain colors like red and black which had previously been unknown to them.

    Important too was the opinion of the firm’s Finance Director: “We should have bought this machine sooner.” After one year of operation, Roldan Gráficas waits for new versions, to replace the conventional offset printing presses in operation.

    A plastic card printer does not survive on quality alone.

    How does a firm cope with the strict EU regulations related to safety and environment in addition to those dictated by the local municipality?

    In a global market EU companies must face competition of emerging industrial countries (India, China, even from Mauritania and Morocco). These printers manufacture similar products using equipment that lack the extra safety and environmental devices like those required by the EU.

    These machines may cost less than 60% of the a machine intended to operate in similar conditions as ones in an EU country. Salaries may also be 50% lower but, does any Spanish Company exporting 75% of their production receive any help from the local Administration?

    Not at all; there is none, rather they are charged heavy taxes. Even to put a sign with the name of the company on their building, within their courtyard, duly walled, will require a fee to be paid. A private written request, mailed to the local Administration to verify the fee has not merited an answer, even after 60 days have elapsed from the request date. Will you give up facing so many difficulties? “Not at all,” confirms Albert, “rather we are looking to enlarge the present market offering the new technology we have developed along with the updated machines like the KBA Rapida 74 which is specially suited to print waterless on plastics while allowing environmental benefits. Is it true? The plastic sector has not earned the best publicity among environmental advocates…

    The plastic sheets used at Roldan Gráficas generate wastes like the punched hole particles used in the supermarket buying cards. Also they are trimmed to exact sizes before they are delivered to the supermarket chains.

    All this waste is recovered by specific companies and, after being extruded, it is used to make irrigation or conductive tubes for liquid transports like the ones used by the municipality substructures.

    This does not apply to other materials like polycarbonate cards and derivatives that do not meet the printing quality or finishing performance standards of Roldan Gráficas.

    It is unusual for a Spanish printing company to take such extreme care to recycle waste and reuse it for other purposes. But they also eliminate the use of solvents for cleaning the silkscreen stencils and the use of the waterless offset in 90% of their printing activities eliminates IPA (isopropyl alcohol) while avoiding waste water contamination.
    The conventional offset printing system has to cope with both of these issues. Even if a substitute for IPA is employed, the VOCs may reach 1,300 ppm (particles per million).

    Roldan Gráficas, not only operates in a very sanitary environment using waterless printing on plastic substrates but it is one of the best of around 40 different Spanish printing companies we have visited in the last two years.

    Aiming to “Be the best in your own activity” is the target of Roldan Gráficas, a true professional in the art of printing plastic cards with waterless offset all the way from design to finishing. The fact that 75% of their production is shipped to customers in foreign countries like Germany, Holland, Finland or Arab countries is proof of their excellence.

    In such markets peak quality is of paramount importance. The USA would also be included amongst their client list if some difficulties could be overcome. While waiting for better opportunities in this progressive market, Roldan Gráficas concentrates in its existing ones.

    Being realistic and aware of their own limitations, they will not accept an order of 11 million plastic cards to be delivered within six weeks, as recently required by a western supermarket chain with 100 stores in China.

    Aware of emerging technologies available in the market for their needs, Albert does not hesitate to make a trip to Taiwan, stay there for two weeks to inspect a manufacturing process of the machine he has ordered according to the EU regulations or to pay a visit to the KBA factory in Dresden (Germany), to see the Rapida 74, followed by another to Poland to examine the same under actual operation and in a similar activity as the one used by Roldan Gráficas. The same would apply going to Russia to see in operation a brand new plastic card and highly accurate die cutting device.

    This is the price an entrepreneurial manager has to pay to stay on the leading edge of technology related to their business. With no practical help from the local government, small town companies like Roldan Gráficas, it is a wonder that the firm even exists in the face of the intense competition of larger firms operating on a global basis.

    Visit this printer on the web: (

  • 30 Oct 2010 3:35 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)

    Articles featuring the users of KBA Cortina waterless web presses may seem inappropriate to the majority of WPA printer members.  Even though the Cortina is a waterless machine, it was designed for the newspaper industry and not for commercial printing.  In the newspaper segment of the printing industry, the use of waterless printing would normally be inconspicuous.

