In its current incarnation, waterless printing has been around for nearly a decade, but has gone largely overlooked by publishers until recently. The perception seemed to be that waterless was just for short-run, high-end products such as corporate image brochures, annual reports and product brochures—and indeed those types of projects make up the bulk of waterless work. However, developments in the last year or two, including longer runs made possible on web offset presses and the success of computer-to-waterless-plate, have made publishers large and small sit up and take notice.
Even publishing giant Time Inc., New York City, is pursuing the process. Len Cuprynski, director of materials quality, is anxious to explore the benefits of waterless printing: enhanced and more consistent quality compared with conventional printing; reduction in paper makeready and running waste; elimination of the printing variables associated with ink/water balance; and the environmental advantages of the waterless process. Cuprynski feels that the more simplified and efficient printing process of waterless can ultimately lead to cost savings for the publisher.
What is this process that has sparked such interest? Waterless printing is offset printing without fountain solution, rendering the age-old lithographic principles of oil and water irrelevant. It requires a silicone-rubber-coated plate, special ink and a means of temperature control on press.
The plate surface is intaglio, which means that it has recessed image areas and can reproduce extremely high screen rulings of 275- to 600-line screens, although the standard for waterless printers is a 300-line screen. These plate characteristics yield higher ink densities and a broader color spectrum than conventional printing processes.
Any print job requiring a high degree of reproduction accuracy and detail will benefit from printing waterless.
Nothing but the best
Easton, MD-based Cadmus Journal Services, a division of Cadmus Communications, has been printing waterless for more than two years now, on two six-unit, full-size, double-web Hantscho Mark XVIs and a two-unit, 38˝ sheetfed press. According to Senior Vice President Richard Samuels, Cadmus invested in waterless because "it's the best image reproduction method available."