Koenig & Bauer’s new high-end Rapida 76

New design and outstanding automation

With a printing output of up to 18,000 sheets per hour, the Rapida 76 is built for speed Photo K&B
With a printing output of up to 18,000 sheets per hour, the Rapida 76 is built for speed Photo K&B

K&B has just released a new generation of the Rapida 76 sheetfed offset press. The B2 press (standard sheet format 530 x 750 mm; special format 605 x 750 mm) has a high level of automation, a minimal footprint, and peak printing speeds of up to 18,000 sheets an hour.

Automation functions characterize the Rapida 76 as an extremely efficient press, with high-performance features including DriveTronic dedicated drive components, which eliminate gear systems and provide for both simple handling and parallel processes during job changeovers and make-ready. There are full preset capabilities of all press functions and the ErgoTronic console with a wall screen. The Rapida 76 has additional decentralized touchscreens for maximum ease of operation.

Highly configurable Rapida 76

For as many different applications as possible, up to 11 printing and finishing units can be combined to configure a Rapida 76 for specific production needs. That could mean a ten-color press with an automatically convertible perfecting unit for 5 + 5 production – possibly together with an additional coating tower to allow printing of covers, for example – or packaging presses with double-coating facilities for the production of pharmaceutical packaging.

Further variants incorporate raised foundations to accommodate higher piles with board substrates or various delivery extensions for coating applications. Ink duct dividers can also be chosen to enable rainbow printing. Thanks to a comprehensive range of measuring systems and optional facilities for inline sheet inspection, the Rapida 76 can be configured for many special applications, including the production of security documents.

The new press is no less flexible when it comes to compatibility with different ink and coating systems. It handles both conventional and UV inks and coatings with equal ease. Beside IR/hot-air drying systems, various UV, HR-UV and LED-UV systems are also available.

Special K&B features

The Rapida 76 offers unique features that benefit users in their daily work but are not yet common in most half-format size presses. Inking units that are not required for a particular job can be disengaged from the press drive. This reduces roller wear and cuts make-ready times. When production is to be resumed, the units concerned are re-engaged at the press of a button.

On the Rapida 76, unbent plates can also be mounted, irrespective of whether an automated or simultaneous plate changing system is in use. This feature was introduced on the new K&B Rapida B1 press in June at the K&B Live virtual demonstrations. It will likely permit even higher automation of the press room if needed.

With simultaneous plate changing, all the plates on the Rapida 76 can be changed in just 45 seconds. In combination with CleanTronic Synchro, the blankets and impression cylinders and the ink rollers – can be washed parallel to plate changing. This shortens make-ready times dramatically and leaves much more time for actual production. The same applies to automated coating forme changes.

Simultaneous SPC plate changing with unbent plates Photo K&B
Simultaneous SPC plate changing with unbent plates Photo K&B

Wide range of measuring and control systems

Application-orientated measuring and control systems contribute to faster make-ready, reduced waste, and consistently high and stable print quality. The Rapida 76 can be configured with systems for register measurement and control, color control and sheet inspection. All inline systems operate with a common camera, which reduces maintenance requirements and simplifies handling.

The one camera system can be configured to perform up to three functions – color control, sheet inspection and PDF comparisons Photo K&B
The one camera system can be configured to perform up to three functions – color control, sheet inspection and PDF comparisons Photo K&B

In a full-featured setup, ErgoTronic ICR controls the register by way of a single sheet placed on the console, while QualiTronic ColorControl provides for convenient color adjustment. The camera system installed after the last printing or coating unit or after the last unit before perfecting automatically determines the optical densities. It controls the ink keys without further intervention. As an option, the system can be expanded to implement color control according to grey balance (QualiTronic InstrumentFlight). QualiTronic PDFCheck carries out the inspection of the printed sheets and comparison with the customer’s PDF as the basis for uncompromising quality.

Digital services at the press of a button

Many digital services surrounding the Rapida 76 help reduce unplanned downtimes, facilitate convenient and barrier-free maintenance of the press, and permit anonymous comparisons of important performance parameters with other presses in identical configurations. The options range from PressCall for optimization of communication with remote maintenance engineers and VisualPressSupport to enable a better description of the reason for a remote maintenance call. The remote support functions use photos (with extensive commenting functions), texts, videos, and audio, via Performance Reports and Press Inspection Reports, through to the first instances of predictive services based on artificial intelligence methods.

In this context, the Customer Community is a central point of contact bringing all service offers together under one roof. Users and the manufacturer have access to an identical information database, meaning that they are all on the same page.

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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