    But the situation of newspaper printer EPC (Eco Print Center) in Belgium is not unlike that of many commercial waterless printers.  This is best reflected by a quote from the leading German print magazine, Deutscher Drucker, Issue 9 of March 2007: “while parts of the newspaper industry are concentrating (only) on reducing costs, other publishing houses are investigating new, innovative technical possibilities and uncovering the inherent opportunities to establish further competitive advantages on the publishing market.”

    74Karat Digital press

    EPC has pioneered the use of heat-set operation on the KBA Cortina normally used for cold-set newpaper printing. This gives the firm the flexibility of being able to print higher quality magazines, inserts and supplements normally out sourced to sheetfed printers.

    Until now EPC has been devoted to the printing of three different newspapers, one with a daily run of approximately 400,000 copies.  The other higher quality newspaper components like full color magazines, supplements, and inserts, were sourced to sheetfed printers.  Now, with one of the three ordered Cortina presses already installed, these products will now be printed on EPC’s new waterless machines.  (The two remaining four-tower Cortinas will be installed later in 2008.)

    Faced with the decision to invest in a new press, to add to the existing 4 MAN Colorman, EPC carefully studied waterless offset technology for three years before they decided to switch to it.  EPC investigated the feasibility of printing with cold set inks for the newspaper contents and then to heat-set for the magazines, inserts, supplements, brochures and leaflets the group was producing.  The results, after 8 months working in such a way, are quite satisfactory and once the two remaining Cortina presses are installed, the old presses, reduced to two, will print just the black and white financial papers.  Does the Cortina match the higher offset quality usually achieved by the commercial presses in the market?  “The offset waterless Cortina is not a substitute of the fully featured commercial press,” says the press manufacturer.  It may cope with around 80% of the commercial products usually distributed in the market, especially for the ones that require fast delivery and up-to-the minute- information accompanied by a reasonalbe cost.

    To accommodate the new printing machinery a totally new building, strategically placed in Lokeren, not far from Brussels, was erected.  With approximately 39,000 sq meters of floor space, more than 100 million euros have been invested.  It will house three Cortina presses, each with four towers, in eight printing pairs.  EPC facilities have been fitted with the latest technology designed to handle, at the beginning of 2009, the daily production of between 400,000 to 600,000 full color newspapers.  About 25% of the operating time of the presses is intended for the Flemish local population of six million people.  The printing of color magazines, brochures, leaflets, inserts, etc. will occupy the rest (75%) of the presses’ production time, non stop, from Sunday evening until early Saturday morning.

    The yearly paper consumption will be approximately 70,000 tonnes while the plate consumption should reach 150,000 to 180,000 sq. meters a year.  EPC forecasts the yearly print in this first phase of the project with three presses of the six planned, around 200 million newspapers of the “Berliner” size, 100 million tabloid copies in cold-set and 120 million, also tabloid, in heat-set.  Yearly ink consumption will be between 750 and 1,000 tonnes.

    ECO stands for Ecology plus Economy at EPC.
    What are the goals behind the huge investment by EPC?  They not only relate to the printing equipment to produce newspapers like, DeMorgen with 70,000 daily copies, Het Parool with 80,000, Het Laatste Nieuws, around 400,000, and the commercial Magazines, Nina and several more.  Mr. Rudy Bertels, Managing Director of the Persgroep Publishing stated in front of 100 graphic professionals that “by heavily investing in this project EPC has responded to the challenge their newspapers are facing in the immediate future.”  At the same time, due to the fact that the presses Cortina are able to print with both cold-set and heat-set, thereby achieving maximum utilization, the return of their investment will be much faster.

    Codimag Press

    The huge installation at the EPC factory is worth 100 million Euros.

