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KBA Claims Leadership Position in Large Format Presses

Monday, September 11, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

September 11, 2006 -- From the fuss being made about large format presses, many printers would think they had just been invented. And the most vocal manufacturers seem to be the ones that don’t even build them – giving a 40in press an XL tag does not make it any bigger. KBA, the global market leader in Large Format for sheet sizes from 51" up to x 81", has decades of experience in offering printers of commercials, books, displays, posters and packaging with customized LF presses with technology that is second to none. Technological advances revive demand The launch of KBA large-format Rapida presses at Drupa 1995 heralded a quantum leap in makeready, automation, manning, ease of operation and net output, closing the quality gap to medium format even though the sheets are three to four times as big. Back then, today’s noisy proponents dismissed large format as a niche application that was all but extinct. They could not have been more mistaken: on the back of this technological tour de force LF presses made a spectacular comeback. And not content with defending market share in their core applications, packaging and book printing, where run lengths are steadily diminishing, they have muscled in on smaller formats in the commercial market too. New superlarge-format models unveiled by KBA at Drupa 2004 held their own against their heavily trailed ink-jet counterparts to attract a raft of orders from poster printers, whose run lengths are typically ultra-short. Medium-format printers have since stepped in where previously all but large-format printers feared to tread. Their incursion into the big-time league has been driven by cost/benefit considerations and/or a desire to raise their market profile by expanding their product range. Commercial printers have seized on the fact that a large-format sheet can accommodate 32, 48 or even 64 pages, as opposed to just 16 on a 41-inch sheet. Packaging printers are also exploiting the dramatic efficiency gains that large format can deliver: depending on the size of the packaging, where three blanks would fit on a 41-inch sheet, a Rapida 142 or Rapida 162 can print as many as eight. As an added bonus, LF printers can offer their customers the added-value benefit of single-source production, i.e. of commercials or packaging plus associated posters or displays. Some 900 large-format Rapidas in just over 10 years Since Drupa 1995 KBA has shipped almost 900 LF presses with a total of around 7,000 printing units. The most popular choice is the Rapida 162 (340 installations), closely followed by the Rapida 142 (320), which is a favorite among packaging printers and, increasingly, among commercial printers by virtue of the fact that the print format is twice that of a 41-inch press. Over the past three years these have been joined by shipments of some 40 VLF Rapida 185 and 205 presses. Presses shipped between 1995 and 2000 averaged five printing and coating units, but this has since increased to six as the market has evolved. And while there is still a demand for simple four- and five-color presses, there has been a perceptible shift towards presses with ten or more printing, coating and drying units, a high level of automation and all the attendant whistles and bells. Many printers are choosing the LF size. All-Out, Inc., a new general commercial printer located in Woodridge, Ill., seized the large format market and differentiated itself from the 40-inch market by installing a new KBA Rapida 142 56-inch five color press in its 25,000 sq ft facility in July 2006. "Our main goal in serving our customers is to be able to offer them a wide variety of printing----from large format printing to short-run, variable, on-demand work," says J.B. Capuano, All-Out’s president. "The new KBA Rapida 142 allows us to produce all types of commercial work as well as packaging and point-of-purchase, while a new Kodak NexPress gives us the ability to produce short-run personalized variable work." Gibraltar Packaging Group, Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of packaging products based in Hastings, Nebraska, was seeking multiple advantages by purchasing a KBA Rapida 142 56-inch seven-color sheetfed press. The new press, installed in late January 2006, includes such automation as automatic presets on the feeder and delivery; automatic blanket, plate, and impression cylinder washers; and semi-automatic plate changers. The press is also equipped with KBA’s closed-loop KBA Densitronic S closed loop scanning densitometer and Logotronic management systems. The new cutting-edge Qualitronic II inline sheet inspection system cuts waste and flags imperfect sheets. The Logotronic management provides Gibraltar with a company-wide data exchange as well as the latest computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) workflow. Unique to KBA: VLF perfectors KBA is the only press manufacturer in the global marketplace whose product range extends to convertible eight-color perfector presses for sheet sizes up to 64 in. At present these big perfectors are mainly used to print calendars, textbooks and colour picture books, but no doubt they will soon be adding commercial publications, as sheetfed printers follow the lead of their web press counterparts in shifting to high-volume print production. By way of a bonus, KBA large-format sheetfed presses can handle a wider range of substrates than other manufacturers presses and and can handle a wider range of page sizes than web presses. KBA unveiled the first Rapida 162 eight-color perfector in 2002, ten years after 40-inch presses were furnished with this capability. For book printers, in particular, it is far more cost-effective to perfect print twice the number of pages in one pass. Apart from the time saving, this cuts the number of pages per book and the amount of interim storage space required. Large-format guillotines in the finishing department cut the sheets down to 40-inch so that they can be handled by standard 40-inch equipment. Over 20 large-format Rapida perfectors for 4 over 4 are in operation worldwide, from the Rapida 130 to the 162. Approx. 