The zen drupa virtual events continue

Postpress Alliance opens post-Drexit showroom


Event organizers and booth designers are having a hard time. Trade events keep getting postponed – even those that had already moved from 2020 to 2021. Both the London Book Fair and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair recently decided to move further, from March next year to June. The Koelnmesse’s Photokina has been suspended altogether ‘until further notice.’ Interpack and Drupa are still on the postponed agenda, but with a shrinking list of exhibitors.

One of the clusters that pulled out of Drupa is the Postpress Alliance, which united several finishing-equipment manufacturers earlier this year. It decided to hold its own event at the premises of one of its partners, Hohner, in the south of Germany.

Given the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the Alliance skipped the open house event. Instead, it organized a ‘Virtual Showroom’ on the four days from 24 to 27 November, where interested parties had the opportunity to interact with live demonstrations and could also make individual appointments. The Postpress Alliance spans MBO and H+H, both taken over by Komori and BaumannPerfecta, Wohlenberg,
Bograma, and Hohner. In much of Europe, the Alliance is represented by Wifac. In the heyday of heavy metal letterpress and offset, MBO and Wohlenberg were closely linked to MAN Roland, whereas their direct competitors Polar-Mohr and Stahl-Brehmer had already joined the Heidelberg family before they were fully integrated into its portfolio. In the meantime, digital printing technologies led to the emergence and growth of other large finishing-equipment manufacturers, particularly from Asia.

Originally planned to be unveiled at Drupa 2020, many equipment developments by the Alliance’s partner companies were presented in its ‘Virtual Showroom’ combining various modular units powered by standard MIS networking functionalities.

MBO Postpress Solutions, now part of the Komori Group, showcased the K80 combi-folding machine for sheets up to 70 x 100 cm (B1) and the CoBo-Stack de-stacking robot. The K80 for medium to high print runs is available in an automated and a manual version and can be used with a palletized pile feeder or a continuous feeder, with speeds of up to 230 meters per minute. Also on MBO’s virtual stand – four other versions of MBO’s K-folder range, the A80 stacking machine for the production of up to 4-up signatures, and the KT90 curved table for folder feeding lines.

H+H, also part of the Komori Group, had a mailing line on show, including the new M7.32 outsert folder, vacuum transport system, rotary diecutter, and a double stream alignment table. The system has been developed for particular market segments such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, food, and agricultural products. The outsert folder
with 24 buckle plates and a working width of 60 cm is equipped with an MBO slitter shaft cassette for easy operator access.

H+H showed four other new folders. A knife/buckle-plate combination folding station, the KBT60P, interfaced at the show with a new Multivac L350 labeler and SmartPACK100 automatic tray packer; a parallel-knife folder, the XPPECO150, with the new integrated belt press PP600; the S45 Miniature folding machine, and the M9.60 automatic folding machine for widths up to 60 cm in a 16-plate and a 24-plate version.

Hohner celebrated its 90th anniversary and presented a range of modular units on the Hohner Hybrid Stitcher HSS Futura 5, including a trimmer/stitcher, a saddle stitcher with four types of feeders, a cross folder, a scoring and plow folding foldstitcher, a collater, and a digital printing unit with different feeder options. Hohner showed two other folders, the HSB 9.000 and the fully automated HSB 13.000, with trimmer, compensating stacker stitching units, and four different modular feeding systems. Hohner emphasized the development of HHS 42/6 narrow stitching heads for 13,000 stitches per hour on the HSB 13.000.

Baumann Perfecta focused its virtual presence on a range of fully automatic high-speed jogging and cutting guillotines based on the company’s automatic shaker system BASA and with CutTronic cutting software, available in cutting widths between 80 and 225 mm.

Bograma presented a compact rotary diecutter, the BSR 550 Basic, with speeds of up to 8,000 cycles per hour and suitable for die-cutting, kiss cutting, creasing, perforating, and embossing of various products from both offset and digital printing. Bograma also showcased a folding carton production system including two rotary die-cutters, one for
creasing and one for subsequent die-cutting, as well as an STA 550R stacker and SH 550 trimming waste shredder. In addition, the company launched an automated card deck production system based on the BSR 550 for inline die-cutting, collating, stacking, and cellophane wrapping of playing cards, parlor cards, trading cards, and sports cards.

Owned by the BaumannPerfecta group, Wohlenberg based its presentation on the D09 threshing cutter combined with a new version of its compact Quickbinder perfect-binding line. The latest version is equipped with a conveyor-belt system connecting a three-knife trimmer, gluing units, gathering units, and optional corner turntables and barcode readers. The Quickbinder Edition Digital is meant for large format and short-run jobs. It has an automated Delta-10 engine enabling the production of books, booklets, and magazines in different thicknesses from one clamp to the next.

At this point, attendance numbers for the Postpress Alliance’s “Virtual Showroom” aren’t available. Still, it is expected that the online show will continue to be accessed and that this kind of digital alternatives to physical trade fair booths will increasingly be part of the marketing mix of manufacturers and their dealers.

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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