    Mr. Wim Maes, Technical Director at EPC for four years, and an expert in commercial offset printing, stated some key facts that confirm that “some publishing houses are investigating new, innovative technical possibilities,” such as the fact that the Company has gone from the “Belgian” format (520 x 365 mms.) to the “Berliner” (470 x 315 mms.) resulting in a 21% paper reduction.  Accordingly, the paper supplier was required to deliver the paper reels with a diameter of 1500 mms., not of 1250 mms. as before.  The number of reel changes were reduced by 44%.  The handling of the paper webs, from unloading the shipments until they are placed in the reel stands, is fully automatic which, further to the safety it represents to the operators, avoids waste, as it does at starting the press.  Usually 2.7% of the webs experience breakage in conventional offset presses: it is not the case at EPC.  In several weeks no web break was experienced.  This may be due to the fact that the printed paper is not wetted.

    Eco stands for ECOLOGY which at EPC is written with capital letters as per the steps undertaken, showing their respect for environmental matters.  Rain water is collected to use in the toilettes, the light comes from natural sources controlled by sensors, the paper tubes of the web reels are collected automatically, assembled and packed for recycling.  The inks, with a consumption of more than 750 tonnes, are automatically fed to the printing presses at a temperature of 30º to 32º.  The water for cooling the Cortina comes from the nearby North Sea and, in this windy part of Belgium, a portion of the electrical energy necessary to drive the printing equipment comes from local wind farms.  The forementioned, added to the environmental benefits of the waterless offset printing is something to highlight for publicity purposes.  “We are very well positioned with regard to commercial printers,” say Mr. Maes by showing the printed magazines delivered by the Cortina.  Everything is positive with the waterless printing?  No problems experienced switching-off to it?

    Although the Toray waterless plates are rated at 150,000 impressions with cold-set inks, sometimes 200,000 have been reached, “and in heat-set the impressions achieved are not below this figure.”  Usually the commercial products printed with heat-set inks at EPC in the Cortina are between 100,000 and 380,000 copies.  During our visit to the Company, the PreMedia Newsletter, number 1, Volume 12, with 80,000 copies and sixty pages, was printed.  On the cover: PRINTED WITH KBA CORTINA.  Dr. Ing. Karl Malik, editor of the Magazine distributed in US, South Africa and Australia, was amazed: “After five copies at start-up, the Cortina was delivering saleable copies.”

    Although Toray RL7 plates are used at EPC, Kodak supplies to a German newspaper printer the Scorpion X 54 waterless plate.  The three major plate manufacturers, Fuji, Agfa and Kodak have shown interest in delivering their own plates due to the high consumption of the seven Cortina press lines producing 70 million newspapers, plus supplements, magazines and community titles per month. Total offset waterless plates newspaper consumption is almost 500,000 sq meters.  World offset digital plates manufactured are 504 millions sq. meters.  Quite a success if we consider that the Cortina waterless press was introduced for the first time at the Drupa 2000.

    To switch from the conventional offset printing to waterless means a change in the behaviour of the operators.  Hermann Asal of the Badische Zeitung, agrees that it is necessary to be a printer to operate a waterless press like Cortina, although some say that even a butcher or a baker could print with such a simple printing method.  At Gráficas Roldan in Barcelona, two weeks training were scheduled by KBA.  After just one week the operators were so well trained that they wanted to “go too far,” aiming at getting even better results.  The manufacturer of the printing presses has trainers from the printing sector; they are or were real printers, some acting as consultants under KBA.  Obviously, not all operators learn in such a quick way as they should.  Important is that the press manufacturer is always at hand and in close contact with the project manager, Peter Benz, fixing matters and obtaining good results, conscious of the importance to have a printing press running smoothly.

    Conclusions: Not the biggest but the fastest

    “We are glad: 95.5% of the paper consumption of yearly 70,000 tonnes is saleable newspapers, 1.7% is waste from the actual printing process.”  A figure that would be hard to match with existing conventional offset printed newspapers, quoted as being worldwide 10.104% (a 13 percent increase from 2001), according to WAN (World Association of Newspapers).

