With commercial printers still reeling from the impact of the economic meltdown, overcapacity and price erosion, most reports of new investments in the Europeans web offset market tend to focus on high-volume press lines for 64, 72, 80 and even 96 A4 pages on the cylinder. But the proliferation of such presses over the past ten years has in fact contributed to the problem by boosting capacity and driving down prices. On top of this, dwindling ad revenues in the wake of the recession have caused a decline in print runs and pagination, exacerbating the situation. When bidding for contracts, keeping the presses running often takes precedence over profitability. As a result wide, double-circumference presses end up printing jobs for which a modern 16pp press would have been more cost-effective.
55,000 or 65,000cph and extensive automation
While KBA also builds big presses for up to 80 pages, in view of the current trend towards smaller circulations and more specific targeting by magazines, catalogues and upmarket promos, it sees a parallel need for innovative 16pp web offset presses. After all, well over 50 per cent of the commercial presses not just in Europe but worldwide are for 16 pages. When designing the innovative new 16pp C16 KBA, the inventor of the first mechanical printing press, made a high net output, high-speed job changes, low levels of start-up waste, enhanced production flexibility and reduced operator, energy and maintenance input its key objectives, along with outstanding value for money. The extensively automated KBA C16 (C stands for commercial) will be offered in two performance classes: 55,000 and 65,000cph. Its output falls between the Compacta 215 (max. 50,000cph), of which there are over 150 installations, and the Compacta 217 (max. 70,000cph) launched at Drupa 2004. Compared to these two models the C16 has several interesting new features and compared to similar models from domestic and foreign competitors it boasts a raft of technical and user benefits. Once the final tests that are currently taking place have been concluded the first to fire up the new press will be German commercial print enterprise L.N. Schaffrath in Geldern, North Rhine-Westphalia, which is slated to press the button on a 65,000cph version in August.
C16's unique winning features
The KBA C16's key innovations and unique features include:
- the fastest plate change in its class (less than 60 seconds irrespective of the number of plates);
- KBA's unique RollerTronic rollers locks for a longer service life and reduced maintenance;
- a new, automatically convertible P3 folder with just one quarterfold up to 65,000cph and unique automated copy control;
- dedicated AC drives for each printing couple and other features for enhancing energy efficiency;
- flying job change with proven imprinter technology;
- optimised KBA EasyTronic software for fast, low-waste start-up and run-down at the touch of a button;
- automatic presetting, job management and optional JDF process integration via KBA LogoTronic Professional;
- user-friendly handling and optimum access to all subassemblies and feed systems;
- networking technology with high-powered MLC
Efficient reel logistics and energy recovery
The C16 is fed with paper by KBA's well-proven Patras reel-logistics system with custom-configurable automation, and reelstands engineered for the maximum reel diameter and production speed specified (Pastoline, Pastomat C or Pastomat CL for a reel diameter of 1,524mm/60in). The C16's compact form encompasses an infeed unit built into the reelstand and all key elements (such as a web aligner) for a precise web run. Green technology includes an energy recovery system.
New printing-unit design delivers benefits in quality, handling...
The robust, bearer-free double printing units in the C16 are designed for a superb print quality, fast job changes and ergonomic operation. They feature the minigaps developed by KBA in the 1990s and subsequently adopted by other vendors, plus blanket plates that can be changed in under three minutes. The print-free margin is less than 6mm (0.25in), which saves on paper, minimises vibration and, unlike conventional blankets, requires no adjustment. Another feature lacking in other models is the ability to adjust impression pressure via a setting screw when switching to a different type of paper (eg in conjunction with a sheeter). There is a choice of automatic or semi-automatic plate change. Four forme rollers and large roller diameters ensure a swift ink/water balance during start-up and stable colour during long print runs.
...maintenance, cost efficiency and emissions
With KBA's RollerTronic roller locks all the inking rollers can be adjusted by push-button from the console in less than two minutes. What is more, RollerTronic reduces roller abrasion, the frequency with which rollers must be changed, recoating costs and maintenance input while enhancing energy efficiency and printing conditions. The C16's drive system is also the exception in this class: a dedicated AC drive for each couple (ie two per printing unit) allows the circumferential register to be set with no abrasion-prone mechanical parts. And two motors per printing unit generate less braking and accelerating force than does the usual single motor. The C16's inking units are ideal for alcohol-free printing, as are the dampening units which can be converted from direct to indirect operation. The dampening units' exceptional stability guarantees a rapid ink/water balance and thus very little start-up waste and a low makeready speed.
New P3 folder: one quarterfold module, automatic copy control
KBA has also substantially upgraded its P3 pin folder. Already automatically convertible from one type of stock to another, the P3 now features just one quarterfold module and new automatic copy control. This cuts initial investment costs, relieves the press crew of tedious setting tasks, ensures consistent printing conditions and helps reduce waste. A touch screen at the folder delivery shortens walking distances for the operator and can double as a full-scale console.
Modular design supports customised configurations
The P3 is available in a wide choice of configurations to support over 30 different types of fold in combination with various copy formats. The web guide elements in the superstructure (which can also be configured with turner bars) are easily accessed, as are the former and slitter. KBA's patented turner bars do not have to be adjusted for different ribbon widths. The superstructure's modular design, with dedicated drives throughout, means it can be customised freely and subsequently extended with retrofits. The same applies to the entire press line. The KBA C16 is available as a left/right or right/left floor-mounted press with up to eight units, as a two-tier configuration or as a duplex line with cross lead. Pre-delivery testing of pre-assembled modular components cuts on-site installation and commissioning times.
Digital integration with ErgoTronic, EasyTronic and LogoTronic
The upgraded, user-oriented ErgoTronic console is the operator's central work station, where he can initiate fast, automatic press start-up and run-down at the touch of a single button. During makeready he can also automatically preset the slitter, turner bars, register rollers and former, or pre-ink the plates. To cut start-up waste KBA has substantially reduced the C16's makeready speed. LogoTronic or LogoTronic Professional software for capturing operational data, downloading presetting data and storing job data to accelerate press preset for repeat jobs can be embedded in the customer's workflow and even supports JDF networking.
KBA sources the C16's colour measurement and control systems, cut-off register controls, hot-air dryer and other auxiliaries from established, proven vendors.