Just a few years ago, long sheetfed offset presses were often considered an exclusive domain of American printers. Today, however, this trend can be observed increasingly in the European packaging sector.
Superlative and record-breaking configurations are being supplied ever more frequently to users in Europe. Last year, for example, Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) installed a 19-unit Rapida 106 – the longest sheetfed offset press in the world to date – at Amcor Tobacco Packaging in Rickenbach, Switzerland. Another unusually long Rapida 106 will be ready for shipping in the next days, and will then be sent on its way to the Russian facility of a global packaging printer near St. Petersburg.
The double-coater Rapida 106 for Russia comprises 10 printing units, two coater towers and two dryer towers, ahead of a 3.8-metre extended delivery. It incorporates countless automation features geared to fast makeready, and practically all the optional components typical for a packaging setup: Board-handling accessories, foundations raised by 675 mm, pile logistics (underfloor) and automatic non-stop pile changing for feeder and delivery.
Sidelay-free infeed, FAPC automatic plate changers, inking unit temperature control, provisions for the alternating use of conventional and UV inks and coatings, variable installation points for UV interdeck dryers, CleanTronic Multi combined blanket, cylinder and roller washing for alternating ink systems, CleanTronic UV (facility for blanket washing with UV lamps in standby mode to eliminate waiting times before and after washing), and coating supply and cleaning systems for water-based and UV coatings with control from the ErgoTronic press console are all to be found on the long list of integrated equipment, alongside the energy-saving VariDryBLUE dryer system with IR/hot-air and UV dryers in the delivery and delivery extension. Despite the enormous length of 33.2 metres, the press is engineered for production speeds up to 15,000sph.
This high-tech press also possesses modern inline systems for quality control: The video camera ErgoTronic ACR takes care of register adjustment, while DensiTronic Professional is responsible for densitometric and spectral print quality measurement and control. The data workflow between pre-press and press is implemented via LogoTronic CIPLinkX, with integration to the company's existing medium-format Rapidas.
In February 2014, the print company Yuri Gagarin in Plovdiv, Bulgaria will be receiving a similarly 14-unit Rapida 106 with practically identical features. This press is to be expanded with a KBA ColdFoiler and comprehensive logistics system. It is in fact the first Rapida with cold-foil module in Bulgaria. A comparably automated Rapida 106 for a German packaging printer is also at the final assembly stage in the Radebeul factory; it features a total of 11 printing, coater and dryer units, and thus just three less than the presses for Russia and Bulgaria.