Featured on Howard Direct

Featured on Howard Direct


By:  Nick Howard  |  Date: January 2010  |  Contact the Author
More and more we are asked about 4 over 4 technology. The pre-owned marketplace reflects this growing trend. I talk to printers who have this technology and the comments are somewhat varied. That is to say that there is no definitive answer to my prodding. Certain plants experience very little problems while others complain of disappointment over the technology.

Perfecting has been around for almost half of a century, and was initially achieved by means of blanket-to-blanket. Then, in 1962, Miller Printing Machinery designed and built the world’s first “convertible” perfector – the TPJ. The TPJ was to be the basis of perfecting and remains today as part of any transfer system using double grippers. This can be seen on the Roland 300, Roland 700 and KBA 105.

Adast, the Czech company, first developed the “pincer gripper” method. Heidelberg seized the technique and started mass production on the Speedmaster 72 in 1975. This system of using one master gripper is used not only on all Heidelberg perfecting presses but also on Shinohara, Sakurai and Hashimoto.

What are the issues with perfecting? Most notable is marking. Heidelberg, KBA, Shinohara and Sakurai as well as Roland 300 all use double size transfers and single size perfecting cylinders. This means a sheet is exposed to a rather small cylinder and must be protected from off-setting. To make the best of this design, special jackets on subsequent transfer cylinders need to be considered.

Roland and Komori with the new Lithrone S40P Perfector, have redesigned the mechanics allowing for all cylinders to be double diameter. This design, patterned after the originators Planeta, allows for less wrap-around and in the case of the perfector itself, less marking.

Komori Lithrone S840P+C with 4 over 4 convertible perfector and tower coater

Marking from impression cylinders is all but eliminated now thanks to the Japanese and their development of specially coated ceremic jackets. Virtually, all manufacturers now buy or license this technology from Japan and market it under various trade names.

The delivery is another source for marking and this, too, has been under constant development. Creating an air curtain prevents the sheet from touching the pans in the upsweep. Again, almost all manufacturers have improved on this area and there will continue to be vast improvements to come.

Komori’s Super Perfector brings on a technology that will eventually take over the 4 over 4 market. It is a unique design that has no transfer cylinders, and is designed for only one purpose – perfecting. Certainly something to consider. Both Komori and Roland offer double cylinder construction, and in the case of Komori, it has taken the technique to a higher plane.

In the used market, the perfecting presses available are predominately from Heidelberg with a few offerings from Roland and others. However, as we have just discussed, you should be aware of the shortcomings of this early equipment and do your homework before considering used. It may well be possible that given the type of work you wish to run you could be very happy or very disappointed.

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