15 per cent of all big Rapidas have a perfecting capability, and for folding cartons or other special applications the configuration of choice is five or six colors or more with perfecting after the first or second printing unit. This supports one-pass production, say, of blister packs with operating instructions on the back or folding cartons with assembly instructions or recipes etc on the inside. Customized Configurations and high-grade inline coating Inline coating is another application where large format can hold its own against medium format, and one or more coaters feature in roughly half the installed base of LF Rapidas. The traditional five colors plus coater plus extended delivery no longer dominate: configurations now include two coaters, a perfector and coater, and additional printing units after the coater. The longest large-format press line currently in existence is probably a Rapida 142 at Anzpac. Over 131ft in length, the 13-unit press is configured as two colors, a coater and convertible perfector followed by six more colors, a second coater, two interdeck dryers, a third coater and extended delivery. This press illustrates KBA’s unique level of know-how in engineering complex press lines for specific applications. Two-coater KBA presses with six or seven colors have become a mainstream configuration, even in large format, and can be found at a string of printshops stretching from the US, Russia and Germany to France. Providing customized automation systems for pile logistics at the feeder and delivery on individual or multiple packaging presses is no novelty for KBA, which has also started installing pallet-free logistics systems. Where thick substrates like cartonboard or corrugated are printed, such systems can raise productivity without requiring additional personnel. Pacific Southwest Container, the West Coast’s premier provider of packaging solutions, is adding yet another KBA large format sheetfed press this fall, bringing to five in total installed at the facility in Modesto, California. To date, the firm has four KBA Rapida sheetfed presses: - KBA Rapida 162 64-inch six-color sheetfed UV interdeck printing press, plus tower coater with anilox roll metering - KBA Rapida 130 50-inch seven-color sheetfed printing press, plus tower coater - KBA Rapida 162 64-inch six-color sheetfed UV interdeck printing press with oversized cylinders - KBA Rapida 105 40-inch nine-color sheetfed UV interdeck printing press, plus tower coater. The first printing unit is flexographic followed by a curing station. This fall, PSC will install another KBA Rapida 162 64-inch six-color sheetfed press in Modesto for additional capacity. Allied Printing Services Inc., a large sheetfed and web commercial and financial printer serving customers nationwide and located in Manchester, Connecticut, has been successfully utilizing its new KBA Rapida 142 56" six-color large format press with aqueous coating. Beer mats, metal boxes, corrugated and other applications Far from being restricted to commercials, packaging and books, large-format presses have proved equally cost-effective for a number of niche products. For example, Ad-Mat International Coasters USA, Inc., a leading coaster manufacturer located in Johnson City, Tenn., installed a large format Rapida 130 51-inch four-color sheetfed press in the spring of 2005 to the firm’s 55,000 sq ft facility where it joined two other KBA 51-inch five-color presses. "We chose the KBA Rapida 130 press because it has the ability to print on thicker stock and it prints with consistent quality," says Kitty Elbers, the firm’s CEO. "That’s very important to our company. We’re also very impressed with all of the automation on the press such as the fully automatic plate changing system, the quick turnaround, fast makeready, and the service provided by KBA." Direct offset on corrugated sheets up to 64 pt thick is another specialist application, and RoK in St Ruprecht, Austria, recently pushed the button on a Rapida 142 six-color coater press which is used exclusively for such work. The big Rapidas are even suitable for UV and hybrid production on sensitive substrates. For the past twelve years KBA’s subsidiary Bauer+Kunzi (now KBA-MetalPrint) has based its metal-decorating presses on Rapida units. Here, too, the number of printing units per press line has increased over the years from two to five or six. The longest installation of this type so far is a Metalstar 2 eight-color press with inline coater and UV dryer. Although other manufacturers have now moved into superlarge format, it will be years before they attain the standard of professionalism and expertise that KBA invests today in its large format press range. When it comes to press engineering, competence is based as much on experience as on skill.




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