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drupa 2012: Offsetting Digital’s Advance

Digital printing wasn't the only game in town at drupa 2012. The show featured a host of new lithographic presses.

June 2012 By Mark Michelson
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Digital inkjet printers on display seemingly everywhere, let alone all the buzz surrounding Benny Landa and his Nanographic Printing process, may have captured many of the headlines during drupa 2012, but that doesn't mean there weren't a host of new lithographic press introductions, technology demonstrations and productivity enhancements shown within the stands of traditional press manufacturers.

For example, several Heidelberg offset printing press models debuted in Hall 1. A new eight-color, 41˝, "Peak Performance Class" Speedmaster XL 106 perfector ran substrates up to 0.039˝ thick at 18,000 sph in both straight and perfecting modes. Its straightforward operation and the interplay between preset functions, ink presettings, simultaneous plate changing with AutoPlate XL and Prinect Inpress Control make the press up to 30 percent more productive than the Speedmaster XL 105 and reduce washup times by 30 percent.

For short- and very-short-run color offset jobs, Heidelberg unveiled its Anicolor zoneless short inking unit in a larger press size, by showcasing a five-color, 29˝ Speedmaster XL 75 with Anicolor inking unit. Advantages include 90 percent less paper waste, 50 percent shorter makeready times and 50 percent higher productivity. Also new was an eight-color Speedmaster SX 102 series perfector.

Center stage in Hall 1—which incorporated 3,500 printing plates hung throughout as design elements for a stunning visual effect—was Heidelberg's Performance Services Center. Among the new options offered are Energy Efficiency management consulting services and Remote Monitoring that provides continuous, Web-based preventative monitoring and analysis of equipment.

"We were very pleased with the outstanding sales success across our entire product portfolio, including sales of our newly launched XL 106 press to many U.S. customers, several who have converted from competitive brands," noted Harald Weimer, president of Heidelberg USA. "We were also happy to see our customers demonstrating their understanding of the value of a sharp focus on overall shop productivity. Together, we take this as proof of a significantly improved momentum in the North American market."

KBA's 37,700-square-foot stand also featured several new presses, including the 57˝ Rapida 145 running at speeds to 17,000 sph (15,000 sph perfecting). The six-color with coater drupa model featured DriveTronic SIS sidelay-free infeed; DriveTronic SPC dedicated drives that support simultaneous plate changes in 60 seconds; the CleanTronic Synchro system that simultaneously washes inking rollers, blankets and impression cylinders during plate changing; and several other quick-makeready enhancements. The Rapida 145 is targeted toward commercial, book, Internet and package printers.

KBA's 41˝ Rapida 106 also received a productivity boost with maximum speeds to 20,000 sph in straight mode (18,000 sph perfecting). New features include DriveTronic SFC simultaneous coating form change, AniloxLoader automatic screen roller change, an optimized AirTronic delivery, and the new ErgoTronic console with a wall screen and new quality control modules.

Also, the new Rapida 76 is capable of speeds to 18,000 sph (15,000 sph perfecting); the Genius 52 UV is now available with optional envelope feeder and split-color printing capability; and the new Varius 80 waterless UV offset rollfed press is suited for flexible packaging.

"While overall attendance from North American printers was below the previous drupa figures, we were busy all day long and even through dinner with decision makers looking to continue their investment in new KBA technology," reported Mark Hischar, president and CEO of KBA North America. "KBA exhibited nine operating presses, each with breakthrough technology."

Komori showcased its "Offset OnDemand" concept with two sheetfed presses: an eight-color Lithrone G40P perfector and a five-color Lithrone S29. They featured KHS-AI integrated control systems for high-speed print startup and the ability to get to color within 20 sheets, coupled with the fast drying delivered by the H-UV curing system that enables immediate postpress processing of quick-turnaround jobs.

In-Line Sheet Inspection

The Lithrone G40P was also equipped with Komori's Asynchronous Automatic Plate changing (A-APC) system, which changes all plates in only 75 seconds, and the In-line Print Quality Assessment System (PQA-S). PQA-S not only inspects print quality on the front and back sides of the sheets simultaneously, it also enables in-line density control by scanning the color bar. Three short-run, 200-sheet jobs were set up as press demonstrations, and jobs coming off-press were produced as booklets on Standard Horizon finishing equipment in just eight minutes.

Komori also launched its newest offset press, the Lithrone GLX40 carton press. This 41˝ press handles substrates from 8-pt. to 40-pt. board, and can be equipped with a nonstop feeder and delivery. At drupa, the GLX40 was equipped with Komori's H-UV curing system that further enhances the carton production process by delivering bindery-ready sheets. 

Komori's PDC-SX Spectral Print Density Controller, which measures densities and colors by automatically detecting the color bar located anywhere vertically on the sheet, was demonstrated, as well. PDC-SX also detects register errors through the use of a special mark and handles front/back register control. In addition, the new Komori Info-Services Display (KID)-a multi-informational system that displays a host of information on a 50˝ backscreen, including the operating status of the press-was featured.

The Enthrone 29P convertible perfector press also debuted. Available in configurations up to five units, the small-footprint Enthrone 29P can handle a maximum sheet size of 20-7⁄8x29-17⁄32˝ and has a maximum print speed of 13,000 sph.