    Mr. Manfred Werfel, research director, Ifra (the leading organization for newspaper and media publishing), after hearing the lecture delivered by Mr. Maes at the Barcelona Ifra meeting asked: “are you yet a newspaper printer?”  Maybe in ten years many newspapers will be printed as described by Mr. Maes; with cold-set and heat-set inks at the same time”.  As the path of the technology evolves and the pressures the society puts on it due to the climate burden, it is most likely that it will not take ten years time to change.  EPC, with newspapers of long runs is showing the way.  Other (Badische Zeitung and 6 more newspapers printers) have already placed their bet on waterless offset.  As the German trade magazine stated: “newspaper printing in waterless, is not something exotic; it is a real fact.” (By Bienvenido Andino, European Editor Waterless Currents)
  • 30 Oct 2010 3:30 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)

    UV Waterless Shines in Toronto Market

    According to Jack Youngberg co-founder of Somerset Graphics Co. Ltd. in Mississauga, Ontario, waterless printing should have a more prominent place in our industry. After spending many years in the trade Jack and Beth Youngberg started Somerset Graphics Co. Ltd in 1980.  They named the company after looking at a map of England and settling on "Somerset" county.

    Past experiences and connections served Somerset well in the early days.  Previous clients of Jack's migrated to Somerset and helped open additional doors through-out the advertising industry.  Selling out on the road during the day and starting production back at the shop at night enabled Somerset to experience tremendous growth during the early 1980's.  The sacrifice had paid off as Somerset became a fully functional multi-colour shop by the mid-1980's after taking delivery of the first 4-colour 26" Komori Lithrone press in Canada.  By 1989 Somerset had out grown its original location and moved to a new state-of-the-art 20,000 sq/ft production facility where they still remain today after many extensive renovations.

      Aarhuus - Printer of the Year
      Jack Youngberg Somerset President left with General Manager Ian Budge.

    Somerset was notably the first commercial printer in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) market to invest in 40" UV interdeck waterless technology.  That investment was complimented a year later by a smaller dedicated UV waterless press, a KBA Genius.  Both presses have far exceeded the initial expectations for high-quality UV waterless offset work.

    Somerset has maintained the same number of staff over the last 20 years forgoing expansion to focus on client solutions and personal service.  The ongoing success of Somerset is reflected by its' staff, a key group of hard working people who believe and take pride in what they do.  The average employee of Somerset has been with the company for over 17 years and includes multiple generations from the same family.

    Awards and recognition from industry peers have encouraged Somerset to keep raising the bar.  Taking home awards for "Best of Show" and "Best in Region" only serve to recognize the submitted entries.  Somerset believes that a lot of projects they produce are of award winning caliber but do not necessarily receive any accolades because they lack a "gimmicky" look or feel.  How often are awards judges taking into consideration the dot, the lack of ink and water mixture to soften dots or how hard a substrate is to feed through a press? Asks Jack.

    Historically the design community helped propel Somerset into the global spotlight.  Toronto, Chicago, Boston & New York house some of the best boutique creative agencies in the world.  It is their concepts and idea's that have been brought to life on any substrate that have contributed to Somerset's success.  Somerset's approach to creative agencies is quite simple, once they work with us it would be very hard for them to have a comparable experience anywhere else.

    We admire Somerset¹s philosophy along with their choice of waterless UV printing as a focus of the marketing program.  We think Somerset will not only continue to shine in the Toronto market but also among their clients in Chicago and New  York. See them at

  • 30 Oct 2010 3:22 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)

    Anglia Print Service in Beccles, Suffolk has strengthened its position as one of the ‘greenest’ printers in the UK with the installation of a Presstek 34DI press. In the last four months the company has become more competitive and enjoyed significant savings on consumables, electricity, and paper wastage.

    “Five years ago, when I joined my father, Fred, who set up the company in 1978, I realized that we had to do something to differentiate ourselves,” said John Popely, who had worked for many years with some of the biggest names in the print industry.

