The new K&B Rapida 106 X for commercial applications unveiled

K&B 106 X, The highest automation for sheetfed offset in the Zen drupa

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The K&B Live demonstration of the Rapida 106 X 8-color perfector for commercial applications Screenshot IPP
The K&B Live demonstration of the Rapida 106 X 8-color perfector for commercial applications Screenshot IPP

In its ongoing Koenig & Bauer Live event coinciding with the original dates for drupa 2020, 16 to 26 June 2020, the company unveiled a new B1 press for the packaging and commercial markets, the Rapida 106 X. The K&B event was part of a series of virtual events that we call ‘the zen drupa.’ The K&B Live streaming showed and explained the automated multicolor offset press that K&B would have demonstrated at the postponed event. While the company unveiled several products and technologies each working day during the live event, it also emphatically stated that it would take part in drupa 2021 next year.

On 25 June, the last day of the virtual Live event, the newly from the ground up designed Rapida 106 X 8-color perfector press was shown for commercial applications. The press was unveiled and demonstrated in a 30-minute time slot, making ready and printing eight signatures. These were complex jobs similar to what a web to print commercial printer using an 8-color perfector sheetfed press would do.

The first job was a brochure consisting of three signatures on offset paper, the second job was the K&B magazine printed on 150 gsm coated paper stock, and the last task was printing postcards on 300 gsm board stock. While demonstrating, it was emphasized that K&B’s new job optimizer looks at both the equipment configuration available and technical requirements of each signature to be printed, including paper loading and prints them in an optimized sequence rather than merely according to the MIS’s chronological list. This naturally decreases the wash-ups between jobs.

During the demonstration of the Rapida 106 X, there was a 7-minute saving in the makereadies in the total of 26 minutes taken for the eight jobs or signatures each printed on 300 sheets run at a speed of 20,000 sheets an hour. It takes only 1 minute for all eight plates to be changed simultaneously. Also shown during the event was a video of a customer who has installed a new plate logistical system that takes the plates from the CtP to a plate stacker. These are then picked up by an overhead conveyor transport system and brought over each print unit to be loaded automatically. The old plates are simultaneously taken out and away by the conveyors. The system and the press now use plates straight from the CtP, and there is no need to bend the plates.

On the press itself, there is a Qualitronic color control with a 4k camera for the measuring, control, and inspection of every sheet which can be compared with a master OK sheet or with a high-resolution customer approved PDF. All data is logged, and quality reports can be generated, and one presumes other analytics of defects as well.

The press has many new features, and K&B says it took five years to develop this press. There are innovations from feeder to the rollers in the units and right to the delivery and the console. The lights on the side frames give the status of the machine. There is a Rapida app that captures the press console on a smartphone. There are very interesting real-time calculations for press cost and overall OEE.

The new K&B Rapida 106 X is a press that has taken current technology to its practical limit in mechanization, automation, and information technology. In a way, it is a digital press that uses efficiently uses offset technology for the actual image transfer to the substrate. It is certainly viable for those who believe in print and in optimizing offset printing for very short runs at very high quality.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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