The press conference was followed by the pre-drupa Open house, which saw around 1,500 industry professionals from all over the world taking the opportunity to attend live demonstrations of new features and upgrades in formats ranging from half-size to large.
These include a raft of innovations for enhancing productivity, quality, finishing, cost efficiency and press ecology. While KBA did not reveal everything that will be exhibited on its 3,400sqm stand in hall 16, what it did show was well worth the journey.
KBA is the world's sole supplier of large-format perfector presses, most but not all of which are used to print books. At drupa it will clock up a first by demonstrating eight-colour perfecting on a size 6 press, a Rapida 142. The aim is to demonstrate the productivity gains possible in commercial as well as in book printing through switching to large format.
KBA is the acknowledge market and technology leader in large format press engineering, particularly for packaging printing. At the open house it reaffirmed this claim by printing aluminium-coated cardboard packaging for a brand of spirits on a six-colour Rapida 162 size 7 (63in) UV coater press with extended delivery. An application of opaque white was followed by process and metallic-effect spot colours. The press was then converted to print packaging for hair colour products, a task that is equally challenging. The production run was monitored by an entire range of quality control modules. During makeready the proof was scanned by DensiTronic PDF, compared with the original PDF and approved in just ten minutes. Without DensiTronic PDF this would have taken half an hour.
The Rapida 162 concluded by demonstrating the efficiency of the KBA PileTronic automated pile logistics system at a production speed of 14,000 sheets per hour. New features in this system include PileTronic Ident, a read/write system that identifies the pallet, and the number of sheets on it, by scanning RFID tags that are either embedded or attached. The system can be used to record material consumption and pallet location. Each time the delivery pile is changed, PileTronic PDF writes the number of printed sheets on the RFID tag.
The print length of the perfector version of the Rapida 162a has now been extended to 1,170mm, which means that the full sheet format can now be used in perfecting mode. Printers of quality packaging will be interested to hear that register accuracy, perfecting and sheet guidance have been improved, there is a new, lower delivery pile and the print-free corridors have been reduced.
Under the banner "Strong on quality - fast, simple, reliable", the press event opened in a recently completed production hall with the unveiling of the new Rapida 75 and an upgraded Rapida 105 as the "best value in their class".
The Rapida 75 supersedes the Rapida 74 and Performa 74, the Rapida 105 is the latest generation of the globally popular Rapida 105 universal press. Both models have been given a new, individual design and target the large number of printers who are looking for production flexibility, performance and intelligent automation at a price that will not break their limited budgets.
Re-engineered for a slightly large sheet size (520 x 750mm), KBA's new 15,000sph Rapida 75 is configurable with two to eight colours plus coater and perfector, and incorporates some 30 new features. Label and packaging printers will be glad to learn that there is a special 605 x 750mm version, which was also demonstrated. Many of the proven features that have made the bigger format presses popular have now been incorporated in the Rapida 75. These include pneumatic suction sidelays, an open inking unit design, gripper systems and KBA DensiTronic density measurement and control from the console. The five-colour coater press with extended delivery demonstrated a high-speed job change from luxury spirits packaging on lightweight board to a brochure on 150gsm paper.
KBA has also revamped its standard B1 press, the Rapida 105 universal. Reverting to its original name, the Rapida 105, the upgraded model has a maximum output of 15,000sph (16,500sph with HS package) and is available with up to seven printing units plus coating, UV and hybrid printing options. Alongside reliability, quality, productivity and value for money, the 105 focuses on versatility - it can print commercials, books, labels and cartons - and to this end the plate format in now adjustable for compatibility with other B1 presses.
Automated features include a shaftless DriveTronic feeder, plate changing (automatic or semi-automatic) and washing. For greater convenience press controls are now based on a Windows operating system, ensuring that updates will be available in the long term. Video-based automatic colour register control and a choice of DensiTronic or DensiTronic Professional closed-loop densitometry systems help minimise waste, makeready times and quality deviations. The Rapida 105 at the open house demonstrated its capabilities by printing packaging and postcards.
In the medium format, KBA's leading exhibit at drupa will be the Rapida 106, which evolved from the 105 model launched at the last drupa. Here, the focus is on output (18,000sph), fast makeready and the higher productivity afforded by a larger sheet size of 740 x 1,060mm. The choice of automation options is also bigger: KBA DriveTronic dedicated drives, and the benefits they bring in terms of changeover times, operation, maintenance and waste, have redefined the international benchmark in this format, while the DriveTronic feeder, with its manifold presetting options, can now handle even lighter stock at higher speeds. Four years on, KBA is still the only press manufacturer to offer a no-sidelay infeed, DriveTronic SIS, that eliminates all manual intervention during changes of stock and ensures a much smoother sheet travel than mechanical or pneumatic systems. DriveTronic SIS now features in over 60% of all high-performance Rapidas.
With print runs steadily diminishing, the DriveTronic SPC dedicated plate-cylinder drive system introduced in the Rapida 105 in September 2007 is a key module. This supports simultaneous plate changing in less than 60 seconds, regardless of the number of printing units. Because the makeready work and washing can also be carried out simultaneously, it dramatically shortens changeover times, too. This was demonstrated on a Rapida 106 eight-colour perfector during production of some challenging commercials. Three print jobs of 500 sheets apiece, entailing 24 plate changes, were completed in less than 16 minutes. The Rapida 106 can thus lay claim to being the true world makeready champion in its format. To date, DriveTronic SPC drives have been specified for over 40 B1 Rapidas, or more than 300 printing units.
A further innovation associated with DriveTronic SPC is DriveTronic Ident, which reads registration marks imaged in the gripper margin on the plates and uses them to set a theoretical zero register on all the plate cylinders. As a result registration is precise right from the first proof. What is more, DriveTronic Plate Ident identifies the colour separations on the plates in each printing unit by scanning a data matrix code that is also imaged in the gripper margin. This eliminates all risk of confusion and thus unnecessary waste.
As a pioneer of anilox inking KBA will be underscoring its commitment to greener production processes with four keyless, waterless presses: a Genius 52 UV, a Rapida 74 Gravuflow, a 74 Karat DI (all sheetfed) and a Cortina (web), while its eco-accredited conventional Rapidas will demonstrate low-alcohol or alcohol-free operation. KBA has also entered alliances with environmental specialists such as ClimatePartner.
While the limited erection period of just three weeks means there will be no live demos of web presses on the KBA stand, web printers will still find plenty to interest them. No doubt the biggest - or smallest -attraction will be four-high towers of KBA's revolutionary compact presses, the waterless Cortina 6/2 and its conventional counterpart, the Commander CT. Orders for these two presses include a multi-unit triple-wide Cortina press line for Le Figaro in Paris and a fifteen-tower Commander CT for the New York Daily News. Dubbed KBA Competence, this new compact platform offers many features, among them PlateTronic automatic plate changers, NipTronic cylinder bearings for the remote adjustment of impression pressure, RollerTronic automated roller locks, Plate-Ident plate identification and FanoTronic automatic fan-out compensation. The benefits these (and an ultra-compact press design) deliver in terms of operation, maintenance, production flexibility, cost efficiency and ecology will be demonstrated during the show via an interface. A control console with a direct link to new press lines at various users will give commercial printers a chance to come up to speed with advances in their field.
The open house gave an authentic foretaste of KBA's appearance at Drupa in Düsseldorf. The event closed with a social evening at the Panometer in Dresden, a gasometer dating back to 1880 and now an historic industrial monument. Measuring 100 metres (330ft) in diameter and 26m (85ft) high, the Panometer has a panorama of Dresden as it was in 1756 painted on the inner skin.