Screen Printing Visits KDM
A plant tour of a Cincinnati-based printing operation
On a cold winter’s day last February, Screen Printing editors stopped by the headquarters of KDM P.O.P Solutions Group in Cincinnati, OH, to get a behind-the-scenes look at their large printing operation.
KDM began this family-owned operation 40 years ago in a neighborhood with cheap rents, using gently used equipment, and lots of determination on my parent’s part,” said Tom Kissel, manager of purchasing as he began the tour of the 175,000 sq ft print production and fulfillment plant.
On the wall beside us, a room-sized mural saluted the company’s dedication to doing business in Cincinnati from 1970 to present (Figure 1). Dan Kimmerly, production manager, talked about the variety of printing presses on site.
“We just finished a head-to-head testing of a new printer, which we will purchase shortly,” he mentioned.
“Which machines did you test and who won out?” we asked.
“I forgot, just now,” he said as he smiled brightly. “But you can come back and check it out. We encourage plant tours.”
We walked past the Planeta 6-color with UV coating large-format offset press (Figure 2). As we continued on, we noticed large graphic prints coming off HP Scitex FB7500 printers used for digital commercial and large-format prints (Figures 3, 4).
“Here’s an early Scitex,” Kimmerly said as he lifted the printer’s lid (Figure 5). They didn’t use the older version as much as the newer ones.
Later on the tour we passed a separate room where an employee operated a Kongsberg i-XL24 Esko digital cutting table (Figure 6). Samples of past cuts decorated the wall colorfully.
KDM serves some of the largest US retail chains, consumer product companies, and advertising agencies from their mid-America location. They address wide variations for P-O-P products and services required by retail clients in the grocery, petroleum, convenience store, home improvement department/discount/specialty store and quick-serve/fast food categories.
We saw commercial-grade sewing machines sewing a hem in a really long banner, and grommets being stamped into another banner top.
In the middle of a row a large box showed signs of assembly. This is called “kitting” Maureen Gumbert, sales representative explained. The box contained all of the elements needed to build an on-the-floor display (rods, connectors, signs, stands, and instructions) to be used at the end of a grocery store aisle.
Next to walls stood both rolled and stacked (Figure 7) substrate stock, labeled by type and thickness. The shelves were made of metal racks with ample room between each type.
In one area, a production staff member stood on steps while directing flat stacks of substrates into a screen printing M&R Inline Processor (Figure 8). In each step, a squeegee scraped one color of ink across the mesh and onto the substrate (Figure 9).
After use, the mesh stretched across each frame was carried down to a cleaning area (Figure 11). Operators cleaned the large screen flats in a specially built cleaning unit to take out both design and excess ink. At the end of the line, staff stood screens up with plenty of space between them (Figure 12) and a large fan circulated the room’s air to dry each screen in preparation for reuse.
KDM is impressive for lots of reasons, but the variety of projects and breadth of skills evident at KDM amazed us all. The smallest object printed measured was a plastic business card and the largest that KDM could print would be a 10 ft by 100 ft banner. In the area of screen printing, though they typically print 33, 45, or 63 lines/in. mesh lines, they would match the size to the project. For offset, they commonly printed 133 or 150 lines/in.
If a customer needed a special proof, KDM would match that requirement with a matchprint, a digital printout, a color laser print or upload a PDF to a particular website. The desire and methods used to fulfill customer expectations impressed us all.