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KBA North America CEO Mark Hischar Discuss Inkjet Developments and the Emerging Hybrid Market

Published on June 29, 2012

Cary Sherburne talks to KBA North America CEO Mark Hischar about their recent technology demonstrations at drupa related to inkjet and discuss the future implications for this new technology on the company.

Cary Sherburne:  I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink, and I’m here with Mark Hischar who is President and CEO of KBA North America.  Welcome.

Mark Hischar:  Yes, thank you.

Cary Sherburne:  So, KBA has recently done some technology demonstrations around inkjet press.  Can you talk a little bit about that?

Mark Hischar:  Yes.  At Drupa this year, we introduced the RotaJET 76.  This is an inkjet printing press that is a web press.  We have incorporated the years and years of KBA technology of controlling the web throw press and we are inkjetting four color front and back, drying it, and we have several options where we can go roll to roll or we can go into a finishing device.  But it is a complete inkjet system that KBA has developed; again, focusing on controlling the web, where we think it has a big impact on the quality of the print.

Cary Sherburne:  And you know, this is an example of how we’re sort of moving in to a hybrid manufacturing market where we are instead of having a ground up design digital or a ground up designed offset we’re taking the best of both.

Mark Hischar:  Yes.

Cary Sherburne:  Which is really exciting.  So whose heads are you using in this?

Mark Hischar:  Kyocera.

Cary Sherburne:  Kyocera?  And what’s the anticipated speed?

Mark Hischar:  Five hundred feet per minute.

Cary Sherburne:  Okay.  And it’s a technology demo, so you probably don’t have pricing yet.

Mark Hischar:  No, not yet.

Cary Sherburne:  But you do expect to go into beta fairly soon I understand.

Mark Hischar:  We expect beta in 2012 and we’ll see what 2013 brings.

Cary Sherburne:  Okay.  That’s great.  And so what do you kind of see going forward in this market?  I mean, do you think that this is kind of -- I mean, the direction we’re going is -- does that mean offsets going to go away or what does it mean?

Mark Hischar:  Not at all.  In fact, right now, we’re selling more of the traditional offset presses, largely because of the technology that we’ve been able to introduce which makes it more productive than its ever been before.

Cary Sherburne:  So you can run short cost effectively run shorter run lengths.

Mark Hischar:  Absolutely.  I mean, with simultaneous plate change, with flying job change, and quite a few other innovations that we have, it really does give a run for the money for what a lot of people can see digital to be able to do in the future.  So certainly offset is not dead; we are at the moment, even before we went in to Drupa, we had a very large backlog in sheet-fed presses.  And so still that is a technology that’s around and getting better, continuing to get better.

Cary Sherburne:  So it’s interesting.  I mean, my perspective from the outside is that we’ve seen a lot of announcements of various types of sheet-fed and web-fed digital presses based on offset or in partnership with offset manufacturers or whatever, but to me it also gives your customers another level of confidence too, because they see this path forward.  Not that its going to eliminate offset but it’s a path forward; we have a digital plan, here’s the proof it, you can carry on with us and we’ll take you into the future kind of thing.

Mark Hischar:  Well one of the things with KBA is we’re looking at ink on substrate and it doesn’t necessarily have to be paper.  And we have a variety of technology.  And that’s one of the keys to the longevity of our company and moving in to inkjet is just another iteration of that.

Cary Sherburne:  Another phase, yeah.

Mark Hischar:  It’s another phase of where we’re going, so it’s very natural for us to do this.

Cary Sherburne:  That’s great.  Congratulations.

Mark Hischar:  Thank you.

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