For press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) and its local subsidiary KBA-China, the five-day Print China trade fair in Dongguan (Guangdong province) that ended on 13 April was a resounding success.
KBA's banner – "Proven Green Technology" – reflected the group's focus on environmentally friendly print production, and drew a big attendance to the 1,000m²-plus (10,765ft²) KBA stand, as did the four litho presses exhibited. By the end of the fair KBA had surpassed all expectations, even for the biggest show in 2011, booking orders for more than 250 Rapida small-, medium- and large-format printing units plus two Compacta 215 press lines. Once again the Chinese printing industry underscored its dynamic growth trajectory, particularly in the sheetfed sector.
With ecology and climate protection high on the list of priorities in China's new five-year plan, vendor credibility plays a central role. Members of the trade in China acknowledge KBA, which is now the world's second-biggest press manufacturer, as one of the pioneers and promoters of eco-friendly press technology. KBA unveiled emissions-tested litho presses back at Drupa 2000, long before any other vendor. It has swum against the mainstream for the past 15 years, single-mindedly pursuing advances in waterless offset with waste-reducing anilox inking units for both sheetfed and web presses (74 Karat, Rapida 74G, Cortina, Genius 52UV). In conventional offset the group was an early adopter of alcohol-free print production and more recently has focused on energy efficiency with new products like its VariDryBLUE dryer with heat recovery in large format, or energy-saving B2 (29in) Rapida 75E press.
Hybrid print production with UV and oil-based coatings aroused keen interest on the KBA stand. A seven-color Rapida 105 with coater and delivery extension printed lavishly finished posters. During a single demonstration the press produced prints with three different types of coating (gloss, matt, structured). This model has proved very popular in China, and KBA has booked a string of orders. Two presses exhibited in China for the first time were KBA's energy-efficient Rapida 75E and also its SRA2 (26in) Rapida 66, which can print twice the format but costs little more than an A3 press. The compact Genius 52UV also attracted a throng of print pros with its ability to print on plastic film and other non-absorbent materials. In tandem with Logica, an Italian alliance partner, KBA also promoted new production management software, ProductivityPlus, which supports workflow integration, job handling and final costing. Workflow demonstrations met with a surprisingly high level of interest and were booked out for the entire show.
Although KBA did not exhibit any of its big Rapidas, there is an ongoing trend towards large format. Longstanding KBA user Suining Lihua Xinjin Printing and Packing signed up for a Rapida 162a five-color coater press and, for its subsidiary in Sechuan, a six-color version of KBA's high-tech Rapida 106, also with a coater. This brings the company's tally to eight medium- and large-format Rapidas in less than ten years.
Heshan Astros, the 20-year-old Hong Kong subsidiary of China's gigantic LEO Paper Group, also opted for a Rapida 162a to print packaging. It will be Heshan Astros' seventh KBA press but the first of this type in China to incorporate KBA's energy-efficient VariDryBLUE dryer. Shanghai Zuotian Industrial Company was one of several to snap up a Rapida 75E. Orders were also booked at Print China for the Rapida 66 and Genius 52 UV.
Jiangsu Henghua Media in Zhenjiang ordered four Rapida 105 litho presses and two 16pp Compacta 215 commercial presses as part of a €10m-plus investment package. One of the 16pp presses is currently being brought on stream at the Hong Kong operation of Switzerland's Ringier Group.