Web Offset Printer at Royal Joh. Enschedé
Rudy Hol works 21 at KJE, the last 14 years on the web offset press: a 10-colour press, which can handle flexo, double-sided perforating and slitting.
Craft and experience
Rudy stands next to the press that produces small pieces of art every day and decorate envelopes worldwide. “Actually, you should look at stamps with a magnifying glass. Only then do you see how intricate they are. Where most printers work with screen 80, at Royal Joh. Enschedé we work with grid 120. So where other printers have to stop, that’s where we start. We make really unique productions with lots of colors and grids.”
The true craft of his work is reflected in the complexity of the products and the machines involved. Additional machines can be connected to the 10-color press to perforate or slit (the small cuts in the stamp sheets with stickers) the stamp sheets in one run.
Precision work and rose scent
“Some stamps use all the possibilities the press has to offer,” says Rudy. “Using all 10 colors, slitting on two sides at the same time or perforating, that is real precision work. This is what makes us unique in the world. Even some state printers can’t do this.”
Especially in Europe stamps are sold as sticker sheets, in Asia the stamps are usually still gummed. For a good final product, Rudy has to fine-tune the balance between the ink, the moisture and the number of dots in the grid. The more dots, the harder it is to get it right.
With a press that can handle 10 colors, that’s no mean feat. If you have too little moisture somewhere, the dots get stuck together. This is what they call “dry run”. Here too, the experience and craftsmanship are apparent: Rudy can see with the naked eye if the plate on the press is too dry or not.
“I work with different inks. Thermo ink, for example, changes from blue to purple as the temperature rises. And stamps with phosphor glow under special lamps. Sometimes there is even scent incorporated in the ink. For example, we received an order for a whole series with different flowers, each with its own scent. I liked the one from the rose, but there was also one that was really not nice.”
Stamps with something extra
But not just colors, inks, perforations and stickers; Rudy has also printed on fabric. “You need to have enough tension on the paper to run it through the press at high speed,” he says. “But it works very differently with fabric. Not only to get it right on the press, but also because fabric absorbs more ink than paper.”
“I think the most beautiful are the stamps that have something extra. Like a “scratch off”. These are stamps where you can scratch off a layer under which another image will appear. Stamps with flexo, iriodin (a shiny layer, sometimes in 2 colors), or scented ink. Those you don’t see every day.”
When he gets up to get to work again, Rudy shares one side effect in his work that you do not expect so quickly. Rudy and his colleagues are extremely fit: sometimes they have to sprint from one end of the press to the other, lifting parts and ink buckets. That makes them fast and strong!