Goss marks 20 years leading press automation technology

Twenty years after Goss Autoplate technology was brought to market, Goss International is honouring a key milestone in the history of offset printing. Introducing reductions in makeready time, labour and expense, the Autoplate innovation has extended the web offset advantage and created opportunities across a wide range of sectors and applications. Goss Autoplate automatic plate-changing was first introduced on the M-600 press in 1995, offering the ability to plate up an entire press in less than three minutes due to a simple, precision-engineered sequence. Plates were placed into cassettes on the printing units while the press was running or idle; then, at the push of a button old plates were automatically rotated off the cylinders and replaced by the new ones. All or any combination of plates could be changed in this way. According to Goss product manager, Jean-Pierre, Moioli, despite initial skepticism, live demonstrations at trade shows and open houses, together with field experience, rapidly established Autoplate technology as the flag-bearer for web press automation. ‘The beauty of the system was – and is – the simplicity of its operation made possible through precision engineering, without requiring extra cleaning or maintenance,’ explained Moioli. ‘With the realization that the shorter the run, the greater the benefit, came a freedom to explore run lengths beyond those traditionally associated with web offset and even to compete with sheetfed.’ Today, more than 2100 Goss Autoplate units are in operation on a range of commercial and newspaper presses worldwide, including M-600, Sunday 2000, 4000 and 5000, and Colorliner CPS press systems. In addition, its development has directly influenced a range of additional Goss innovations in industrialised print production. These include: •The ‘96-page’ web offset press, creating new economies for very high-volume commercial printing and directly challenging the lower-volume gravure industry; •Non-stop edition change (NSEC) which ensures further time, energy and waste savings in makeready particularly for high-volume versioning; •Automatic Transfer (AT) printing for on-the-run edition changes, eliminating conventional makeready requirements in some applications. ‘Our M-600 experience made the wider press format possible with the same design, creating more opportunities for printers – and the larger the plate, the greater the benefits,’ commented Moioli. ‘One of the main goals achieved is reliability, proven by field experience with close to 100 percent plate change success. In the case of Automatic Transfer we have customers running 48-page format press lines that are changing more than 700 plates a day!’ Most recently, as the single, most significant enabling technology of the Magnum Compact press, Goss Autoplate knowhow has led to a new era for newspaper printers and publishers. In reducing makeready time by as much as 90 percent, the Magnum Compact press lowers the break-even point of economical newspaper production. Combined with additional features such as consistent high quality, wide substrate flexibility, heatset options, and a versioning tool, this development provides the means to reach into new markets particularly for those that currently produce small- to medium-circulation publications. ‘Through our decades of experience with Autoplate technology, we were able to develop a simple, cost-effective system entirely unique to this sector. In providing the ability to change plates in 30 seconds and to complete a full job changeover in less than five minutes, printers can fill the press with work even in the shortest production window,’ commented Eric Bell, director of Goss marketing. ‘The breakthrough with the Magnum Compact press is a perfect example of the legacy of Autoplate technology in general,’ concluded Bell. ‘I can’t honestly claim that our product designers, back in 1995, could foresee the level of competition that we know today but, bit by bit, as margins have become tighter and harder-won right across the board, the crucial advantages of Autoplate have been unlocking new potential.’