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Drupa – the press conferences, Part Three; KBA goes digital; Screen goes wide format

Saturday, 05 May 2012
By Patrick Howard
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There was a time when manufacturers held back product launches to coincide with drupa. Not any more. Product development cycles move faster than once every four years and the imperative to get new development into the market and get some return on investment is intense.

Nonetheless, most companies try to have something new to talk about at drupa. Sometimes it’s only a refresh of existing products; sometimes they are fortunate to coincide a launch with the exhibition. It’s part of the press corps role to note and pass on what products are launched.

The next generation of the KBA leading family, Claus Bolsa-Schünemann, (pictured on home page) made his first appearance as CEO of the German press manufacturer. He made much of the fact that KBA has survived the financial crisis without government bailout. He was proud, he said, the company made profit, albeit very little, every year and that it is structured to continue in the much tougher market conditions all press manufacturers face.

According to Bolsa-Schünemann, the global market annual sales of analogue presses halved from €9 billion in 2007 to €4.5 billion now. To address this KBA continues to play in almost every sector of the industry, especially in high-end offset packaging where it is the undoubted leader. A new big Rapida 145 changes plates in record time, claiming 78% shorter makeready than its rivals. This is an enormous press, more of a standalone packaging factory.

KBA’s benchmark press, Rapida 106, is also made over like new; new auto plate changer, new ink unit, new dryer and new hi-line delivery. With a rated speed of 20,000 it’s a formidable challenger in the commercial market. A less sophisticated version is the Rapida 105 for printers who don’t require so many quick changeovers; a workhorse long run press.

These are the mainstream sheetfed offset presses, along with its commercial and newspaper webs, that KBA relies on to make money, but like everyone else it has to address the digital market. It has taken a typical path, for KBA, by creating the RotaJET inkjet web press from the ground up. This plays into the company’s serious industrial production ethos by being rated for 3,000 A4 pages per minute. Is there a market for this type of machine? Only time will tell.

Screen develops labels and wide format inkjet

 The Japanese company Screen continues to identify itself with the inkjet revolution. It changed from being a CTP manufacturer a few years ago when that technology reached saturation in the market, to becoming a press manufacturer.

There’s little doubt the techno-expertise of Screen, the industry’s favourite OEM manufacturer, can be applied to everything. This time around it has a new flatbed wide format printer, the Truepress Jet W1632UV. The main differentiation of the UV enabled press is speed, putting through 94sqm per hour for sign and display output.

Screen’s other drupa launche is the Truepress Jet UV inkjet label press. It joins an increasing number of manufacturers piling into digital labels, where it is envisaged there is a growing demand for short runs.

The Truepress Jet is a formidable contestant with an automatic head cleaning function, proprietary high-res screening and 16sqm per minuter throughput.

drupa leaves no doubt that the manufacturers are energetically driving technology. How many of the products will be a success and survive to the next drupa is impossible to tell. But for anyone looking to invest in the graphic arts, there’s a techno smorgasbord laid out in the halls of drupa 2012.





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