Blackmore has signed a three-year inks and founts deal with Sun Chemical that applies across its coldest Solna, sheetfed Komori and sheetfed Koenig & Bauer Rapida 105 LED UV in its Shaftesbury factory and the Komori presses at its Lamport Gilbert plant in Reading.
The company has pioneered printing with LED UV in the UK with the installation of a four-unit Rapida 105 in 2015. At the time it worked closely with Flint to achieve a combination of ink and the new technology. Now it will do the same with Sun Chemical’s SunCure Starlite LED UV inks.
“Although Sun Chemical has been late to market with the LED UV inks, their location in Midsomer Norton is only an hour from our factory. We can work closely with them and be a big part of helping them develop the ink to suit our needs,” says production director Nigel Hunt.
Previously apart from Flint, the group used Druckfarben inks (now part of Flint) on the sheetfed press in Shaftesbury and Huber inks at Reading. Sun was inks supplier for the coldset machines which produce 60,000 copies weekly of Blackmore Vale and other newspaper style products.
“We can simplify the supply chain and gain buying power by dealing with just one supplier,” he adds.
While Sun Chemical has been successful with the SunCure Starlite LED UV product in mainland Europe, it has had little impact in the UK. Trials began in Shaftesbury in November and Hunt declares he was impressed with the way Sun’s chemists have worked to fine tune the formulations.
He says: “We’re keen to explore any new avenues that Sun Chemical can offer us and, in fact, are working on many with them at the moment. Sun Chemical keeps us fully in the picture with what’s happening and we work together on the changes, so we’re aware of what we’re looking for in the next version of the ink. We get no surprises, just transparency. We really have a true partnership with Sun Chemical.”
The relationship goes further for sales director David Bland. “If, for example, there are any impending bans on any chemicals or substances, they always seem to be at the forefront of complying with any required changes. We deal with a lot of high end customers and when we have to compile a tender or are asked for some legislation that the ink conforms to, I’ve always felt that Sun Chemical takes any request from us very seriously and we always get a positive, confident response from them that allows us to go confidently back to our customers,” he says.
The company has also been a test site for Kodak’s Sonora X plate. It has run the press across all three platforms at Shaftesbury comfortably achieving the needed run length on the coldest press and achieving 120,000 impressions on the LED machine before the jobs was finished.
The goal of going processless has been on the agenda to improve the company’s environmental footprint. “It was always a problem for coldset and now we have LED UV too so I thought we would never get to processless. The testing we have done so far has been very promising.
“I have always had concerns about scratching the surface of a processless plate with a layer of gum to protect it, but Sonora X has gone through the plate loader on the KBA without a problem. It has been quite impressive.”
Now he says, the plan is to move to a full month’s production using Sonora X. “It will be a big step forward if we can get rid of the processor,” he says.