Harlow Printing invests in RMGT 920 SRA1 press

Harlow Printing, a commercial printer based in South Shields in the north of England, has installed a four-colour RMGT 920 offset litho press complete with LED-UV curing. 

Richard Walker, managing director of Harlow Printing, with the new RMGT 920 press.

Harlow Printing was set up in 1947 and has grown from a local print shop to operating two production sites, one for colour printing complete with distribution centre, plus a direct mail logistics plant. The company can handle design, print, finishing, direct mail and distribution and has also diversified into print management, fulfilment, healthcare products, software and web design. It counts a number of NHS Trusts amongst its customers, and last year won a place on the Crown Commercial Services framework.

RMGT was set up in 2014 when Ryobi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Printing and Packaging came together. It offers a number of offset presses in different sizes, including the 920, an A1-sized press that takes a maximum sheet size of 640 x 920mm. This is an interesting format, capable of 8-up printing of A4 and letter size but with lower printing plate costs, power consumption, and space requirements than a B1-size press. It comes in two versions, one of which has a convertible perfecto and runs at 13,000sph, and the straight press that Harlow Printing has, which runs at 16,200 sph. There’s also a slightly wider model with a 940mm print width.

Richard Walker, managing director of Harlow Printing, explains: “I’d been tracking the development of the RMGT SRA1-format press for some years. We could certainly see a lot of benefits in moving up to a larger sheet size than B2, but the leap to B1-format could be too big for us. An SRA1-format press, however, with a B2-sized footprint, certainly made a lot of sense for us. The potential of eight-up printing, without the B1-format overheads.”

Walker was able to visit the RMGT factory in Japan in 2020 to see the presses being built. He commented: “We were especially taken with the potential for the LED-UV curing element of the press and its capabilities. Dry-to-the-touch sheets coming off the press would mean that they were available for immediate back-up, or swift delivery to the finishing department. All of that would mean shorter turnaround times for the customer and a more efficient production system for us – some of the advantages that we were already able to offer with short-run digital work.”

Walker says that this benefited a particular job the company printed just before Christmas: “It had heavy solids throughout. It could’ve been very hard to produce that job in time with the older litho equipment. The solids would never have been dry enough for backing up – even if we’d left it until the following day. That type of work could also have presented problems in finishing too, with marking, set-off and scuffing. The LED-UV certainly showed its capabilities in that particular job. It was produced without any problem at all and delivered to the customer on time.”

The machine includes RMGT’s Smart FPC simultaneous plate change with simultaneous blanket wash, ink pre-setting and pre-damping settings running automatically. It also has inline density control and a dual LED-UV drying system in an extended delivery. 

The press was installed at the end of 2021, with Walker noting: “Whilst we have only been printing for a few weeks since the installation, and our operators are still getting used to the differences on the press compared to the previous machine, our team are certainly beginning to see the benefits of many of the machines outstanding capabilities. The automated plate loading, the swift make-ready, getting into saleable sheets and accurate colour quickly, and, of course, the LED-UV curing, are already making a difference to us.”

He adds: “One cost-saving immediately apparent is the low number of sheets needed to get to good copy. The fast and accurate make-ready on the RMGT press means very few waste sheets – and that mounts up over the course of a year. The automatic plate loading helps to reduce job change-over times still further.”

Harlow Printing already operates two mini webs, two B2-format litho presses, and several SRA3 machines, along with digital equipment from Xerox and Ricoh. The company also invested in a new platesetter from Agfa to image the larger plates. 

You can find more information on Harlow Printing here and on the press from RMGT.

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