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Meet the presses

Feb 1, 2006 12:00 AM

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Presses in the traditional packaging format, 56- and 64-inches, have been joined in the past couple years by a couple of super XXL presses: KBA's Rapida 205 (81 inches) and MAN Roland's 900 XXL (73 inches). Not to be outdone, Heidelberg, which debuted its massive XL 105 last year, announced it plans to enter the 6 (40.2 x 55.9 inch) and 7b (47.2 x 63.8 inch) formats at Drupa 2008.

Here is a brief overview of press vendors' current offerings suitable for packaging work.

KBA’s presses go from 20 inches all the way up to the industry's biggest press, the 81-inch Rapida 205. It large-format presses, ranging in size from 51 inches to 64 inches, and can easily transition from commercial and packaging work. Key features include feed tables that accommodate large sheets of paper and automatically transport these sheets to the front lays with only two suction belts and can transfer medium and heavy sheets through the press without marking. They’re equipped with three double-sheet sensors options: a ultrasonic one a wide range of substrates metallized stocks and plastic materials, a capacitive sensor for thicker substrates and an optical system. A full interdeck UV system enables the presses to run paper, plastic, foil and synthetic papers.

Eric Frank, KBA's vice president of marketing, notes that his company has developed option kits that allow the traditional commercial press to handle both thicker board and plastic. The company also re-configured its presses to run those substrates at higher speeds.

Frank also emphasizes the need for infeed and delivery systems that accommodate thicker stocks. He notes that when printing thinner paper, a press operator can load 5,000 to 7,000 sheets in the feeder. At the same time, the feeder can only accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 sheets of board stock. "Imagine if a press runs at 18,000 sheets per hour, and there's only 2,000 to 3,000 sheets in the feeder," explains Frank. "It goes through twice as fast, so you have to have non-stop feeder and delivery systems as well."


According to Roland Krapp, vice president of sheetfed product management, Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) presses capable of printing on paper and board include the 29-inch Speedmaster CD 74, 40-inch Speedmaster CD 102 and XL 105. All have open transfer cylinders (“AirTransfer System”) for material flexibility.

UV capabilities are available for all three models. All of the Speedmaster presses have Vario, which reduces the speed of the dampening form roller, for wiping cutting dust off the printing plate. There’s also a suction brush sheet cleaning device after the infeed section. Non-stop feeder and delivery devices are standard.

For short-run light board applications of up to 24 pt., the vendor offers its SM 52 equipped with UV and inline die cutting.


MAN Roland
MAN Roland’s 900 series press comes in traditional packaging formats: 56-inch and 64-inch wide presses as well as 51-inch and 73-inch models. All MAN presses, including the Roland 500 and 700, are designed to handle package printer’s special needs. “We are fortunate to have a single press design throughout our range of presses from the 29-inch 500 format all the way up to the 73 x 51-inch XXL,” says Jeff Nella, director of sheetfed operations.


Komori's Lithrone S40 is well-suited for packaging, according to Doug Schardt, sheetfed product manager. It can accept up to 32-pt. board and comes standard with a non-stop feeder, delivers excellent color consistency and is available with UV and other coating options.


In addition to its 40-inch Diamond 3000, Mitsubishi offers a 41 x 56-inch press, the Diamond 6000, in two models: 6000LS and 6000LX. Both print at speeds up to 14,000 sph and boast Mitsubishi’s full range automation features, says Mitch Dudek, manager of business development. These include remote control of frontlay register, an ink clutch remote-control system and remote-controlled adjustment of oscillating roller dead point. Inline UV or aqueous coating is available.

Both presses accommodate stocks sized from 23 5/8 x 33 15/32 inches to 40 15/16 x 56 11/16 inches. The LX is designed to run heavier stock from 0.004- to 0.04-inch thick; the LS handles 0.0016- to 0.036-inch-thick stock.


New digital corrugated options
Several recent equipment introductions are targeting short-run corrugated applications. In 2004, Alliance, a Rock-Tenn company (Winston-Salem, NC) installed the first Agfa Dotrix digital inkjet press in North America for variable data, versioning, beta tests, and comprehensive mock-ups. (See “The digital edge,” PFFC, November 2004.)


Sun Chemical Digital, a recently created division of Sun Chemical, has installed FastJet, a digital high-speed printer, at Jardin Corrugated Cases (Ely, U.K.). The machine, which Sun co-developed with Inca Digital (now owned by Screen), is a single-pass printer with 480 print heads fixed in stationary arrays which are 1040mm wide. The board makes a single pass under the print head array and emerges fully printed. See