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Featured:     European Coverage     Production Inkjet Analysis

KBA retrofits inkjet systems to newspaper presses

Friday, April 05, 2013

Press release from the issuing company

Variable imprints boost newspaper attractiveness for the reader and at the same time offer publishers additional design options. Targeted advertising, regionalisation, reader promotions such as prize draws, or even the possibility to update individual news blocks after production begins (e.g. the latest results from elections or football matches) are just a few of the many ways to offer added value in terms of up-to-date information and reader benefit.

Premiere 18 years ago: KBA already demonstrated highly personalised newspaper production with Scitex inkjet heads in the superstructure of an Express offset press at Drupa 95. A different cartoon was printed on each front page at a slightly reduced production speed. Scitex was later renamed Kodak Versamark. Given the enormous advances in inkjet technology and current developments on the newspaper market, this form of hybrid print is today more attractive than ever

It was back at drupa '95, in other words almost 18 years ago, that KBA first presented an Express newspaper press with variable imprinting, at that time using inkjet heads from Scitex in Dayton/Ohio, the manufacturer later taken over by Kodak. The inkjet technology has developed further in the meantime and KBA has gained extensive experience with a diversity of applications, the latest being the high-volume digital web press RotaJET 76. 

As already with the predecessor company Scitex in 1995, KBA offers the latest generation of inkjet imprinting heads in cooperation with Kodak. The imprinting system preferred by Kodak for this purpose – Prosper S30 – features a maximum print resolution of 600 x 200 dpi and can imprint variable data at web speeds up to 15 m/s. Optimum positioning of the print heads in the superstructure, the exact clearance between print heads and paper web, and precise setting of the web tension and cut-off register are routine tasks for a press manufacturer with the competence of KBA.

Added value through retrofitting to older offset presses

Especially for users of older newspaper presses with low levels of automation and long makeready processes, the retrofitting of an inkjet system brings interesting new possibilities. Many older KBA Journal, Colora, Express and Commander presses are still delivering good print quality in production all over the world, They are nevertheless often unable to keep pace with today's demands in respect of makeready for ever smaller part editions, and must consequently yield to presses of the latest generation with automatic plate changing and diverse control and software modules for optimised, time- and waste-saving start-up and run-down.

With an inkjet imprinting system, on the other hand, it becomes possible to produce title pages with corresponding regional headlines and content indexes both flexibly and without additional waste. Frequently changing regional sections – in the majority of cases no more than four to six pages in part editions of 1,000 to 10,000 copies – could be printed parallel to the main production on a high-volume inkjet web press such as the KBA RotaJET 76. This mixed variant also holds further potential for other products in short runs or with a high degree of personalisation. That is not to say, however, that retrofits to older presses are rendered superfluous by the new options. At the end of the day, it is the individual product and production structure which counts – and a well-founded economic feasibility study to determine the most meaningful investment variant. KBA supports users in this respect with corresponding analyses.

Inkjet retrofit: Crossbeam for the Kodak Prosper S30 inkjet imprinting system and cameras in the superstructure of a KBA offset press. The photo shows the standard variant with one print head. Two or more print heads are also possible to cater for a larger imprint area or higher production speeds

Fast retrofits without disturbing production

KBA integrates the Kodak inkjet system into the press superstructure with a camera for register control and a motor-adjusted crossbeam for exact positioning of the print head unit relative to the paper web. The crossbeam can also be fitted with several print heads and camera systems to cater for higher web speeds or higher resolutions. The complete system is installed and commissioned by KBA service personnel. Console integration is available as an option, as is a stand-alone solution with external touchpanel PC.

Already in the next few weeks, Koenig & Bauer will be installing eleven Kodak Prosper inkjet systems on KBA presses used by contractor printers of the Axel Springer group at seven locations in Germany. The retrofits are to be completed by early summer 2013, without disturbing daily production to any mentionable degree. The KBA technicians are also able to retrofit inkjet systems to newspaper and commercial web presses from other manufacturers.


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