Last updateWed, 29 Nov 2023 12pm

Foster Printing Upgrades Koenig & Bauer Presses with Lithec LithoFlash

Lithec, a global leader of inline color control and inspection systems for the graphic communications industry, announces the installation of LithoFlash at Foster Printing. Based in Santa Ana, CA, Foster Printing is a large-format trade printer with a primary focus on packaging, POP displays, signage and posters.

Undeterred by the COVID pandemic, Foster invested in a new six-color, 64’ K&B Rapida 164 in the fall of 2020. Foster chose to add Lithoflash to their new press; Lithec and K&B worked hand in hand to insure a smooth installation and start-up. This marks the first installation of LithoFlash on a new K&B press installation in the United States. This is the second installation of LithoFlash on presses at Foster Printing. While known as the only in-press color control system that can be retrofitted on all major sheet-fed presses, Foster installed LithoFlash on their six-color, 81” K&B Rapida 205 in 2019.
Lower make-ready waste
“We were analyzing how we could lower our make-ready times and make-ready waste,” states Tim Blackburn, President of Foster Printing. “Inline color inspection alters the notion of pressman pulling sheets and making adjustments to the ink keys to get to color. We put LithoFlash in the hands of our pressmen who now trust a computer, a camera and software to get to color faster and keep it there consistently though the run.”
“I would say the majority of our make-ready savings are on average 200 to 250 sheets per run,” observes Steve Gutmann, Production Manager for the company, “and it’s getting better. Because the camera is looking at every single sheet, it holds color better than the previous system. On our previous equipment, the pressman was pulling a sheet every 500, scanning it and making the corrections manually. With LithoFlash, color bars are being read automatically and adjustments sent to the ink keys in real time.”
Consistent color throughout the press run
LithoFlash not only reduces make-ready time and make-ready waste, but also maintains consistent color throughout the press run. This translates into reduced waste during a long press run, which can dwarf the savings found in reduced make-ready waste. “With difficult artwork, it is very easy to have a color swing over a large run,” comments Tim Blackburn. “A pressman can get fatigued looking at the same sheet for his entire shift. Also, the color can move when a print run spans multiple press shifts. After delivering the job to a converter, we’ve had situations in the past where the cutters flag 1,800 sheets with a color shift. In the past, that would mean we would have to go pick up the work, bring it all back, take out those 1800 sheets and then send it back. That is not going on anymore. We are looking at less flags in the load… the color is locked.”
“We often have multiple forms for one project,” comments Kris Blackburn, VP of Sales. “Because our two K&B presses have LithoFlash, we can split the forms between both presses. It doesn't matter what press, what sheet size, or what form we're going to be producing in a brother and sister product. They're going to look the same. There were times before where you could be nervous or apprehensive about being able to meet the customer standards with holding color or achieving the color and making sure it's consistent throughout a run. With LithoFlash on both presses, we have a new sense of security knowing that the job's going to be produced correctly.”
“Our pressmen are very conscientious,” observes Steve Gutmann, Production Manager for the company. “They said they’d feel better running a little slower, giving them more time to pull sheets and look for things, thinking this would minimize waste. We would say, ‘no, run the press as fast as it can feed. You have all the tools in front of you to help you.’ We knew what LithoFlash would do for production. We knew it wasn’t a matter of if the pressmen would like it or not. It was only how long was it going to take until they realized what this technology would do for them. When that ‘aha’ moment hit, it was like the skies opened up for them.”
“LithoFlash has allowed Foster Printing to keep their customers happy, meet tough timelines, and tackle tough quality products,” states Scott Sell, Western Sales Director, Lithec USA. “They are getting the work because their customers trust them. That trust is instilled by their commitment to putting the best equipment on the floor and selecting the best vendors to support them.”



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