(The following information was taked from Printer's Ink Volume 11 Issue 2 Summer 1995)
The Variquik prints from a roll (a la Web presses) but it does it just a bit faster than a sheet fed press (slower than a traditional Web press). For this decrease from traditional Web speed you raise the quality level up to that of a sheet fed press.
So... the Variquik is a bit better than a sheet fed press in speed and significantly better than a Web press in quality... but the changes aren't done yet.
The Variquik utilizes six impression (printing) cylinders. It is a perfector press so it prints both sides of the sheet at the same time, the same as a traditional sheet fed or Web press but this only requires two impression cylinders. To print a 6 x 9 or 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" book on the Variquik we will have available four impression cylinders. Since only two cylinders are used when you are printing a single signature there are two idle cylinders that can be made ready while the other two are printing... thus the press does not sit idle while you hang the next two plates. The Variquik is sold based on a claim of "zero plate make-ready" and while it's not really "zero", it will cut down plate hanging time by about 70%. In our scenario, if it takes 12 minutes to make the 2 plates ready on a regular press and then 13 minutes to print 1500 copies of a signature, you have spent 25 minutes of press time to print that signature. By comparison, on the Variquik press you will spend 4 minutes making your plates ready to print and will print the 1500 signatures in about 11 minutes for a total of 15 minutes, or an overall press time savings of about 40%.
In addition... for the Variquik you buy paper in rolls (Web presses and the Variquik use rolls) and this is about 10% cheaper than buying paper in sheets. The Variquik press also produces printed and folded signatures whereas a sheet fed press will not fold the sheet so folding is an additional operation.
The next, but not the last, advantage is that the two remaining printing cylinders on the Variquik (we only need 4 of the 6 cylinders to produce "zero makeready" printing for 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" or 6 x 9") are sized to accommodate 7 x 10". These 2 cylinders will not allow us to use the zero makeready feature for 7 x 10 since that requires 4 cylinders but it does allow us to print 7 x 10" on the same fast press as 6 x 9" whereas we now print 7 x 10" on a much larger and slower press than we use for 6 x 9". So, our 7 x 10" capacity and speed will both be increased.
The last advantage is also one of the most significant. This is that a book will be printed and folded in one day... and in the same plant... whereas now those two operations require 4 working days. Thus, production time will be shorter and customers will be happier.
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