    “There are six printers in a town with a population of 20,000 people and they were all offering the same service, so price was the big selling point. There was little loyalty as customers went from one company to another to find the best price. We were no different in trying to keep our operating costs as low as possible. We bought the lowest price consumables, the cheapest electricity and, apart from adhering to the hazardous waste regulations, there was no recycling at all. All our waste went into landfill sites,” he recalled. Now we have a 100 percent recycling record, including kitchen waste.

    “I’ve always felt strongly about environmental issues and so I set about making Anglia Print Services as ‘green’ as I possibly could,” he continued. “As a first step, we changed to ‘green’ energy and then we introduced vegetable-based inks and removed all chemistry that was alcohol or solvent based and we are now a climate neutral company. We also focused on paper with recycled content, which is good quality. We now buy so much of it; it’s cheaper to buy than conventional paper. We also set up a free recycling service for computer media and up until May this year, we collected 8 tons of CDs and DVDs, which would otherwise have gone into landfill. John first saw the Presstek DI presses about three years ago. “At that time, I looked at all the manufacturers on the market. I was interested in Presstek’s chemistry free process because it fitted in with our philosophy. Although the cost of acquiring a four-color press was prohibitive at that stage of our company’s development, I continued to follow the market and watch the developments in this technology. This year, as we were struggling to keep up with the demand for four color work, we did fleetingly look at the possibility of buying a four color litho press. We quickly dismissed the idea as we realized that a Presstek DI press with all its automation, together with Presstek’s comprehensive training would meet our needs. ”

    Leaner and more efficient

    The DI press replaced eight machines in total, including two presses and a variety of prepress equipment. “It’s reduced our energy consumption by 40 percent and has given us more space in the press room. Added to this, the machine itself has a small footprint,” John pointed out.

    “We were pleasantly surprised at how relatively easy it is to use compared with all the processes that we had to go through conventionally. On average it takes 15 minutes from RIPping a job to passing a sheet on press, whereas it used to take two hours. Now if it is very urgent, we can provide a same day delivery, otherwise we offer a standard 5 day turn around. When we take into account all the consumables and the different substrates we were using, we have reduced consumption by 40 percent. We have also reduced paper wastage by 30 percent because the DI comes up to color so much more quickly.”

    When it was delivered, it was supplied with mineral based ink but, at John’s request, Presstek sourced vegetable based waterless ink. As well as being environmentally friendly, waterless inks dry very quickly. Anglia used to leave a job to dry a day sometimes two before they backed it up but now they can do it within hours.

    Up to the challenge

    Everything, except for very short run color jobs up to 250 copies, is printed on the DI press including magazines which the company publishes. “We had one particularly tricky job, which was a brochure on 350gsm recycled silk stock with a four color process throughout and a heavy solid black background. We would have struggled to do this ourselves conventionally and as any commercial printer with a four color press, would have had to put it through twice to achieve the intensity of the solid black background,” John explained. “My heart sank when I saw it because I was convinced that we weren’t going to be able to do it on the DI either, particularly as we are still on a learning curve. Imagine our delight when we were able to do it in only 15 sheets. We are definitely going to put this job in for an award. Even Presstek was impressed with our results.”

    John anticipates that the company will double its sales on the back of the DI press. “We are only just starting to market ourselves with the DI, but have always operated an open house policy and invite anyone in to see what we do. We’ve already won local and national government work and been complimented on our environmental credentials. Our quality is excellent and we are much more competitive than we were, by a factor of 20 percent. I only wish I had two of them.”

    For more information click here:

  • 30 Oct 2010 3:21 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)

    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

    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.

    4801 Viewpoint Pl
    Cheverly MD 20781

    (Photos to come)

    In 1999 MOSAIC doubled its floor space when they moved into this facility. An addition to this building is planned for early 2008.

    Left to right MOSAIC’s management Joel Zelepsky Senior VP Marketing, Dale Ford, President and co-owners Brendan Connors and Joe Fontana.

    The Mosiac pressroom will soon see two new B1 waterless UV six color machines installed.

    Plans to increase their floor space by an additional 30,000 square feet (2,787 m) are in the works for early 2008 and will help accommodate two new 6 color UV waterless presses.

