J Thomson wins Koenig and Bauer 1814 award

Koenig and Bauer has handed this year’s 1814 Production Excellence award to J Thomson Colour Printers Ltd, a commercial printer based in Glasgow that switched from Heidelberg to Koenig and Bauer when it ordered two 18000 sph Rapida 106 presses at last year’s Drupa.

From left, Iain Jackson, print manager, and Kevin Creechan, managing director, of J Thomson Colour Printers.

These included a six colour Rapida 106 plus coater complete with LED UV curing, which was the first such press to be installed in the UK. It has fully automatic plate changing (FAPC), meaning that plate changing is complete on all six units within 2.8 minutes.

The second press is a 10 colour Rapida 106 with 5/5 perfector and conventional inks, currently supplied by Flint. It’s set up with KBA simultaneous plate changing (S.P.C.) which allows all plates to be mounted within 50 seconds whilst blankets and impression cylinders are being washed.

Both presses have been configured with KBA’s automation packages. This includes the QualiTronic Professional inline colour control and inspection system that adjusts colour after every 10th sheet and can tag sheets that deviate from a reference sheet. They also have the ErgoTronic ColorControl console which acts as the colour library and link to the QualiTronic Professional inline system and measures density and C.I.E. LAB values. Kevin Creechan, managing director of J Thomson, says: “I think it’s the quick plate changing that’s the main benefit. We change plates in 10 seconds which would have taken us 10 minutes previously. So for multiple section work we are smashing previous times.”

J Thomson has built up a solid reputation for high quality work, taking on a wide range of general commercial work such as brochures, magazines and fine art posters. The company was set up in 1953 and today employs 125 staff, reporting a £12.5 million turnover last year.

Between them, the two presses handle a wide range of work. Ian Jackson, J Thomson’s print manager, explains: “We think of the ten-colour as a section machine and print sections for catalogs and things like that. The six-colour is more of a jobbing machine, especially because of the LED which can print any stock.” Creechan adds: “The image on uncoated papers is far superior because it sits on top of the paper so it dries instantly and that works better for us.” Jackson explains further: “The LED shows very little dot gain because the ink dries almost instantly. You can throw the density through the roof.”

However, the LED inks are more expensive. Creechan says: “We don’t have it on the ten-colour because the price of ink is more expensive and we produce a lot of standard stuff like timetables and prospectuses and we don’t need to spend that kind of money on that ink.”

But Creechan says that once you’ve used LED curing then you won’t go back. He adds: “We can take a job in the morning and finish it in the afternoon because of the LED so that is the reason that we wanted to go down that route.”

Jackson explains: “We wanted to change the business and one of the ways that we did that was the LED. But the other thing that really shone through was the technology that we could use, the SIS and the ability to de-clutch a unit and the colour control, which means that it’s one less thing for the minder to worry about. So we got a technology leap from KBA with things like the SIS.” He adds: “We feel that it’s quicker to get up to colour because it measures every sheet.”

From left, Chris Sculley, sales director for Koenig & Bauer UK, Iain Jackson, print manager, and Kevin Creechan, managing director, both of J Thomson Colour Printers.

Each year KBA recognises one of its customers, making the award for particular jobs that show a dramatic improvement in production performance. This year these jobs included 500 copies of a 464pp Edinburgh Arts Catalogue, printed in four colours with sealer on 150 gsm Silk material SRA 1 and matched to Epson proofs. J Thomson had printed this catalogue the previous year, using a Heidelberg 105 but saved four hours with the 10-colour Rapida. A second job, printed on the six-colour LED press, was for 67 Versions of fine Art Posters for Steven Brown Art. This involved the largest number of workings ever produced at J Thomson with the job being printed 50 percent faster than its estimate.

The 1814 award references the first ever power-driven press. It was built by Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer and installed at the Times of London in November 1814. This was a steam-driven double-cylinder press with an hourly output of 1,100 printed sheets, somewhat faster than the hand presses of the day. Following this success the two men went into business together, setting up Koenig and Bauer in 1817.




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