Belgium’s Coldset Printing Partners updates press & mailroom operations

Adds waterless offset technology to its operations

CPP’s press control room

Czech Republic-based Toray Graphics, a manufacturer of waterless offset plate technologies, reported that the Belgian printing company Coldset Printing Partners (CPP) has invested EUR 35 million to update its press and mailroom capabilities.

This investment, required to improve quality and productivity, also had sustainability in its sights. The company converted a part of its operations to waterless offset printing by adding the Koenig & Bauer Cortina printing press in conjunction with Toray IMPRIMA waterless offset printing plates.

“Part of that initiative was to add the waterless offset technology to our operations” says CEO of CPP, Paul Huybrechts. “We now have a press line consisting of 11 towers and five folders. That includes four new Koenig & Bauer Cortina waterless towers with two folders, and seven towers of the existing Koenig & Bauer Commander conventional coldset web press with three folders.”

While this change meant a reduction of the maximum pagination for most of the newspapers from 96 to 64 pages, there is still one folder capable of handling 96 pages if needed. “The result of this reconfiguration,” Huybrechts adds, “is a total capacity increase of 25%, even with the Brussels closure.”

Another goal was to increase the print quality and enable the production of commercial work without the need to add heatset. That was the reason for adding the Cortina towers using Toray IMPRIMA waterless offset plates. “Including a varnishing unit and using an appropriate white paper quality allows you to achieve a top-quality product which is really comparable to heatset,” Huybrechts notes. “This is important because we believe that for the future of this site, we need to have a good answer for a certain quality level. It also gives us the opportunity to print magazines that are currently printed in heatset. In fact, this is already beginning to happen.” The plant is producing about 500,000 newspapers per night and about 40 million copies a month in total, about 30% of which is third-party work.

On the sustainability front, Huybrechts points out that the Cortina towers do not use solvents or water, adding, “But even more important is that we have a very low start-up and running waste. It takes around 30% longer to make-ready the Commander than the Cortina, and the start-up waste can be double or even more. Waste on the Cortina can be as low as 80 copies of white paper and 40 printed copies.”

The prepress department is also benefiting from these changes with the Heights waterless plate processors used to process the IMPRIMA waterless plates. Huybrechts states, “The Toray plates are non-ablative, meaning less cleaning of the equipment is required.”

Huybrechts admits that ink and plates can be more costly with waterless offset printing. Ink cost increases due both to the actual cost of ink and the ability to achieve higher ink coverage. “However,” he says, “that is only one piece of the puzzle. You always have to look at the complete picture. For instance, we can charge more since we can achieve a quality very close to heatset without having to use a dryer, which is not only expensive to run but also has high CO2 emissions and other sustainability issues. Plus, the energy consumption of the Cortina is lower than that of the Commander, with as much as 5% less energy use. And the Cortina is so easy to use, that even I can run it!”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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