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Blackmore LED’s the Way!

Blackmore LED’s the Way!

1 Dec 2014

Blackmore LED’s the Way

Blackmore Limited is to install the UK’s first AMS-enabled KBA LED-PRINTING press at its Shaftesbury sheetfed press hall. Replacing a Heidelberg CD74, the new 4-colour B1 RAPIDA 105 LED press with thick stock option will represent a significant uplift in capacity and broadening of product capabilities as part of Blackmore’s response to changing market requirements in the commercial sector; of equal importance to the £7.2m turnover Dorset print house are the environmental credentials of the new LED and RAPIDA technologies.

"We had been researching this investment for at least twelve months and that meant a thorough assessment of the new UV processes that have been coming on stream in the last couple of years. This was important because we wanted to step up the format to B1 to benefit from higher unit output per impression, and the reductions in run-up waste and faster processing that UV offers would help retain competitiveness on the shorter runs. Added to that, we wanted to introduce more opportunities to add value for our customers, so our ‘wish-list’ also included the ability to run a range of thicker and more interesting stocks. There were several machines that met these criteria using the ‘Highly-reactive or Low-Energy’ UV systems and, for a long period, that was where we were going. But then KBA came up with the LED-PRINTING solution and, having heard about it during our visit to Drupa – and appreciating how much more eco-friendly it promised to be, we had to investigate." explains David Bland Sales and Marketing Director.

Unlike H-UV and LE-UV, LED-PRINTING does not involve the use of soon-to-be outlawed mercury; nor does it infuse heat into the printed sheet. Yet LED emits three times the intensity of light to give deeper, harder, more consistent curing while using just half the energy. In fact, AMS (Air Motion Systems) reports that its next-generation diodes give up to 60% energy saving over their H-UV and LE-UV counterparts and, unlike them, retain their efficiency at maximum press production speeds. At 20,000 hours, diode lifespan is as much as fifty times greater, too, while new 100% bio-renewable LED inks, featuring low migration certification, are available from the main ink vendors.

For Blackmore’s Production Director, Nigel Hunt, the new investment will impact the entire operation, and not just the press hall: "There are lots of factors that play into the equation as well as the reduced waste and energy savings. Cutting out spray powder will save a lot of headaches and we will be able to print deeper stacks, because there’s no heat in the sheets, which will save a lot of floorspace throughout the downstream areas. And because jobs will be able pass though the system straight from the press our whole enterprise will be more efficient and more responsive."

Mr Hunt was acutely aware that the increases in productivity from reduced downtimes and more jobs-per-shift could be compromised if the quality regime was not up to the mark:

"Speed is the crucial element; we will be making ready in, perhaps, a quarter of the time we are currently used to, and printing shorter runs at faster speeds, so the closed-loop QualiTronic colour control goes hand-in-hand with the overall package; it assures us of the levels of quality we are committed to delivering to our customers. It’s a very impressive system."

Andrew Pang, KBA (UK) Ltd. Managing Director, comments: "In any comparison between the emerging UV technologies, the case for LED-PRINTING is compelling. The groundbreaking solution that KBA has developed in conjunction with AMS is not just ahead of the market in terms of timescale, but also in technology. That an organisation with the history, reputation and informed discernment of Blackmore recognises this, supports our expectation that KBA’s LED-PRINTING will play a major role in the development of litho printing, going forward."