“Waterless and keyless offset printing with the compact KBA Cortina press,
despite the many parallel innovations for conventional wet-offset newspaper
printing, will remain a core topic of development and marketing activities at
Koenig & Bauer AG”. This was just one of the central messages to emerge from
the first official get-together of the current Cortina users from Germany,
Belgium, Holland and Switzerland, which was held in Würzburg in
With this clear commitment, KBA pulled the rug from under the speculation and rumours of a possible withdrawal from the future-oriented waterless offset technology which had been spread in some areas of the market following the presentation of the compact conventional-offset Commander CT at the newspaper fair IfraExpo in October last year.
As practical evidence, the waterless pioneers of the newspaper branch attending the user meeting were treated to a production demonstration on a prototype printing unit for a triple-width Cortina 6/2, which has been tested with very good results over the past few weeks. Complementing the familiar double-width Cortina, which has in the meantime been ordered by nine European printing houses and is already in daily production at seven locations, KBA intends to offer the Cortina 6/2 with an identically high level of automation where a triple-width configuration is an interesting project option (e.g. 48, 72 or 96-page installations). It will no doubt prove the most sensible choice for certain production requirements and at the same time permits further savings in terms of investment outlay, space and power consumption. The first serious enquiries regarding the compact Cortina jumbo have already been received.
The elimination of fan-out effects when printing without dampening units on the KBA Cortina 6/2 does away similarly with the need for a 9-cylinder satellite configuration, as is today typical for conventional triple-width offset presses with greater web widths, and permits the uniquely compact four-high tower of the Cortina, including fully automatic plate changing and the many other automation modules, to be used also in 6/2 production up to a maximum web width of 2,100 mm.
Contrary to the current trend towards higher prices for conventional CtP printing plates, the guests in Würzburg also learned that the new waterless CtP plate MX7 from Toray Industries is to be reduced in price by a greater or lesser amount, depending on the quantities ordered, for new contracts with deliveries commencing from 2008. The price reductions promised by Toray Industries for new contracts result on the one hand from the significantly increased plate consumption for the seven on-stream Cortina installations in Europe, but at the same time also from the declared intention to transfer the work- and cost-intensive finishing (i.e. cutting and packaging) of its waterless plates for the European market from Japan to the Czech facility Toray Textile Central Europe (TTCE) in summer 2007. Additional stocks are then to be maintained in the Czech Republic, satisfying the demands from the newspaper industry concerning the absolute security of supplies. KBA marketing director Klaus Schmidt pointed out at the Cortina user meeting that, in addition to waterless pioneer Toray, two of the world's three leading manufacturers of plates for the newspaper industry are also showing an increased interest in the waterless offset process. At Kodak, for example, the development of a waterless plate suitable for newspaper printing has been pursued for some time in cooperation with KBA and is to be continued through to a marketable product. And the service life of the waterless plates, at more than 150,000 cylinder revolutions in newspaper printing and even more on semicommercial coated papers, is similarly no longer a source of worry for the user.
The discussion with the Cortina users illustrated clearly that waterless coldset printing, with the millions of newspapers, supplements, magazines, community bulletins and other products which are being printed in high quality each week, has long since grown out of its pilot phase and is on its way to convincing also the more conservative circles of the newspaper industry. The installations of further Cortina presses, as very soon at the Oggersheim print centre of the “Rheinpfalz” newspaper house near Ludwigshafen, a user renowned for its focus on economic efficiency and target-group orientation, are set to add even greater momentum to this development. After all, where many local editions are to be printed, or where additional work is planned, the fully automatic plate changing of the Cortina and the many other automation modules which are still far from commonplace on the market are unique features with an immediate positive effect on the bottom line.
The potential of the innovative KBA Cortina, however, is by no means exhausted with coldset applications, as the Belgian media house De Persgroep and KBA will be demonstrating towards the end of March at an open house in the user's new Eco Print Center in Lokeren to the north of Brussels. For several weeks now, De Persgroep has been printing not only coldset newspapers, but in one Cortina four-high tower also high-quality heatset semicommercials on coated papers, and that without any need for time-consuming ink changes. Particularly for medium and larger newspaper houses handling their own titles, but no less also for contract printers, this opens up some interesting new avenues. The discussion in the industry is already in full swing, and that not only in the newspaper branch. More to be revealed soon.