How to choose your web press by type of project

Web printing is a complete solution for the commercial print type, that come in large editions but with a short delivery term. Web printing machines are equipped with in-line finishing systems so your project results in a final product. The page format may vary from A5 (book), A4 (magazine), tabloid or newspaper format, full color on both sides, with different color options. It may use different types of paper, regardless of the quality and can print on various paper layouts from 40 g / m² to 115g / m².

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Web printing is suitable for large and very large print runs, covering a wide range of products such as magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, catalogs and other trade publications. However, there is a category of web presses suitable for other types of projects called narrow web presses due to the fact that they are usually than 24″ in width. In the beginning, narrow web presses were used for printing self-adhesive tape with simple markings or company names and logos.

For such a simple process there was no need for large equipment. Then, with the printing of pressure sensitive and self-adhesive labels, some other operations like die cutting had to be included.

The main distinction of narrow web presses is the ability to perform multiple converting operations on the same pass through the press, along with printing. This provides a complete converting system for pressure sensitive labels on sheets, both roll form or fanfold stacks. Narrow web presses are used for short runs and are ideal for work which needs quick changeover. Products printed on narrow web presses, generally represent flexo projects meaning, small folding cartons, business forms, closures (lids), tickets, tags, multiple layer coupons, pressure sensitive labels and flexible packaging.

As the labels and packaging market continues to grow and develop presses are still selling despite the challenging economical context. The narrow web presses market is well developed and there are quite a number of manufacturers engaged in the competition for the best solutions. What all narrow web flexo press manufacturers have in common is to give a hand for printers to reduce downtime, improve profitability and produce print at the highest quality standards.

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This market has several trends among which, going for wider versions of the existing models, oriented towards opportunities in flexible packaging and folding carton, short runs. This leads us into the area of mid web presses, that already present themselves in many different sizes and having expanded capabilities. Thus, the line between the narrow and the mid size presses turn out to be a very thin one.

Comapanies such as, Omet (Italy) expanded its presses and now, the Varyflex V2 in four printing widths is available. Others, like MPS, came up with the EXL Packaging press which is 660 mm at its widest, while Gidue’s Master M5 flexo is available in 620 mm. Edale (England), who introduced the new FL-3 flexo press last year has just announced that this will be followed in 2014 with a 760 mm wide version, resulting the new FL-5.

Yet, a question still remains: how does a printing company decide which is the right press? First of all they have to think of the type of projects they want to deal with: whether they are newspapers, books, labels or products related to the packaging industry. Each category demands its own machine type. Then, another important issue, is that related to acquisition costs: new or used web press?

Here, the problem is easily solved just by checking up a related website, such as Usedpresses.org, where you can find not only machinery models but also a piece of advice to help you decide. Although the selection criteria varies from one company to another keep in mind that the machine must suit its production methods as a supplier of specialised services.

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