February 23, 2004 -- The print technology specialists at Koenig & Bauer AG in Radebeul (Germany) have been working since the late 90s on process solutions to optimise the use of hybrid inks in sheetfed offset.
The use of hybrid inks, with subsequent all-over UV coating, achieves higher gloss values than are possible from a double-coating process. The gloss attained is in fact on a par with that of most offline alternatives. Evaluations of long-term hybrid tests, furthermore, have also indicated significantly reduced drawback effects after 72 hours compared to the current technologies. KBA and its partners have worked intensively and successfully on means to minimise drawback over the past five years. Even though other inline coating possibilities are today able to offer similar gloss results, the high production speeds of a hybrid press still represent an important advantage.
The process stability of the hybrid technology is not an issue provided the inks and auxiliary media recommended by KBA and its partners are used, as demonstrated by countless examples of practical application throughout the industry.
The typical hybrid press
A typical standard hybrid configuration comprises a six-color press with coating tower, UV interdeck dryer, a delivery extension accommodating infrared and hot-air dryers, and UV final drying. For certain applications, a second UV interdeck dryer may used. KBA supplies hybrid presses across the whole product range from the half-format RAPIDA 74 to the super-large-format RAPIDA 205.
At the same time, the deliberate combination of two differing ink systems, i.e. hybrid and oil-based inks, permits spot finishes with interesting matt-gloss effects, but without requiring the otherwise indispensable photopolymer plates. With this technology, it is furthermore possible to control such matt-gloss effects and to realise spot finishes with extremely fine structures in offset-quality register.
Even gentle gloss gradations can be produced with ultimate process reliability. Through careful selection of suitable material combinations (hybrid and conventional inks, oil-based varnish and UV varnish), a broad diversity of gloss levels and effects (e.g. matt satin, pearlescent, soft-touch or relief effects) can be achieved.
Latest developments at drupa
At Drupa 2004, KBA and its partners, as the recognised know-how leaders in this field, will be presenting the latest state of the art in hybrid technology. One breakthrough certain to cause a stir is the further development of hybrid inks with low-odour and odourless properties, which opens up additional fields of application in packaging printing.
More than 100 hybrid Rapidas in the field
KBA alone has delivered over 100 presses with hybrid equipment to customers around the world, besides retrofitting a host of existing presses for hybrid production.
Numerous KBA patents filed for hybrid technology
KBA has invested a great deal of time and money in the further development of the hybrid technology and in the necessary know-how transfer into the print industry. One essential objective was to offer users of KBA offset presses opportunities to stand out above their competitors. In the meantime, however, other manufacturers and their users have also begun to augment their marketing with the new process capabilities of the hybrid technology, for which numerous KBA patents are pending and which is in part already protected by patent rights in the USA.
In view of the situation, KBA would like to point out, as a precautionary measure, that such practice could later become problematical with regard to possible patent violations, as soon as the examination proceedings are concluded and the final patents are granted. It is against this background that a licence agreement has already been signed with one print enterprise working with non-KBA press equipment. This option remains available to other users at any time, should they wish to use third-party equipment for hybrid production. In similar topical context, attention must also be drawn to the fact that advertising with a protected product or with a protected technology already infringes the rights of the patent holder. Many users, furthermore, are not aware that publication of a patent application already implements provisional protection, which then takes full effect should the patent be granted.
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