Every four years, the international printing community gathers at drupa and asks itself a question: How are we doing? The Koenig & Bauer Group (KBA) believes that if every vendor’s experience over the last few years had been as positive as its own, the collective answer would have to be: Never better.

Although no company can be typical of the nearly 1,900 exhibitors that will take part in the two-week event at Messe Düsseldorf, KBA’s plans for drupa seem poised to put a memorable stamp on the show as a whole. Having chosen “sprinting ahead” as its expo theme, KBA is out to generate momentum not just for its own business, but for the future of print manufacturing in all markets and applications.

As the world’s second-largest press manufacturer, and as a leader in the advancement of printing technologies, KBA has a clear interest in promoting the desirability of print in the multimedia marketplace. At drupa, it will deliver this message from a 37,700-sq.ft. stand in Hall 16 where it will showcase a comprehensive set of solutions for sheetfed offset, web offset, and digital production.

Some of these products will be unique or record-setting in their categories. All of them, the company promises, will be worthy of close attention as platforms that epitomize how automated, cost-efficient, and versatile today’s print manufacturing technologies from KBA can be. 

Trove of “drupa Firsts”

Stand 16 C47 will be divided into eight sections comprising 16 technology demonstrations—10 of which, according to KBA, are “drupa firsts” that break new ground in machine productivity and process control. The exhibit, says KBA, represents the broadest range of products in the industry, enabling the company to offer innovative production solutions for nearly every conventional and digital print market application.

From May 3 to May 16, the stand—the same size as KBA’s exhibit at 2008—will become a demo center for five sheetfed offset presses in small, half, medium, and large formats, including three that are completely new. Of the three web offset installations for commercial, packaging and newspaper print, two also are being shown for the first time. Certain to make news is the inkjet web press that KBA will unveil at drupa, heralding the company’s entry into the digital equipment arena.

Most of this equipment will be put through its paces in a daily series of live shows and individual demonstrations that have been scheduled for the duration of the event. KBA also will conduct private “VIP” demos at the stand before drupa opens, and attendees wishing to arrange them may do so by contacting their KBA sales representatives. 

KBA will share the details of its exhibit in a series of trade media announcements leading up to the show. Among the highlights disclosed during a drupa preview at KBA’s headquarters in Radebeul, Germany, last month were the following:

Speed increase for Rapida 106. At the show, an optional package will raise the top speed of this 41" press to 20,000 sheets per hour (sph) in straight printing and to 18,000 sph in perfecting mode. Both top speeds become new industry benchmarks for sheetfed production. The drupa 2012 version of the Rapida 106 will be configured with 12 units for four-color printing and inline coating on both sides of the sheet. It also will have new features for precision sheet delivery and inline quality monitoring and control. 

New large-format Rapida 145. The latest generation of large-format Rapidas will make its drupa debut in a six-color configuration with a new coater, a triple-length extended delivery, a three-drum perfecting unit, and automated pile logistics. The maximum production speed of the 57" Rapida 145 will be 17,000 sph straight (with a high-speed package) and 15,000 sph perfecting. Many of the automation features of the ultra high-performance Rapida 106, such as sidelay-free infeed (DriveTronic SIS) and direct drives (DriveTronic SPC) for simultaneous plate changing, are available on the Rapida 145.

High-volume inkjet web press. The RotaJET 76 digital web press is both a first for KBA and a major step forward for inkjet systems of this type. Developed and built by KBA, the RotaJET 76 prints at a maximum speed of nearly 500 feet per minute on webs up to 30.7" wide—equivalent to 3,000 A4 pages per minute or 85 million pages per month. Printing with water-based pigment inks from piezo inkjet heads at a resolution of 600 dpi, the press is packed with features for waste minimization and quality control in high-volume, on demand, and personalized applications. At drupa, the RotaJET 76 will operate in conjunction with a SigmaLine automated postpress system from Muller Martini.

Information in Abundance

Besides the equipment displays, another feature of the stand worth investigating is the Technology Lounge. Here, visitors can learn about KBA’s latest innovations in drying, finishing, energy management, and other key production functions. Also available is information about KBA’s new “PressConsum” line of consumables, optimized for use with high-performance KBA Rapida presses. Details about KBA’s expanded service offerings, its new tools for climate-neutral printing, and the advances it has made in CtP and workflow can be gathered in the Technology Lounge as well. 

Everything at Stand 16 C47 serves to underscore another theme that KBA intends to emphasize at drupa: its prowess in R&D. The basis of that claim is a matter of record: the Patent Board, an independent ratings agency, recently ranked KBA #11 in patent value in its annual top-50 scorecard for manufacturers of heavy industrial equipment. Placing 13 points higher than the next press manufacturer in the scorecard, KBA boosted its standing with the help of 60 patents and a high score in technology strength as measured by the Patent Board. 

Something else that KBA won't be shy about mentioning at drupa is its continuing financial stability. Corporate financial statements for 2011 show that KBA has been profitable for three years in a row, making it unique among press manufacturers in the midst of a post-recessionary economy. Although it acknowledges that conditions in the print equipment marketplace remain challenging, KBA believes that it is well positioned to emerge from the downturn in the same highly competitive shape.


Technical innovation, market leadership, and business confidence—these are the attributes that KBA will invite drupa-goers to see and judge for themselves at Stand 16 C47. Those planning to attend can keep abreast of KBA's drupa activity at its show news site.