Innovation in depth key for KBA

With sales of its sheetfed presses exploding sixfold over the past dozen years, KBA has come a long way since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now makes a remarkable variety of presses, including classic offset machines, digital presses, waterless, keyless and launched one with a new inking system.

The new press on show was the world premiere of the Rapida 74 G (Gravuflow) waterless, keyless unit-type press, which has just five cylinders from the ink cartridge to the impression cylinder.

KBA showed a raft of new features, some of them exclusive such as shaftless feeders for medium- to large-format presses, sidelay-free infeed on the new 18,000sph Rapida 105, Qualitronic II inline sheet inspection system, which KBA says highlightes the rapid pace at which its sheetfed offset division drives innovation. More new products are already in the pipeline.

Waterless pioneers Marks-3zet and Toray decided to exhibit KBA presses to their stands, in the form of the innovative Genius 52 and the new Rapida 74 G.

Increases in applications are a key thrust of KBA presses, with all sheetfed presses upping the print products. The Rapida 74 for instance can now print on 1mm carton, plastic and G-flute, while the Rapida 105 has been extended to print on substrates up to 1.2mm thick including F-flute and G-flute.

New in commercial web is the Compacta 217 16-page commercial web offset press, which the company says incorporates a string of advances to established features including minigaps, Drivetronic totally shaftless drives, perfect imprinting with standard printing units, automated gripper and pin folders, automatic and semi-automatic plate changing, and superstructures based on gravure know-how.

Like new presses from MAN Roland and Heidelberg the Compacta 217 runs at 70,000cph, with KBA hoping that the new press combined with the sale of Heidelberg web to Goss will enable to raise its market share in commercial web, which currently stands in single figures.

With customary honesty, KBA’s president and CEO Albrect Bolza-Schuenemann kicked off drupa with a print market appraisal that called on printers to recognise that the era of print as a craft activity was over. He invited printers to move into the process automation era, and told them the industry needs to rediscover its strengths and redefine its role with new confidence, display more openness towards genuine innovation and respond more sensitively to changes in media consumption and communication.

He says, “Grumbling and price dumping will not solve the issues confronting us. The graphic arts industry urgently needs to change its mindset from down-and-out to get-up-and-go. It is up to us to win over users and suppliers to essential changes for raising print’s profile in the media arena.” He urged all those involved to work with, not against, each other.

Casting a swipe at PrintCity he underscored KBA’s partnership credentials, noting alliances with players including ABB, Akzo Nobel, Bäuerle, ContiTech, Creo, EAE, Epple, Hiflex, Huber, HumanEyes, Marks-3zet, Müller Martini, Presstek, Rogler, Siemens, Sun Chemical and Toray. He claims that tags like “Print City” are not a prerequisite for genuine cross-platform collaboration and cutting-edges advances.

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