Located a few hours’ drive southeast of Dallas, Texas, ColorMark is a premier printing company specializing in offset sheet-fed production. A large portion of ColorMark’s business is printing high quality menus on Polylith® synthetic papers. Combining the latest advances in print technology with traditional craftsmanship, ColorMark espouses a commitment to service and an attention to detail.
Handling a wide variety of print projects from start to finish, including print preparation, production, binding services, fulfilment, and shipping, the ColorMark team brings a wealth of experience to every project they undertake.
Looking to improve upon its curing printing processes, ColorMark began searching for a way to reduce their turnaround times and operating expenses. After an exhaustive investigation, in 2015 ColorMark decided to add a LED energy curing solution to their 2007 Heidelberg CD102 - 6 color press with an aqueous coater.
They purchased an LED-UV system from Air Motion Systems (AMS), located in River Falls, Wisconsin. The LED module was positioned in the interdeck after the sixth print unit, and a full conventional UV module was installed after the coater. To maximize their investment, ColorMark also chose to update their two roll coating unit to TRESU UniPrint Combi – chambered doctor blade system with anilox roller.
After working on-site with the various manufacturers for a few days for system set up and training, ColorMark was ready to begin running “live work.” As with most new things, there were a few early challenges to overcome. UV and LED-UV inks have smaller water pick-up windows, which requires the operator to slightly change some of the start-up procedures. The operator was no longer able to simply hold down the manual metering button in order to clean the plates faster. Plus, the excess fountain solution in the roller-train could cause an adverse effect on the overall adhesion of inks on various substrates. Once the operator got a feel for the differences between conventional ink and LED-UV inks, it was off to the races. There were no significant differences in color-matching, and with some slight tweaks to the plate curves, the operation and end-product were virtually the same as they were prior to installing the LED-UV system. However, there were some dramatic differences as well.
Historically, ColorMark’s lead-time for Polylith® jobs was seven days. After printing side one, the work required two full days of dry time. The sheets would then be run through the press once again and dead-hit to remove the spray powder. Printing the reverse side had the same time-consuming complications – two more days were lost, plus the extra blanket washes and load racking. With LED-UV, jobs are now immediately turned over and backed up, all without the need for any spray powder – and the entire printing is completed “from soup to nuts” in one day.
Following printing, the job is then immediately taken to the finishing departments, saving 5 to 6 days of production and hold time as previously required with conventional inks. Because the ink is immediately cured, marking and scratches are eliminated in all production processes, saving even more time and money. One of the greater unforeseen cost savings for ColorMark was how few product overs were required to achieve the final count. On the very first job alone, ColorMark saved more than $5,000 in material costs because of the AMS LED-UV Energy Curing Solution – with many more jobs and savings yet to come.