Following successful installations of KBA sheetfed offset presses in other print companies belonging to the Slovakian Grafobal group, whose operations are spread over several Eastern European countries and cover numerous other segments beside the core competency in packaging, the first KBA Rapida 106 has now been taken into operation at the Grafobal headquarters in Skalica. The configuration of this 28-metre high-tech press, with its 13 printing, coating and dryer units, is unique in Slovakia – and no less remarkable far beyond the local borders.
Nine printing units are followed by a coater, two dryer towers, a second coater and a triple-length extended delivery with installation space for further dryers. This is at first sight a typical double-coater press for conventional, UV or mixed operation in the high-quality printing and finishing of folding carton products. Accordingly, the Rapida is also equipped with board-handling accessories and customer-specific pile logistics facilities, while a 675 mm plinth enables the use of higher piles when printing thick substrates.
18,000 sheets/hour with 13 units
Much less common for such a long press, however, is the enormous output of up to 18,000 sheets per hour with the HighSpeed package. One of the features which makes this possible is the extremely precise, sidelay-free SIS infeed (Sensoric Infeed System), which is only to be found on KBA Rapidas. Similarly standard for the Rapida 106, in contrast to many other medium-format presses of this category, is the consistent implementation of a dedicated drive concept at the feeder, with separate motors for the feeder head and feed table. In combination with the special Venturi sheet guiding system, high-performance VariDry dryers and a dynamic sheet brake in the delivery, these technical details lay the foundation for optimum print quality even at high speeds.
Job changeover at the press of a button
High net outputs are dependent not just on high production speeds, but especially on fast makeready. The job changeover program of the Rapida 106 ensures that all selected changeover processes are performed automatically and in optimised sequence. The LogoTronic Professional software enables the data and corresponding press settings for the next job to be loaded into the ErgoTronic console while the current production is still running. The actual job changeover can then be started with a single press of a button.
For over ten years now, the magic word for fast job changeovers on the makeready world champion press Rapida 106 has been “simultaneous”. In the meantime, other manufacturers have also started to use this term, though users must remain wary as to exactly what it is intended to describe. For the Rapida 106 in Skalica, the situation is unambiguous: Thanks to the DriveTronic SPC (Simultaneous Plate Change) direct drive technology on the plate cylinders, the plates can be changed in all nine printing units at the same time. KBA Plate Ident reads a data matrix code to identify the mounted plates and can thus monitor their correct positioning and order. Parallel to this, i.e. without any loss of time, the blankets and impression cylinders can be washed with the CleanTronic Multi system.
Another important function which contributes to fast makeready in folding carton production using a large number of different colours is the washing system DriveTronic SRW for the ink rollers in printing units 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. If any of these units are not required for the current job, the rollers can already be washed down during production. Time-consuming ink changes between jobs thus become a thing of the past. Fast job changeovers are not limited to just the printing units, however. One of the coaters incorporates an AniloxLoader system for automated anilox roller changes without physical stress for the operator. Three anilox rollers are held in a magazine directly on the coater. This system, too, is unique in Slovakia.
A double-coater press permits a multitude of coating effects. All the more so when it is equipped not only with supply circuits for dispersion and UV coatings, but also with provisions for special coating types such as gold, silver and Iriodin. The outputs of the IR/hot-air intermediate dryers and the VariDryBLUE IR, hot-air and UV dryers in the triple-length extended delivery are adapted to handle these applications. The VariDryBLUE final dryers are particularly efficient, as the hot air delivered to the initial segments is subsequently recirculated for drying in the rest of the delivery. The benefits of repeated heat use are especially evident in an air-conditioned hall.
For printers of highly demanding packaging, e.g. for cigarettes, continuous quality control is an absolute must. On the Rapida 106, a camera system enables the operator to stay abreast of what is happening inside the press. The on-press measuring and control system QualiTronic Professional uses inline measurements to evaluate every single sheet and to detect possible defects in the printed image. If necessary, the inking can be corrected and expensive waste is reduced to a minimum. The customer can also be offered a detailed quality report. Further systems which help the operator to monitor print quality are ErgoTronic ColorControl for the measurement of ink densities and L*a*b* values, and ErgoTronic ACR for register evaluation.
In addition to its primary function of simultaneous plate changing, the SPC system can also be used to adjust the print length. This practical function is a highly valued means to further enhance product quality.
Convenience and efficiency at the console
The operator-friendly ErgoTronic console enables convenient and efficient press handling. All functions are accessed and controlled intuitively via the TouchTronic interface, which never requires more than two taps on the console touchscreen. The program “One-Button Job Change” accelerates job changes by optimising the sequence of individual process steps. The “FastInkUp” function, on the other hand, is able to reduce start-up waste by up to 40 per cent; the last sheets of a job are used to reduce the old ink profile on the rollers, and the inking unit comes into colour faster with the new profile. The operator is presented a clearly arranged job list with information on ink coverage, visualisation of the ink profiles and preview images. The coverage data of the individual jobs facilitate determination of an optimum job sequence to minimise start-up waste and makeready time.
The sixth installation of a Rapida press in a company of the Grafobal group underlines KBA's strong position in packaging print. This applies not only in large formats, where KBA is the uncontested market leader, but also in the highly competitive medium-format segment. Proof is furnished not least by a recent stream of installations with packaging customers on the Czech and Slovakian markets. But not only the packaging segment is convinced – commercial and book printers are equally appreciative of the practice-oriented automation and high production output of the KBA Rapidas.