KBA at Ipex in the run up to the World Cup

Lively gathering of the “Champions in Print”

Germany is hosting the World Cup this summer, and it was the dominant theme on the spacious KBA stand in hall 4 at Ipex in Birmingham. Not surprisingly, it was also reflected in the group’s banner, “KBA: Champions in Print”, and the print samples produced on its three sheetfed offset presses (B3, B2 and B1) using JDF workflows. As the World Cup approaches, enthusiasm in England – the country where the game originated – is reaching fever pitch.

The excitement surrounding the World Cup in Germany and the slogan “Champions in Print” provided the backdrop for many activities on the 1,300m² (14,000ft²) KBA stand at Ipex (1)
Impressive advances in sheet offset

In keeping with the group slogan, presentations at the Ipex press conference by KBA president and CEO Albrecht Bolza-Schünemann, marketing director Klaus Schmidt and KBA (UK) managing director Christian Knapp underscored KBA’s claim to the broadest and most advanced product range in the industry. They also cited a laundry list of technological features and processes that give KBA a unique advantage in many sectors, generating above-average growth over the past ten years (most notably in sheetfed offset) and making the group a “secret” industry champion. Group sales climbed by 13.9% to €1.62bn in 2005. The success of the ultra-modern B2, B1, large- and superlarge-format presses launched at the last Drupa boosted sheetfed offset revenue by an impressive 14.2% to €817.6m, moving KBA up to the number two slot behind Heidelberg in terms of pure press sales (excluding consumables, which some other players in the industry include in their consolidated financial results). Since KBA is already well-established in the web press market (newspaper, commercial and publication rotogravure presses), the group decided not to exhibit any web presses in Birmingham. Instead, a series of showcase events is being scheduled in coming months to promote the pioneering advances it has made in web technology. Show schedules are no longer the only factor determining product launches.

At the Ipex press conference KBA president and CEO Albrecht Bolza-Schünemann revealed that another prominent newspaper publisher in Germany has ordered a waterless KBA Cortina newspaper press very similar to the Cortina at the Badische Zeitung in Freiburg (Black Forest) , which went into operation in early February 2006. Details will be published shortly after Ipex (9)
Rapida 105: 5-over-5 web-to-sheet perfecting and two-sided inline quality control

One of the attractions at Ipex was a high-automation KBA Rapida 105, an 18,000sph ten-colour B1 (40in) press with an RS 105 reel-to-sheet feeder, which demonstrated its high productivity in 5-over-5. A 32-page World Cup guide perfect-printed on 150gsm (40lb bond) paper and a football packaging printed on G-flute showed that this long perfector can handle a wide range of substrates (2)

A focus of interest for sheetfed printers at Ipex was a Rapida 105 ten-colour perfector with sheeter. The only 18,000sph B1 press on the market with autoconvertible perfecting, the new Rapida 105 is in action worldwide in various configurations ranging from classic five-colour presses, five- or six-colour hybrid and UV presses, two-coater presses, and perfectors with up to 15 units and perfect inline coating.

Video/live presentation at the Rapida 105 ten-colour perfector with reel-to-sheet unit on the KBA stand at Ipex (10)

Alongside some unique features such as a no-sidelay SIS infeed and a whole range of automation modules to reduce makeready time, KBA also unveiled a world first: inline quality control on both sides of the sheet with two camera-based KBA QualiTronic sheet inspection systems mounted in front of the perfecting unit and after the final printing unit. This is a useful option when printing upmarket fashion magazines, elaborate business reports or illustrated books, or perfecting on costly substrates.

Inline density measurement with KBA DensiTronic S

The two integrated QualiTronic inspection systems in the Rapida 105 at Ipex also demonstrated another KBA first: inline colour density measurement on both sides on the sheet. KBA says the next step could be a Fogra-compliant closed-loop colour control system. At Ipex this function was assumed by a KBA DensiTronic S colour control system with an online link to the machine console.

World premiere: KBA demonstrated inline sheet-inspection on both sides of the sheet – including measurement of colour density at full production speed – with two QualiTronic camera-based systems mounted in front of the perfecting unit and after the final printing unit in a ten-colour Rapida 105 perfector (3)

The ten-colour perfector printed a 32-page A5 World Cup guide containing interesting information on the various German cities that will host the games, World Cup team posters and a World Cup calendar on 150gsm (40lb bond) paper from the reel. Straight printing on G-flute at high speed demonstrated the press’s unique flexibility. After the show the 105 will ship to Arkle Print in Northampton.

Performa 74: good performance, attractive price

The World Cup guide and football posters printed on a long Rapida 105, World Cup postcards off a Performa 74 and lenticular prints off a Genius 52UV were soon snapped up by the hordes of football fans (4)

The B2 (29in) press exhibited on the KBA stand – a Performa 74 five-colour anilox coater press built by a group subsidiary KBA-Grafitec – is the first of its kind in the UK. The press was mainly used to produce postcards with football themes. The Performa 74 and its sister, the Performa 66 (an SRA2 press for the price of an A3 model), address the low-budget end of the market yet deliver a high level of performance. Besides the double-size impression and transfer cylinders which are typical of KBA presses, Performa 74 models are available with up to six printing units plus anilox coater. Other options include semi-automatic plate change, ink temperature control, roller and blanket washing, nonstop facilities at the infeed and delivery, and a control console incorporating a JDF interface plus an online link to an X-Rite densitometer.