  • 30 Oct 2010 3:20 PM | Keiji Obata (Administrator)

    Way back in 1971 Harold Amos was an early adopter of the original 3M “Driography” process now known as waterless printing. Unfortunately, in those days it wasn’t easy because inks were imperfect and temperature control just didn’t exist. It was not until the early 1990’s that Amos Communications resumed waterless printing with all the new tools that assured success.

    Nearly 30 years later, Harold Amos and his pressmen were witnesses to a momentous event in the brief history of waterless printing: the successful trial of a water-washable ink by Sun Chemical Ink (GPI) for use with waterless plates. The positive environmental impact of this product on the printing industry is enormous.

    When we say enormous we mean the potential to virtually eliminate pressroom related volatile organic compounds (VOCs, also known as nonmethane volatile organic compounds or NMVOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).

    The Environmental Impact of a Water-washable Waterless Ink

    One way to view the amount of total VOCs reduction using the combination of waterless printing and water-washable ink can be illustrated by looking at the Model Plant Product Use as published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). In the USEPA draft document, Control of Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Offset Lithographic Printing, published in September, 1993, the estimates were based upon printing plants using 17% IPA (isopropyl alcohol) and uncontrolled VOC emissions (without add-on pollution control devices).

    Based upon the USEPA Model Data, with all other operational parameters constant (fountain IPA, inks, roller and blanket washes), a non-heatset sheetfed printer employing 10 – 19 people produces a total of four U.S. tons of VOC per year (3.628 metric tons).

    Given the combination of dampening-free waterless printing and the water-washable ink, pressroom VOCs could nearly be eliminated. In Amos Communications’ case, they print waterless on all of their printing presses, so the only VOCs that might be found are in the prepress area where film cleaners and plate processing chemistry is used (see editor’s note).

    One American printer has shared data with the Waterless Printing Association that will also help put the potential reduction of pressroom VOCs into perspective. This printer reported that total VOCs related to blanket and roller washes was 6.7 U.S. tons (6.08 metric tons) amounting to 38.2% of its total output.

    Harold Amos and many other waterless printers around the world will be quick to realize the added benefits of a water-washable ink product.

    A Important Ink Distinction

    According to Dick Drong, Sun’s Sheetfed Ink Marketing Manager, Drilith W2 is a new waterless ink which has been modified to allow the use of a “press wash solution” consisting of water and a surfactant (similar to soap) instead of VOC laden solvents. This is not a water-based ink, there is no water in the product! In addition, the amount of VOCs in the ink itself are so low that they constitute less than 1% according to the USEPA Method 24 testing procedure.

    The VOC content of Sun’s regular waterless ink ranges from 15 to 24 % VOCs (by weight). On the other hand, mineral oil/printing ink distillate contents of the Drilith W2 product are only marginally higher than the Nevada Oxi and Sahara Eco-Dri inks which are claimed to contain no VOCs. These products are made by Classic Colours, a leading European supplier of sheetfed waterless inks based in England. A similar claim is shared by Akzo Nobel Inks who have also introduced a similar product based on vegetable oils called Lito Flora Dry.

    Despite these zero VOC inks, conventional solvents must be used for roller and blanket washing.

    Three Years in Development

    Before Sun’s ink reached Amos Communications, the product had been under development for nearly three years. For about two years the product has been tested under the critical eyes of L&E Packaging in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the early stages of development the product suffered from a lack of gloss compared with conventional waterless ink.

    How Does It Work?

    Harold Amos and Sun Chemical scheduled the test on a clean, temperature controlled press bright and early on a Monday morning. Without the benefit of warming to proper operating temperature, experienced waterless pressmen Richard Fraas and Wally Simpson had to push more ink than normal. But once the press was warmed up, the ink began to flow normally.

    A 7-color test form supplied by the press manufacturer was used for comparison purposes. Side by side comparisons on coated paper were extremely encouraging, despite the fact that three PMS colors had to be hand mixed from the process set supplied by Sun.

