At the beginning of September, Walsh Colour Print in Castleisland, Co. Kerry, Ireland became one of the first graphic arts company worldwide to commission the new Alegro perfect binder from Muller Martini.
The innovative family business is now optimally equipped for the finishing of offset and digitally printed products.
Tony Walsh, who founded and owns Walsh Colour Print together with his wife Pat, does not hesitate for a second when asked why Ireland's leading offset printing house, which has been in business since 1991, spontaneously decided to invest in the Alegro perfect binder, which was unveiled in May at the Muller Martini stand at the drupa and answers: "Short setup times and high quality of end products". High quality is of particular importance to Walsh Colour Print, which employs 102 people, because the innovative business entered the Irish school textbook market as a newcomer three years ago with the label educate.ie. Tony Walsh set himself three aims:
➢ "To produce high quality school textbooks at prices parents can afford."
➢ "To help teachers meet the challenges of today's classrooms."
➢ "To create jobs in Ireland."
Success Comes Quickly
By way of explanation: first, in Ireland parents have to pay for the their children's school textbooks, which Tony Walsh considers highly overpriced, second, each school can decide which publishing house to order textbooks from, and, third, many Irish school textbooks are imported. Tony and Pat Walsh have contracted not only 25 authors, but also ten sales representatives to convince schools of the high quality of their products in terms of both content and print finishing.
Success has come quickly. Walsh Colour Print sold 250,000 school textbooks published in-house last year, with the number set to rise to half a million this year and 750,000 in 2013. "We're more than satisfied with that progress," says Tony Walsh.
Short setup times, the second key reason for investing in the new Alegro, are important because Walsh Colour Print produces the majority of jobs for other publishers and performs print finishing for other printing houses across Ireland, typically in A4, A5 and B5 formats. "We've observed that print runs have fallen significantly in some cases," says the company owner. Moreover, Walsh Colour Print entered the digital printing business four years ago and currently operates two HP Indigo 5500 machines. Since then the family business has regularly delivered books with a print run of just one copy.
Walsh Colour Print therefore required a solution for the finishing of sheet-fed offset and digitally printed products as a successor to its aging Monostar perfect binder from Muller Martini. "We also need a high-performance system because we often print several tens of thousands of copies per title in offset printing," says Tony Walsh. "The Alegro meets all our requirements for both long runs and short runs."
In addition, as Tony Walsh explains, Muller Martini provides an optimal after-sales service through its local agency Central Press Services, also for the Monostar and the printing house's three saddle stitchers from Muller Martini (two Primas, one 335).
Just four months after signing the purchase contract at Muller Martini's drupa stand, Walsh Colour Print, located at Europe's westernmost tip, began production with the new Alegro featuring an 18-station gathering machine, PUR binding, splitting saw for two-up production, a Merit three-knife trimmer, a CB 18 book stacker and a film wrapping unit. The three machine operators familiarized themselves with the new system during the first two weeks of production with help from Muller Martini technicians. "The on-the-job training was absolutely perfect," says Tony Walsh. "Our operators got to know the Alegro under production conditions right from the start. None of them would like to go back to the old machine."