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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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