"We believe that drupa 2012 is a turning point in our industry," said Kosh Miyao, president and COO of Komori America. "With the variety of equipment on display in the Komori stand, there was literally something to satisfy every need in the marketplace."

Mitsubishi demonstrated its energy-saving ecoUV drying system and Diamond Eye-S in-line quality control system that measures both color density and dot variations. These new systems were equipped on a five-color Diamond V3000LS sheetfed press.

Aside from several new screen cylinder presses, Sakurai displayed its new 580SDC, a 23-5⁄8x31-1⁄8˝, five-color offset press equipped with coater and extended delivery.

Ferrostaal Equipment Solutions North America, the distributor for Ryobi presses that now oversees a network comprising 17 dealers with 40 salespeople and 60 service technicians, showcased an eight-color version of its eight-up Ryobi 920 series perfector running at 16,000 sph. Three intermediate drums provide consistent reversal of sheets and high-reliability sheet transfer. The drupa press was also equipped with an instant LED-UV curing system that reduces energy consumption by as much as 75 percent in comparison to conventional dryers, according to John Torrey, president.

Also spotlighted was a five-color Ryobi 755G (now offered up to a 10-color version), a fully loaded, six-up press with coating unit and LED-UV curing unit that handles a range of substrates at speeds to 16,000 sph. Chemical embossed printing was demonstrated with a LED-UV curing unit installed in the delivery unit and a pre-curing LED-UV unit between the print units. Printing on 3D plastic honeycomb micro allay lens sheets was shown, as well.

For small- and medium-size operations, a five-color Ryobi 525GX with coating and IR curing units was featured. The two-up press runs at up to 15,000 sph.

In addition, Ryobi's new UV Casting and Foiling System has been developed for the 42˝ Ryobi 1050 series packaging press to handle holograms/special effects, foiling and chemical embossed printing. During the show, security printing through anti-forgery holograms, including hidden and micro text, as well as 3-D hologram patterns, was featured. The UV Casting and Foiling System is also available on the 750 series presses.

Package printing was also emphasized by manroland sheetfed, which was acquired by British industrialist Tony Langley and Langley Holdings in February. The eight-color Roland 700 HiPrintLV in its stand was equipped with the new indexed InlineFoiler that saves up to 55 percent on cold foil consumption; automated, operator-free plate changers; the Inline ColorPilot D+F print quality measuring system, which uses both densitometry and colorimetry; the 2.0 version of InlineInspector, with PDF verification down to 4-pt. text; a special cardboard package; UV interdeck and end-of-press drying; and non-stop feeder and delivery systems. 

Meeting the Need for Speed

For 18,000 sph productivity, the Roland 700 HiPrint HS (HighSpeed) is available with a different feeder and delivery system than the standard HiPrint press. 

Commercial printing innovations announced included LEC-UV (low energy curing), 64-page printing in a single pass on the Roland 900XXL perfecting press, and a new press console design and user interface. 

"This drupa was one I will always remember, as manroland sheetfed was at a crossroad regarding our attendance only two months prior to the exhibition," noted Michael Mugavero, newly named manroland sheetfed managing director and CEO for the United States and Canada. "Under the leadership and inspiration of Mr. Langley, the traditional planning processes of what was manroland in past times was put aside in favor of a solution-driven team that quickly focused on the objectives and made our drupa presence come together in a remarkably short period of time."

Similarly, drupa was a coming-out party for manroland web systems, now owned by the Possehl Group. Highlights included further developments in its autoprint "One Touch" newspaper and commercial heatset web press operating concept that allows press operators to control the entire printing press from a central console. 

The ControlCenter features a ControlPad touchscreen; a SlidePad touchscreen for quality management; a portable, wireless MobilPad mobile control console; and a portable UnitPad touchscreen that replaces large control keypads on the individual printing units.

Goss International separated its booth into three primary zones, including commercial offset, newspapers and packaging, as well as an area devoted to its Lifetime Support service offerings. Orders for 11 Goss web presses were reportedly signed during the show.

A packaging theater was the centerpiece of the booth, attracting large audiences for demonstrations of the all-new Goss Sunday Vpak variable sleeve web offset press units for folding carton, film and label applications. Press units from the world's first 96-page web press-the Goss Sunday 5000-and the new Goss Colorliner CPS compact newspaper press were also featured, along with units from the new high-speed, single-width Goss Magnum HPS model and the new-generation, 16-page, M-600 model.

"We accomplished what we set out to do at drupa, which was to introduce our customers to innovative ideas for commercial print, packaging and newspaper production, and to demonstrate that we are the strong technology and market leader," said Goss International President and CEO Jochen Meissner.

Goss International's focus on the package printing market was a recurring theme for most of the offset press manufacturers exhibiting at drupa 2012. Just as striking was the emphasis given to standalone digital press and hybrid offset/digital offerings. 

These two trends reflect:

  1. That the packaging market is considered more recession-proof than commercial printing.
  2. A desire to expand their digital product portfolios to meet the growing industry shift toward short-run, on-demand print production. 

Nevertheless, although conventional offset still dominates the printing industry from a total printed page production standpoint, lithographic and digital printing technologies will coexist for years to come. Anyone who was able to actually trek all 19 halls within the massive drupa fairgrounds could readily see that. IPG



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