Open house for packaging printers at KBA in Radebeul
Monday, March 15, 2010
Press release from the issuing company
"XL or XXLplus?" was the question dominating the agenda of an open house targeting large format and packaging printers at the Radebeul facility of Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) on 11th March. Some 160 representatives of this market segment from ten European countries and the USA accepted the invitation to discuss the technical and economic implications of production in large format (XL) as opposed to superlarge format (XXLplus) in respect of prepress (Kodak), press (KBA) and postpress equipment (Bobst).
The undisputed star of the event was the highly automated Rapida 185 press (format 130 x 185 cm) with seven printing units, two coaters and three dryer towers built for the trade and media group Al Bayan in Saudi Arabia. This colossal press, measuring 33 m in length and weighing in at several hundred tonnes, was able to demonstrate its impressive potential printing on both solid and corrugated board. First, however, together with its slightly larger sister press Rapida 205 (151 x 205 cm), it pitted this performance against that of a six-colour Rapida 142 coater press in format 102 x 142 cm, as a typical configuration chosen by packaging printers, in a series of productivity and profitability comparisons.
After a brief welcome by Ralf Sammeck, KBA vice-president for sheetfed offset sales, the meeting got straight down to business. Mirroring the sequence of the production process, the floor was first given to Beatrice Lässig, unified workflow solutions sales manager at Kodak, who gave a presentation on the subject "Packaging prepress for large and superlarge formats – Automation makes the difference!" She showed that decisive foundations for the quality, production efficiency and profitability of packaging printing are already laid at the prepress stage. The large-format CtP systems from Kodak use thermal imaging and the company's SquareSpot technology to ensure process stability and consistent repeatability in plate-making. The Kodak Magnus VLF Quantum platesetter is able to serve all KBA large-format presses through to the Rapida 205. The modular, expandable systems, with their diversity of speed and automation options, can be tailored to the most varied productivity needs.
Kodak: CtP platesetters for all formats
Modern thermal plates, such as the no-preheat Electra XD, the extremely high-resolution DITP or the Sword Ultra, which does without postbaking, satisfy the quality and performance demands of packaging printing with both conventionally dried and UV-cured inks. At IPEX 2010, Kodak will be launching a further innovation, the no-preheat thermal plate Trillian SP, which stands out by way of its low processing chemical use and high resistance to press chemistries.
Advantages for superlarge format with long runs
At first sight, the comparisons of different run lengths up to 30,000 sheets seemed to indicate that, in view of their lower production speed (Rapida 185: 11,000 sph; Rapida 205: 9,000 sph) and longer makeready times, the two superlarge-format presses were clearly unable to match the sheet output of the Rapida 142 (max. 15,000 sph). The situation changes, on the other hand, if the production output is calculated in terms of sheet area or final products. A sheet in format 102 x 142 cm, for example, can accommodate 16 typical folding cartons. On a Rapida 185, this figure increases to 25, and on a Rapida 205 even to 36 products. Consequently, the production output of the Rapida 185 exceeds that of the Rapida 142 with an increasing tendency from a run length of 6,500 sheets. With a Rapida 205, this break-even point is already reached with an average run length of 5,000 sheets.
Further analyses, however, show that the production costs only fall below those of the Rapida 142 from a run length of 16,000 sheets for the Rapida 185, or 12,000 sheets for the Rapida 205. As these profitability thresholds may shift up or down significantly, depending on the individual job structure, a careful cost-benefit analysis is advisable in the forefront of corresponding investment projects.
Reducing non-productive makeready times
Saving waste and energy
The same applies to the subject of energy. Industrial electricity prices rose by 131 per cent between 1998 and 2009. A further increase by almost 100 per cent is expected for the period to 2030. It is thus an evident necessity to improve the energy efficiency of printing presses. KBA has decided to tackle the especially energy-intensive drying process. As a first outcome, the new dryer technology KBA VariDryBLUE provides for hot air which is not yet saturated to be returned into the drying air circuit. The heating input and waste air volume are reduced dramatically. A comparison of the energy efficiency of standard and KBA VariDryBLUE dryers revealed an energy saving of over 50 per cent and a reduction in CO2 emissions by over 116 tonnes per year – an important contribution to both economy and ecology in print. Over an investment period of seven years, the potential savings total almost €250,000.
Mayr-Melnhof: Large board formats are also manageable
Bobst: Die-cutters also available for the 2-metre format
Sandro Gubinelli also provided some valuable information to aid investment decisions. He identified a series of calculation parameters and compared the productivity of the large-format machines MASTERCUT 145 PER, MASTERCUT 1.7 and MASTERCUT 2.1. The result was similar to that revealed in sheetfed offset print: While the largest machine took a clear lead by processing a sheet area of 27.5 million m², the MASTERCUT 1.7 was able to output around 1.1 million sheets more per year thanks to its faster speed. If we view annual performance by the number of sheets, on the other hand, the 20 million sheets per year of the MASTERCUT 145 PER means another 1.7 million sheets on top of what is achieved by the MASTERCUT 1.7. Sandro Gubinelli's summary: "Each user is different, the parameters are different and the needs are specific, and that is why we offer a large range of different products. The decision is yours!"
Demonstration on the largest sheetfed offset press in the world
The Rapida 185 first printed a typical POS display for a brewery on F-flute board. Following a comprehensive job changeover, the press ran a City-Light poster with an all-over UV finish (primer in the first coater and solid UV coating in the second). After another job changeover – this time with an automated coating forme change completed in a mere two minutes – the Rapida went on to print a 25-up packaging forme for the food industry at maximum speed on a 210 gsm topliner. This sequence of very different jobs gave an impressive demonstration of the versatility of the superlarge-format Rapidas. The market segments posters, displays and book printing have always been strong domains, but further important fields of application can now be expected to follow in high-volume folding carton production and transport packaging for direct installation at the point of sale. There are seemingly no limits for the presses thanks to their exemplary substrate flexibility. Even so, the comparison production on a six-colour Rapida 142 with inline coating gave a clear indication that the established formats 6 and 7 will continue to predominate in packaging production overall.
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