Belgian company leverages print quality for business growth
Toray Graphics in the Czech Republic, a leading manufacturer of waterless offset plate technology, today reported that Belgian printing company Coldset Printing Partners has converted most of its operations to waterless offset printing using Toray IMPRIMA printing plates and Koenig & Bauer Cortina printing presses. The company, which serves its parent newspaper publisher as well as external customers that require heatset quality offset printing, was formed in 2010 as a joint venture to consolidate two printing plants.
“We realized that newspaper printing would be under increasing pressure due to the growth in digital publishing,” said Paul Huybrechts, CEO. “Our primary printing plant was established in 1998 as a greenfield operation with four Koenig & Bauer presses using traditional wet offset. In 2013, we began looking at how to reinvent ourselves to better align with changing market conditions.”
Huybrechts reports that through a combination of attending drupa, and speaking with suppliers to the industry and industry colleagues, the company determined that investing in two Koenig & Bauer Cortina waterless offset presses with Toray IMPRIMA plates was the best approach, and the new configuration was implemented in 2016.
“The primary driver was the quality we could achieve with this solution,” Huybrechts explains. “As a coldset web press operation, we discovered that with waterless offset printing, we could achieve near-heatset quality, vastly increasing our flexibility and the variety of applications we could produce.”
Huybrechts points out that environmental considerations were also important in making the switch. “With waterless offset, we use no solvents and consume no water,” he says. “Plus our energy consumption is less that with conventional wet offset by about 3%, which really adds up. We have less cleaning operations and an overall smoother production process with less startup waste, often as little as 40 copies, important as run lengths continue to decline. What we hoped for has truly been realized with our Cortina presses and Toray plates.”
The company has a stringent recycling program, uses papers with almost 100% recycled fibers, and has a windmill that produces about 50% of its energy needs, with a plan to add solar energy by the end of the year. “We are also located near our supplier mills,” Huybrechts states, “which means there is less distance to transport materials, which also helps keep our carbon footprint in line. All of this is behind our tagline, ‘Waterless Printing. Naturally.’, a key selling point for us both internally and with our third-party customers.”
Also important to Huybrechts is Toray’s European manufacturing operation in the Czech Republic and its reliable partnership and short lead times. “I think Toray is a very professional manufacturer with top quality plates,” he says, “and its cooperation with Heights for processor development is also on the right track.
Huybrechts also notes that the company’s night-time production schedule is full in the production of its parent publishing house’s newspapers, adding, “But 30% of our turnover comes from third-party printing. To enhance quality even further, we installed a lacquer/varnish unit on one of our Cortina presses. The quality element, in comparison with heatset printing, is more and more important for our business, which is one of the reasons we invested in waterless offset printing. We think the future is high quality. Customers are increasingly demanding, and if you want to keep and grow that business, you need to meet their quality requirements. The Cortina presses with Toray plates allows us to do that. Now our daytime schedule is almost full as well!”
Huybrechts and his team are looking forward to hosting the Cortina users group meeting in September in Hasselt. “We’ll have some exciting news to share,” he says. “We have been developing closed-loop ink control for the Cortina in cooperation with Koenig & Bauer and Q.I. Press Controls. This is a well-understood process in wet offset but new to the Cortina environment. It allows us to better control the temperature of the anilox and the density of the ink. The first tests are already done, improving the already-high quality level of the Cortina, and we hope to launch this by the end of the year. Not only does it improve quality, but it further automates Cortina presses, making the press operator’s job easier and reducing potential errors due to operator intervention.