The W&H team on the stand took many orders during the show, proving that the market for flexible packaging hasn’t been directly affected by structural changes in the overall printing industry.
The company’s show motto was ‘The Easy Way’ – referring to the development of its Easy family of automation modules that were demonstrated daily on W&H’s new Miraflex CL10 flexographic press.
A fascinating glimpse into the future of printed electronics was provided at the W&H information stand, where Prof Dr Arved Hübler, along with students from the Institut für Print & Medientechnik, presented exciting developments such as printing solar cells on paper. A tree with solar cells printed on paper leaves was displayed, connected to an electricity meter that allowed visitors to see the amount of energy generated. Fascinating stuff!
Also successful was the in-house expo held at W&H’s Lengerich plant during drupa. Roughly 500 customers from 44 countries took the opportunity to see W&H’s laboratory and the performance of the company’s flexographic and gravure presses. A star attraction was the highly-productive Vistaflex CL8 for wide-web printing.
A packed stand, a stream of orders for KBA
The large numbers of visitors to the KBA stand and their keen interest in the many new products on show exceeded all expectations, which, the company admits, given the current troubled economic climate, had been relatively modest.
During the 14-day show, however, KBA exchanged contracts with customers from 30 countries for sheetfed offset presses in every format – one with Shave & Gibson in South Africa (see below)!
In sheetfed offset, the biggest attractions were the brand-new Rapida 145, and the makeready champion, the Rapida 106, exhibited as a 12-unit configuration with an output of 18 000 sheet/hour in four-over-four with perfect coating and ultra-fast job changes. Small-scale printers were drawn to KBA’s new 18 000 sheet/hour B2 Rapida 76 with dedicated plate cylinder drives.
But the top-selling press on the stand was the Rapida 105 that’s proving popular in China and other emerging markets.
Producers of flexible packaging were particularly interested in the new Varius 80 variable-format web offset press from KBA-MePrint. KBA believes this press has enormous potential thanks to its cost efficiency and superior quality printing compared to flexo and conventional offset presses.
The Commander CL (newspaper) and C16 (commercial) web presses on show were also highly acclaimed by print professionals visiting the stand.
A Rapida 142 for S&G . . .
One of the last Rapida 142 presses to roll off the production line following the drupa launch of the Rapida 145 is coming to South Africa. At the show, Shave & Gibson placed an order for a six-colour coater version, scheduled for installation in October.
It will expand S&G’s packaging production capacity and allow for future growth. Configured with board-handling capability and automatic plate changing, the Rapida is the second litho press the company has bought in two years.
S&G’s print experts are delighted with KBA technology. ‘In all the years they’ve been in operation, we’ve had no mechanical problems with our KBA presses, and our operators switch easily from one to the other,’ comments factory manager, Martin Conway. S&G general manager (packaging) Dave King also applauds the outstanding customer support provided by Thunderbolt Solutions, KBA’s South African sales and service agency.
. . . and a saddle stitcher for Uniprint
Staying with Thunderbolt’s principals and Durban-based printers, Uniprint signed up for a new Primera C130 at drupa, the company’s third saddle stitcher from Müller Martini.
It’s 14 years since Uniprint first invested in two PrimaPlus saddle stitchers. Both are still in operation – just like the Acoro A7 perfect binder– much to the satisfaction of MD Colin Baxter-Bruce.
‘However,’ he comments, ‘as we’ve seen positive growth in catalogues, brochures and commercial work, it was clear that we needed a third machine.’
Although Uniprint regularly processes print runs of over one million copies, the company also prints many shorter print runs in the five-figure range. ‘That’s why we need a saddle stitcher with fast changeover times,’ Colin adds.
The Primera C130 provides just that, thanks to its high level of automation.
‘As we have a long-term partnership with Müller Martini and Thunderbolt Solutions, it was clear which new saddle stitcher we wanted to purchase,’ Colin remarks.
The new Primera C130 has six flat pile feeders and a cover feeder as well as a Perfetto compensating stacker. It goes into operation in October.
KBA and Müller Martini join forces
On KBA’s stand, Müller Martini’s inline solution for digitally-printed products caused great interest. Of course, this wasn’t the first time that KBA had appeared with Müller Martini at drupa, but in the past it was with commercial web presses. This year, however, KBA showed a digital printing press for the first time, evidently keen to enter this new business sector with its brand-new Rotajet 76.
‘Our live demo at drupa made sense because we could also show inline finishing,’ reckons Klaus Schmidt, KBA’s marketing/communication director.
For Müller Martini, the partnership provided an excellent opportunity to show its leadership position in inline solutions for digital printing and how digital printing can be seamlessly integrated into print finishing, thanks to the Connex data and process management system.
Four 48-page products printed on various types of paper were being produced on the stand, using the Rotajet 76 digital press and Müller Martini ’s SigmaLine – consisting of a SigmaFolder and a Primera Digital. The four products were Kba Daily, a university magazine, a technology magazine, and a cook book – with and without additional covers.
