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Floors, Pads and Pits

Heidelberg PressPrinters that are purchasing a machine often have a great deal of anxiety over their floors. Will the floor handle the weight of the machine, should a pad be put in, should I put a pit underneath the machine are all large questions that cause a great deal of stress.

The best, safest thing to do is hire a structural engineer who can take bore samples of the floor and determine its present condition and how much weight it can handle. With that in mind here are some general thoughts to consider when wrestling with this issue.

If the machine is a 26” or 28” press the issue will most likely be more related to how even the floor is as opposed to the weight capacity. If the floor slants greater than 4” from feeder to delivery something will have to be done. Not only will you struggle to keep the press level but also invariably the delivery plate will not rest on the floor evenly causing all kinds of trouble. If the floor is level, and the engineer determines it can handle the weight, put the press down and save your money.

If the floor is level, but is borderline on handling the weight, ask the engineer how placing the machine on steel I beams will impact the situation. This is a common technique, especially in cities such as New York where many large machines are installed above the ground floor. The beams will spread the weight more evenly. An added bonus is that this will increase the feeder and delivery capacity. The machine will have to have some slight modifications made for this. The feeder and delivery chains will have to lengthened as well as all of the catwalk legs.

If the floor is not sufficiently level you will have to dig up a large enough area and pour a concrete “pad”. This pad will only have to be as wide as the machine itself, and long enough to do one of two things. If your floor is not really bad it can stop prior to the delivery and feeder plates. In essence it is underneath the press and you won’t see it. The idea here is that when the pallets of paper are being put in or removed; you will not hit the seam of the new floor. If your floor is really bad, you will need to make the pad larger so that the plates rest completely on the new floor. You must not allow the feeder and especially the delivery plate to operate on an uneven surface.

Many printers wonder about the advantages of having a pit underneath the press. A pit is not necessary but is nice for maintenance and mechanical repairs. In addition, the pit assists in cleaning the back cylinders. If you do not need to do anything to your floor a pit is not worth the expense. It is possible a case might be made for a large 40” machine such as an L640 with coater. However, for ½ size presses the expense of the pit alone is not worth it. If you are faced with putting in a pad it is a good idea while you are getting quotes from the construction company to also get one for a pit. The added expense of the pit should not be greater than the cost of the pad.

  • Find out the weight of the machine and determine if your floor will handle it
  • If your floor will not handle the weight, you could consider I beams
  • If your floor cannot handle the weight, you could consider digging it up and pouring a pad
  • If you have to go to the trouble of pouring a pad, you may want to consider a little added expense and get a pit
  • If your floor slants more than 4” from feeder to delivery, you will need to dig the floor up and poor a pad.

Man-Roland Press

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