The Performa 74’s debut at a UK trade fair was a focus of interest among print professionals (11)

KBA added the Performa 74 to its B2 range of high-performance presses (Rapida 74, Rapida 74 G and 74 Karat DI press) in order to target small printshops operating on a tight budget that often do not need the level of automation offered by an 18,000sph press like the Rapida 74.

A five-colour coater version of the KBA Performa 74 B2 (29in) ranged alongside a high-performance Rapida 74, Rapida 74 G and 74 Karat DI press. The entry-level Performa 74 is an attractive alternative for companies with a limited budget (5)
Genius 52UV: small format film and lenticular press with ink-jet personalisation

When the prototype of the B3 (20½in) Genius 52 was unveiled at Ipex 2002, its unusual design caused a minor sensation. Now a mature product, the UV version has been a worldwide success, enabling KBA-Metronic to carve out a niche in a crowded market. More than 50 UV presses in a wide range of configurations (four or five colours with or without coater and with application-specific delivery extensions) have been shipped so far. Customers use them to print plastic cards and film (advertising material, lenticulars etc), board and even 0.1 - 0.8mm (4 - 32pt) paper. In Birmingham KBA-Metronic demonstrated a five-colour coater version with UV lamps in the delivery.

When the small-format Genius 52 was first unveiled at Ipex 2002, its unusual design caused a minor sensation. The little Genius 52 has grown up in the meantime, and especially KBA-Metronic’s UV version, which is somewhat unusual in this format class, has become a popular choice around the world for cards, film, board and lenticulars. The quality of the lenticulars produced on the five-colour Genius 52UV at Ipex was simply outstanding (6)
Ipex premiere: KBA-Metronic demonstrated ink-jet personalisation in sheetfed offset on the Genius 52 UV using their freely programmable AlphaJet C continuous ink-jet system which could also be used for unit-built Rapida presses, eg for marking waste sheets in conjunction with a KBA QualiTronic inline sheet-inspection system


The Genius 52 is both waterless and keyless. Other outstanding features include ultra-low start-up waste of just a few sheets, rapid job changes and a superb, ghosting-free image. A matt or gloss UV coating is applied to the sheet inline, and the sheet is ready for use immediately after impression. This is the ideal tool for short runs, and great news for small-format and digital printshops wishing to extend their portfolio into non-standard areas so as to target more discerning customers. The high quality of the lenticular and film jobs printed, which were run in a single-pass on the Genius 52 UV with almost no start-up waste, conveyed a clear message. The Genius also demonstrated KBA-Metronic’s new ink-jet system for the inline personalisation of individual sheets.

Universys: an example of a successful KBA niche strategy

To boost growth from operations in the major core segments of the graphics industry, Koenig & Bauer has acquired a number of specialist producers over the past five years (KBA-GIORI in the security sector, Bauer + Kunzi in the metal decorating sector and KBA-Metronic in the UV offset and ink-jet/laser coding sector) as part of its highly successful strategy of exploiting profitable niche markets. KBA-Metronic’s Universys illustrates the breadth of KBA’s portfolio and is a product which, a few short years ago, no-one would have expected to find on a KBA stand. The Universys is an automatic system for personalising gift cards, membership cards, prepaid cards etc by adding pin numbers, barcodes, serial numbers, scratch-off fields and personal data. An integrated security system conceals sensitive data from prying eyes. The Universys is module-based and can be configured with a choice of features like ink-jet marking (CIJ or DOD), hot stamping, labelling, magnetic strips and RFID coding to support customisation. It can handle PVC, ABS and 0.25 to 0.80mm (19 - 32pt) stock at a maximum output of 14,000 cards an hour. At Ipex, cards pre-printed on the Genius 52UV were personalised on the Universys.

KBA-Metronic also exhibited a Universys, which is a fine example of what KBA is doing in lucrative niche markets. The Universys is a fully automatic modular system which adds pin numbers, barcodes, serial numbers, scratch-off fields and personal data to individualise the gift cards, prepaid cards, membership cards, etc which are now so popular. Besides ink-jet (CIJ and DOD), the options include hot stamping, labelling, magnetic strips and RFID encoding. Maximum throughput is 14,000 cards per hour (8)
JDF networking with Kodak, Hiflex and Rogler

Kodak’s new medium-format Magnus 800 V thermal platesetter featuring automatic plate feed was unveiled in the Pre-press Centre on the KBA stand and produced plates for the Rapida 105 and Performa 74. These included Kodak’s new Thermal Direct processless plates, which were occasionally used on the Performa 74. Both presses were embedded into a JDF workflow via a KBA LogoTronic Professional production management system. Prinergy Workflow provided network connectivity for Kodak pre-press. Kodak, Hiflex and Rogler MIS systems were integrated using SynapsLink. Visitors to Ipex also had the opportunity to learn all about KBA’s ServiceTronic 24-hour worldwide remote service capability.

Scoring goals for the Champions in Print

Press demonstrations on the KBA stand and goal scoring contests during the breaks attracted considerable attention. The winners of the contests received a leather “Champions in Print” ball, and every user or purchaser of a KBA press who was present in Birmingham also went home with one of these coveted prizes. A shuttle service was available for visitors interested in seeing a large-format press in action at packaging printer Clifford Press in nearby Coventry. Some overseas visitors took the opportunity to see VLF presses in action at three poster and display printers in London or to have a look at other presses which are part of KBA’s extensive installed base in England.


Press release (RTF)