Swing to offset for some poster and display companies
KBA, a leading manufacturer of offset presses has published a report that details the swing by some large poster companies going to offset to stay competitive. Is their room in our market for such a hungry beast?
The superior competence and market leadership of KBA in the large format sector have been undisputed for decades, and since drupa 2004 have even been extended further to embrace also the breathtaking dimensions of the superlarge or XXLplus format.
Business in the markets for the largest sheetfed offset formats can certainly be said to be thriving. More and more poster and display printers are installing the giant Rapida presses alongside wide-format inkjet installations from NUR or screen printing systems from Thieme. It seems that screen printers, in particular, have in the meantime discovered the enormous productivity and profitability benefits embodied in superlarge-format sheetfed offset. After all, despite the recognised strengths of the screen printing process, the technology is finding it increasingly difficult to defend its market shares in the face of ever shorter delivery deadlines and mounting pressure on the attainable prices. It is probably only a question of time before 2-metre offset presses achieve a real breakthrough also in packaging printing. All that is still missing is the correspondingly modern equipment for finishing and conversion. In the somewhat more down-to-earth and less quality-critical corrugated board industry, there are already plenty of flexo presses with inline rotary die-cutting for sheet widths of 3 metres, so what stands in the way of 2-metre offset presses for folding cartons in the near future? Looking at the giant Rapidas, there are certainly no obstacles in terms of print quality and press performance.
Trend towards long presses and inline finishing
World's largest super-Rapida in production in Tennessee
The world's largest super-Rapida to date, a seven-colour press with coating and drying towers, 30 m long, 3.7 m high and weighing 272 tonnes – to be seen here during acceptance testing in the Radebeul assembly hall – is in the meantime the pride and joy of the National Print Group, Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Hard-fought battles for PoS market shares in Great Britain
Two Rapida 205 press lines are already in operation at Capital Print & Display’s new production plant in London.
NSL in Newcastle was the first pure screen printer to take the plunge into 2-metre sheetfed offset. The venture has proved so successful, that further investments in KBA presses are on the cards. NSL managing director Duncan Hesse is convinced that the Rapida 205 is perfectly designed for the format used by screen printers, making it a relatively simple matter to switch work from one process to the other.
A high level of cost efficiency, even in short-run production, is prompting many former screen printers in Great Britain to switch to superlarge-format sheetfed offset.
A sheetfed offset giant by any standards
The Rapida 205 is not only big in size, it is equally big in performance. It can take up to 20 lorries just to deliver it to the installation site, and once up and running, its feeder pile alone can weigh over three tonnes! Boosting sheet format to an enormous 1510 x 2050 mm, the press incorporates all the key benefits of the practice-proven Rapida 162, such as the 7 o'clock cylinder arrangement, double-size impression cylinders, a shaftless feeder and fully automatic plate changing. With its printing speed of up to 9,000 sph, the maximum production output can be calculated at over 28,000 m² printed area per hour, corresponding to more than double the output of a high-performance medium-format press of the latest 18,000 sph generation. The relatively short inking train of the Rapida 205, with just 16 rollers, guarantees minimum start-up waste, short washing times and sheer unrivalled fast reactions, all of which are decisive factors where the majority of business is extremely short runs. An excellent substrate flexibility, permitting the handling of papers, display board, microflute, plastic film and metallised stocks in thicknesses from 0.1 mm to 1.6 mm, round off the list of benefits.
Screen printing versus offset
Screen printing presses, including a Thieme 5070 (on the right), operate alongside the two Rapida 205s at Capital.
Screen printing, he says, is under strong fire from offset, and also from digital print in the ultrashort-run segment. And with high-speed inkjet, yet another adversary is coming over the horizon. On other fronts, however, screen printing is making great progress, e.g. in circuit printing for electronics, in pharmaceuticals and in many areas of outside graphics.
Koenig & Bauer