Following a packed pre-Drupa event at its Radebeul facility in March, on its 3,500m² (37,700ft²) stand in hall 16 Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) showcased a raft of new digital and offset launches at Drupa under the banner “sprinting ahead”. They included new, highly automated sheetfed offset presses for all formats, a litho press with integrated inkjet printing device, new web offset newspaper and packaging presses, and an inkjet web press, the KBA RotaJET 76. So 200 years after the company’s two founders built the world’s first mechanical printing press KBA is expanding into high-volume digital print.
Bolza-Schünemann: KBA will actively shape the future of print
At the KBA press conference on the first day of the show KBA president and CEO Claus Bolza-Schünemann noted that the 15th Drupa is taking place in an unsettled economic climate and that technological advances, online services, internet printers and digital print are accelerating change in the print media industry. He said: “The cards are being reshuffled in the market. The initial confrontation between online and print media, and between analogue and digital printing, is evolving into a constructive coexistence. We aim to continue actively shaping print’s future through innovation. ‘Digital joins offset’ is a core message on the KBA stand. Our entry into digital print does not signal our exit from sheetfed or web offset, but is the only way we can offer customers impartial advice on the best press for their needs. The ongoing consolidation in the sector will enable us to exploit our specific strengths to boost our market standing still further.”
Head of marketing Klaus Schmidt emphasised that the “sprinting ahead” slogan, the smorgasbord of new products exhibited and the undiminished size of the KBA stand compared to 2008 underscore the group’s confidence that the prospects for print are bright even in today’s multimedia environment.
RotaJET 76: high-volume inkjet made by KBA
Developed by offset experts in collaboration with a US print major, the RotaJET 76 is the only high-volume digital web press built in Germany (at KBA’s main factory in Würzburg). It has a maximum web speed of 150 metres (500ft) per minute, a 781mm (30.7in) wide web and can output up to 3,000 four-colour A4 pages per minute (some 85 million per month) in an outstanding inkjet quality. According to Oliver Baar, the longstanding project manager for digital printing systems, it unites innovative precision engineering, high-powered hardware and software and cutting-edge piezo inkjet technology to create an industrial-scale production tool for short runs and personalised prints. “If KBA is on the box, then KBA is inside,” added Bolza-Schünemann with a fleeting reference to OEM products sold under other names.
The RotaJET initially targets the book, brochure, commercial, direct mail and magazine sectors, with packaging and newspapers to follow. Transaction printing is of less interest because the medium-term prospects are uncertain and there are already plenty of vendors. In addition to the high print quality the press delivers Oliver Baar pointed out that its more robust and compact design compared to similar presses, its reliability, intelligent web lead and thus good registration, one-man operation and its ability to deliver saleable copies even during start-up and run-down can deliver perceptible bottom-line benefits. The two arrays of 56 printing heads that arch over the two large central impression cylinders can be moved aside for cleaning and maintenance purposes. The printheads are automatically aligned (or “stitched”, since the configuration resembles back-stitching) and cleaned. The system has a native print resolution of 600dpi. The ability to vary droplet size is an additional quality bonus. Internal systems communications and the integration of third-party systems are JDF-enabled. Visitors to Drupa can see demonstrations of variable production based on the popular APPE (Adobe PDF Print Engine) workflow. With its powerful front-end kit the RotaJET can handle large volumes of data at maximum speed in full-colour production.