The top end of the web offset press market is rarefied territory for most label converters, specially when it involves a new type of plate/sleeve technology. Illochroma France is a large producer of cut-and-stack beverage labels based in Croix, in northeast France. It is the first company to install an LS-100 variable size press from RDP Marathon equipped with its SOLID (Sleeve Offset Lithographic Independent Drive) technology. The 38.5" wide press from the Montreal-based manufacturer has a repeat range of between 24" and 36" and includes a SmartSet computerized press control system.
Sleeves are mounted between hard metal mandrels to give a rigid press design. Inserts are interchangeable with other RDP inserts in the base print carrier, which can include flexo, conventional three-cylinder offset inserts and dry offset inserts. The LS presses use a single independent servo per insert to drive each plate and blanket cylinder assembly, so a seven-color press needs only seven servo motors. This method is claimed to offer considerable cost savings compared with comparable servo-driven presses.
The French offset facility is part of the Illochroma Labelling Group, which dates back to 1898 and is a major European supplier of glue applied labels, sleeves and wraps in paper, foil and film for the drinks industry. The group has seven manufacturing sites in six countries in Western and Central Europe. It has around a thousand employees and fields a total of 151 individual printing units on various gravure, flexo and offset presses. As mentioned in the May/June issue, it operates the IlloSpear joint venture with Spear of Mason, OH, to service the global beer industry.