Commercial print shops in industrialized countries often pursue cost leadership as a business model to ensure they are competitive. To achieve lean and standardized print production, they require suitable presses with a high level of automation, simple operation, and short makeready times.
The Speedmaster XL 106 from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is becoming a benchmark in the 70 x 100 cm (27.56 x 39.37 in) format thanks to the outstanding preset functions throughout the press - from the feeder and printing units to the perfecting device and delivery. It was unveiled at drupa 2012 and since then over 300 eight-, 10-, and 12-color long perfectors have been installed, mostly in countries such as the UK, Germany, the U.S., Japan, Belgium, and Switzerland. Print shops value the long-term stability of this press, as it enables them to produce the maximum number of saleable print sheets cost-effectively across a wide range of substrates.
The Speedmaster XL 106 offers the broadest range of configurations in the 70 x 100 cm format. It supports from two to 19 units, with or without perfecting device.
As a customized press, it is available as an LPL configuration (coating unit before and after sheet reversal), as a Duo press with flexographic printing units before the offset units, or as a rotary die cutter for products such as inmold labels. In the LPL version, the front and reverse sides of the sheet are printed and coated in a single pass and the sheet arrives on the pile so dry that it can be passed on directly to postpress. This delivers productivity 30% to 40% higher than for a straight press.
British commercial printer Stephens & George recently invested more than €7.1 million (more than £6 million) in two new Speedmaster XL 106 eight-color perfecting presses with production speeds of 18,000 sheets per hour.
"This time we also obtained a quote from another supplier but, following an evaluation by my print shop manager and myself, we once again opted for Heidelberg," said Andrew Jones, managing director at Stephens & George. "We're convinced the Speedmaster XL 106 is superior to all other presses."
Stephens & George ordered two Speedmaster XL 106 presses at drupa 2012, including the world's first eight-color with a production speed of 15,000 sheets per hour and a five-color with a speed of 18,000 sheets per hour, which has enabled it to achieve significant productivity increases. The two new presses have now been ordered to process the ever increasing number of orders.
"Our average run lengths have fallen from 7,500 to 6,500 in the last few years, with the result that minimal makeready times are very important for us," said Jones. The first of the new presses will be delivered in February 2014, and the second a year later, with an older press then also being replaced.
Stephens & George has a workforce of approximately 230 employees, with production divided equally between magazines and advertising materials. The company, which was founded in 1912, has branches in London and Glasgow and a state-of-the-art print shop in Merthyr Tydfil and is one of the leading commercial printers in the UK.
By ordering two Speedmaster XL 106 10-color presses, Welsh commercial print shop Westdale Press in Cardiff has also opted once again for Heidelberg.
"We'd actually toyed with the idea of going with another manufacturer but, at the end of the day, we have the utmost trust in the technology from Heidelberg we have been using so far," said Alan Padbury, managing director. The pressroom already houses two other Speedmaster XL presses in the 75 x 105 cm format.
"We expect double-digit growth in productivity from our new Speedmaster XL 106 with Prinect Inpress Control, Autoplate XL, and a production speed of 15,000 sheets per hour,” Padbury said. “This press will be delivered in April 2014 and will then replace an older model, which was the world´s first 12-color XL."
It will be used mainly to produce shorter runs between 500 and 10,000 sheets. This will be followed a year later by the installation of the Speedmaster XL 106 10-color perfecting press, equipped with Prinect Inpress Control and offering a speed of 18,000 sheets per hour. It will be used to produce longer runs, and Westdale Press forecasts 70 million prints a year on this press alone. The 140 employees produce quality print products such as brochures, direct mailings, calendars, and high-gloss magazines around the clock.
"We've remained profitable even in the crisis and are now seeing a market upturn and print buyers who are spending money on quality," noted Padbury.
Germany continues to be the largest market for Speedmaster XL 106 long perfectors and is also where numerous customers have once again invested in this press or placed follow-up orders this year. Print shops in the U.S., Japan, and the UK also value this highly productive press and place their trust in technology from Heidelberg. Heidelberg has thus increased its market share in long perfectors in the 70 x 100 cm format to almost 80%.