    All were delighted to see the level of gloss rendered by the ink. Higher levels of gloss on the order of 15 units could be achieved, according to Sun, using a water based coating (WBC) application. Interestingly, when Amos applied their own aqueous coating, it actually decreased ink gloss. This was likely due to an unknown compatibility issue with the particular brand of coating being used.

    Once plate temperature had reached the upper 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), the ink seemed to perform much better. Except for solid ink trapping characteristics and the high temperature tolerance, the ink performed just like a normal waterless ink. Sun’s Dick Drong and chemist Dr. Emmanuel Dimotakis noted that more work would be done on the trapping performance. They were accompanied by Bruce Hornesz (sales Sun-Cleveland).

    Drying time was quite impressive. We have no reason to dispute the claim that the rub resistance of Drilith W2 in 5 minutes is better than a conventional waterless ink after 24 hours. It should also be noted that the relative lack of mineral oils or petroleum distillates seems to ensure good press stability, i.e., the press can remain at rest for extended periods of time without drying on the rollers. The product can remain in the ink duct without skinning overnight and possibly for as long as 48 hours.

    Encouraged by the test results, a live job was run for comparison on the Amos 6-color press. With outstanding results it seemed to Harold Amos and the author that trapping was only a minor issue compared to the ultimate benefit of a water-washable product. At the conclusion of the test Amos only wanted to know when he could place an order for the product.

    Is Precious Metal Going to Rust?

    All the press trials to date have shown that the product itself does not cause any rust on the press. Again the ink contains no water. Using the prescribed wash solution containing water and surfactant, similar to the ingredient in soap, Amos’ pressmen were able to quickly and cleanly wash the rollers and blankets.

    According to Dick Drong, both the ink and the surfactant used were developed in concert with each other. Since several presses already use water as part of the washing process, the formation of rust should not be a problem. In fact, Sun’s goal is to wash up with 100% water.

    A Word About Surfactants

    A surfactant can briefly be defined as a material that can greatly reduce the surface tension of water when used in very low concentrations. Soap, by this definition, is a surfactant. Surfactants allow the detergent solution to wet the ink-soiled rollers and blankets so that the ink can be suspended in water and thus easily flushed from the surfaces being cleaned. Sun claims there are no HAPs in the specially formulated press wash and therefore it can be disposed of safely in landfills.

    Waterless Plate and Press Compatibility

    Between L&E Packaging and Sun Chemical’s own laboratory tests, the ink has worked with Toray and Presstek PearlDry waterless plates, as well as Kodak Polychrome’s plate now in beta testing.

    As other waterless ink manufacturers have found, Sun anticipates that the ink will be formulated for specific press sizes. So far the product has been run on 28 and 40 inch (74 and 102 cm) presses. It has also been tested at 1000 feet per minute on a heatset web machine. There may be the potential to develop the product for UV cured applications.

    Harold Amos Knows…

    With 50 years of printing experience under his belt, Harold Amos knows that a cleaner printing environment will not only benefit his employees and lower his total VOC emissions, but it will also mean a lot to his customers, who are increasingly concerned about the environment as well.

    Now armed with both 8-page and 4-page multicolor waterless presses, the firm’s printing capacity demands even more effort to eliminate VOCs and workplace chemical hazards.

    From the firm’s base of operations in the small town of Beloit, Ohio, Amos is about an hour’s drive from the much bigger markets they serve in Cleveland, Akron and Pittsburgh. Armed with the advantages of a water-washable waterless ink, Amos should be able to capture a larger share of these markets.

    Editor’s Note: Toray’s plate processing NP-1 Pre-treatment Solution waste comes under regulatory control. However, the estimated NP-1 waste generated compared to the amount of conventional printing’s fountain waste is minimal. At a rate of 300undefined40” negative plates processed per month, we estimate that regular chemistry changes would result in less than 20 gallons of waste annually. The results may vary according to plate and image sizes. Aqueous substitutes have been under study.

    (Photos to come)

    Harold Amos chats with Sun’s Bruce Hronesz during the momentous water-washable ink trial.

    Pressman Richard Fraas cleans up with a solution of 93% water and 7% detergent.

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