Award-winning large-format printer retrofits second press with LithoFlash Inline Color System
Over the past 30 years, Los Angeles-based Superior Lithographics has successfully grown their business by creating a company culture that would ultimately lead to the success of their customers. This management style, espoused by Founder and President, Doug Rawson, enabled Superior Lithographics to introduce leading edge inline color control on their offset presses from Lithec.
“We started the company 30 years ago with three people,” states Rawson. “We now have 120 employees and run a 24/7 operation. We have 8 people on the management team, and have de-centralized the decision making process, empowering group decisions.” In 2018, the printing company became the first in the nation to retrofit the LithoFlash Inline Color System on an existing press. The German-engineered color in-press technology had already found success in Europe prior to being launched in the U.S. market. In January of this year, Superior Lithographics retrofitted LithoFlash on a second press.
“As we moved toward newer markets like folding carton, the difference in colors once a product hits the shelves becomes more apparent,” states Jeff Ku, Vice President of Operations. "It was clear to us that we had to up our game on the color quality side. Short of buying a new press, we identified the Lithec LithoFlash as a way to take our current capital equipment, apply a relatively inexpensive product, and level the playing field. With the reporting functions that are part of the system, we have been able to provide customers with quantifiable data and allowed us to identify areas to provide consistent color quality.”
LithoFlash® Inline is engineered to scan color bars automatically as the sheets run through the press, eliminating the need to do a manual scan at the press console. Automatically measuring the ink densities of the color bar allows the system to dynamically adjust ink keys.
“Since we have installed LithoFlash our biggest cost savings has come with the amount of sheets we have saved,” comments Jim Eagan, Print Production Manager. “We’ve pretty much cut our make-readies in half going from about an 800 sheet makeready to a 400 sheet makeready. LithoFlash allows me to install an inline scanning densitometer on an older press to achieve the quality expectations found on newer equipment. Our press operators have embraced this new technology as it helps them to improve their quality. It has provided newer press operators an added resource to make better decisions on color.”
Based on case studies, a conservative estimate of saved makeready time is 6-8 minutes, reducing sheets of waste paper by 400 sheets. Once correct color is achieved, the system constantly monitors the tone value increase, print contrast and trapping parameters without press operator intervention. The end result is consistent quality printing, faster runs and cost savings.
“Every automatic scan from the LithoFlash would be the equivalent of 10 to 12 pulls in the conventional way of scanning the color bar at the press console,” continues Eagan. “The system is identifying trends within six sheets to make adjustments. In the 150 sheets that can be burned in one manual pull at the console, LithoFlash has already gathered data from 25 automatic scans.”
“Superior Lithographics is at the leading edge of printers who are adopting fully-automatic inline color management,’ states John Sweeney, VP of Sales, LithecUSA. “Bringing this technology to a wide range of existing sheetfed offset presses provides a powerful ROI to existing capital equipment and streamlines production.”