Me & my... Fujifilm Brillia HD Pro-T3 plate
By Jon Severs Thursday, 04 October 2012
Severnprint's 20-year mission to be environmentally friendly has led to the purchase of this processless plate, which it's using alcohol-free
There was a time, believe it or not, when printers did not really ‘do’ the environment. As Severnprint sales director David Pealing remembers: "It was seen as all a bit open-toe sandals".
This was back in 1990, when Severnprint was putting together its first environmental policy, an activity rarer than a Margaret Thatcher supporter at the time. It began a journey that 20 years later would see the company adopt cutting-edge environmental plate technology, the Fujifilm Brillia HD Pro-T3.
Since those early days at the very beginnings of print’s environmental awakening, the Gloucester-based digital and litho printer, which was established in 1977 and remains a family business run by original owner Ken Pealing’s three sons, has pushed on with its eco agenda, adopting new innovations as and when they came to the fore.
"Back in 1990, environmental printing meant printing on recycled paper for most people, but we realised that was not enough," says David Pealing. "Over the years, we have moved into sorting our waste streams, educating local businesses, recycling and really taking an active role to make an example of ourselves. We have also been on various waste-reduction training days with the Environment Agency and we get all of our electricity from Ecotricity, which produces electricity via windpower."
All this good work culminated in 2007, when Severnprint became the beta site for Fujifilm’s new Brillia HD Pro-T plates. These processless plates meant that the company could reduce its use of chemistry and water – two big environmental impacts of standard litho print. The company was instantly taken with the new plates, not least because they enabled it to continue printing during the flooding that affected much of Gloucestershire in 2007, and which cut off water supply to the factory and rendered its existing plate processor unable to operate.
"Thank goodness they worked okay, as otherwise we couldn’t have continued operating as a business," says Pealing.
The company then progressed to the Pro-T2 plate, but found this new iteration did not quite meet their expectations. Pealing says they were not as robust as the Pro-T, scratching too easily. Fujifilm says it was thankful for the honest feedback.
"We invest heavily in continually improving our plates based on customer feedback. We are proud to have the most successful and longest-established processless plates on the market," says Fujifilm UK product manager offset solutions Sean Lane. "We were happy to support Severnprint and we are delighted that they find Pro-T3 much easier to work with on press."
Indeed, it was with some relief to both that when the firm adopted the Brillia HD Pro-T3 plate 18 months ago, it encountered none of the issues of the Pro-T2. It was a very polished and reliable product.
The Brillia HD Pro-T3 is mounted directly on the press, where the removal of the plate coating is integrated into the start-up of the press. There is complete elimination of the processor, its associated chemistry, energy required to power the processor and water and waste from plate production. Hence, Fujifilm hails it as a real boost to environmental credentials.
The T3 features a number of improvements on previous iterations, which are designed to optimise performance. The first is a special new Multigrain V (MGV) technology, a new micro-graining process applied to the surface of the aluminium to guarantee the widest possible latitude in terms of ink/water balance on press. The second is a multilayer coating that provides different functionalities within ultra-thin layers. These include an over-coat layer that controls the diffusion of oxygen, along with a photosensitive layer that contributes to the plate’s high sensitivity and productivity. In terms of quality, it has a specification of 1%-99% resolution and can reproduce 20µm FM screening.
Changing to the new plate was no hassle, says Pealing; it was just a matter of switching supply. More complicated was using the plate as Severnprint wanted to go to completely alcohol-free printing.
"Since the 1990s, we have tried to reduce the amount of alcohol we use on press, down to just a few per cent when we brought the Fuji Pro-T plates on board. We have gone completely alcohol-free with this plate," says Pealing. "Alcohol evaporates at a very low temperature, so you are replenishing it all the time. Most printers use several tonnes of the stuff per year, which is very damaging to the environment. On a hot day, when you see that smoggy haze, a lot of that is low-level pollution. The alcohol from presses is a contributor to that."
The Pro-T3 was actually the final piece of jigsaw that enabled the firm to go completely alcohol-free. When the new plates arrived, the company was trained extensively in how to use them. They were coping so well with low-alcohol that Fujifilm’s technical specialist advised that alcohol-free would be possible.
"Fujifilm employs a technical specialist and we had a regular dialogue with him," explains Pealing. "He came across and he helped a lot. Running alcohol-free means we have to be very careful with the acidity levels and with the fount solution chemistry and also with the cleanliness of the presses. The plates were working very well in a low-alcohol environment and so he said we would be fine to try and go fully alcohol-free. It’s an upheaval to go alcohol-free, but it is something we believe in."
Since switching to the Pro-T3, Pealing says there have been no issues with the plate itself. The only problems occur when Severnprint gets the on-press chemistry slightly wrong – when that happens, he says, the Fujifilm technical specialist is always at the end of the phone.
The plates run across the company’s press line up of Heidelberg and Komori kit. Pealing reports that he has been impressed with both the quality and the durability of the plates.
"We are doing high-end print, so we have to rely on our plates and they are more than up to it. The quality we get off them is superb," he explains. "And they are durable – we will comfortably get 50,000 sheets through the press without any loss of image quality over the run."
While the above factors are obviously crucial, Severnprint is most proud of the environmental impact the plate has had. Pealing argues that more printers should be embracing processless plates, explaining that though they may seem more expensive, the environmental benefits actually make them the much better option all around.
"I think more people do not go processless because of the price," he laments. "That is a short-sighted approach. You are saving so much money with the water reduction, the chemistry reduction and we are saving time as we no longer have to clean the processor out. We are also saving ourselves money in terms of not having to treat the waste chemicals from the processor. You also do not have to run the processor."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pealing deems the switch to Pro-T3 a success in enabling the firm to cut costs and cut environmental impact – and for also allowing the firm to make another step on its ever-ongoing mission to be print’s green trailblazer.
Laser type Thermal LD 830nm (800–850nm)
Technology Nonablative, processless
Resolution 200lpi (1%-99%)
FM screen compatible? Yes, FM20
Gauges 0.15, 0.20, 0.30mm
Run length Around 100,000
Price On application
Contact Fujifilm UK 01234 245245 www.graphics.fujifilm.co.uk
Severnprint was set up in 1977 by Ken Pealing. It is now run by his three sons: David as head of sales, Nigel as head of production and Simon is managing director. The company serves a mix of commercial print customers, concentrating at the higher quality side of the market. It runs both digital and litho kit and has maintained a strong environmental ethos since 1990 when print first began looking at its eco impact.
Why it was bought…
The company was pushing forwards in as many ways as possible to become more environmentally friendly. As a result, it became a beta site for the processless Brillia HD Pro-T plate in 2007 and progressed through the Pro-T2 to the Pro-T3. The latest incarnation of the plate enabled the company to go alcohol-free.
How has it performed…
David Pealing, sales director, says it has had a massive impact on the company, reducing both costs and environmental impact. Quality has remained high and durability and robustness has been extremely good. Printing alcohol-free does mean occasional issues with on-press chemistry, but Pealing says Fujifilm has always been on–hand to find a solution.
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