‘Like us, Müller Martini is a global company,’ says Klaus Schmidt, explaining the cooperation of the Swiss machine manufacturer at the KBA stand. In his view, it’s clear that the industry needs to join forces in order to be able to offer such customer-oriented inline solutions. ‘Production doesn’t end with printing, but with the finished product. Each customer decides which configurations to use,’ he adds.
The joint KBA/Müller Martini went down extremely well. ‘Our jointly-presented system pulled in the visitors,’ says a visibly satisfied Klaus Schmidt.
Both KBA and Müller Martini are represented in South Africa by Thunderbolt Solutions.
Color-Logic reports non-stop crowds, seeks SA agent
Color-Logic develops colour communication systems and software tool sets for a variety of special effect printing applications, allowing brand owners, product managers, corporations and their advertising agencies to differentiate themselves with a simple print production process that yields dramatic results.
Color-Logic decorative effects utilise existing workflows, yielding dynamic results without the use of special equipment.
Comments director of sales & marketing, Mark Geeves: ‘Although Color-Logic had only a small kiosk within the HP stand, customers found us throughout the show. Our Process Metallic Color System was explained to customers from around the world, all of whom were amazed at the time savings in prepress and the special effects that can be created using our software.’
‘Limited edition’ shrink-sleeved cans.
Demonstrating the technology expertise of both companies Color-Logic collaborated with HP to produce a commemorative energy drink can shrink sleeve.
The live demonstration on the HP stand showed how the Color-Logic process can produce striking effects on decorative drink cans, using clear shrink sleeve material. The shrink sleeves were printed on an HP Indigo WS6600 digital press. In just a few hours’ turnaround time from job creation to final product, thousands of sleeved cans were produced, each unique and printed using variable data.
The printed sleeve material was formed and seamed on a Karlville seamer.
Beyond the waffles: FlexoKitchen serves irresistible results
While thousands of curious drupa visitors to the Apex Group stand sampled tasty Dutch Stroopwafels, many stayed to satisfy their hunger for high-performance, expanded-gamut flexography made possible by Apex’s GTT ink-to-plate metering cylinders.
Flexo printers and OEMs flocked to view stunning four-colour Pantone simulation press samples printed using superfine plate screens, intelligent software and GTT predictability to produce consistently accurate colour fidelity. This is the basis of the ‘Flexo(R)evolution’ partnership project between Apex, software, plate and ink manufacturers.
Apex also introduced two new products – the X-Sleeve line of plate-mounting and adapter sleeves; and GTT Offset/Coating cylinders which enable offset printers to gain the quality benefits of GTT for varnish, lacquer and coating applications. While the X-Sleeve products are in limited early release, interest in their novel construction, dimensional stability and strength led to many orders at drupa.
And while waffles are always a hit at drupa (14 000 individual waffles were served on the Apex stand during the show), Apex VP for sales, Jan Kersten, believes interest in GTT and the Flexo(R)evolution drove visitors to investigate further.
Apex reports a 35% increase in active visitors to the stand compared to 2008 – despite the overall decline in attendance this year.
‘In challenging economic times, technical innovations like GTT that save time and improve predictability are very attractive,’ notes Jan Kersten.
Apex is represented locally by Paul Moeller & Co.
Epson makes a splash
Having doubled sales leads compared to drupa 2008, Epson announced impressive sales performance at this year’s drupa. Particular interest was shown in the Surecolor SC-S30600 signage large-format printer. Despite being launched as recently as mid-March it’s already the second highest selling signage printer in Q1 of 2012, according to Epson.
The five SureColor models launched at the show also proved popular, with orders for almost 2 000 units taken during the 14-day event. Additionally, significant forward orders for Epson’s new white-ink SurePress L-4033AW have kick-started increased production to meet expected demand.
Says Duncan Ferguson, director of Epson Europe: ‘Judging by the volume of both interest and orders at this year’s drupa, our strategy of developing products with quality, reliability and affordability at the forefront has proved a great hit with our customers.’
Sales success for Autobond.
drupa was an enormous success for Autobond. The UK-based family-run engineering company is celebrating this success with a full order book for at least the next six months. ‘With many orders placed on our stand, and over 2 000 enquiries to follow up, the hard work starts now,’ remarks MD, John Gilmore.
‘This was our ninth drupa and it was a truly international show. Orders have come from unexpected countries. We’ve already shipped a machine to Italy, with another to follow. We’ve received an order from a printer in Iraq. In the US, we have new customers from New Jersey to California. Other orders have come from Australia, Palestine and Nigeria,’ says an elated John.
Innovation drives investment in Heidelberg presses
‘The level of orders taken during the show indicates that confidence in the industry is returning. The investment backlog continues to unwind in many parts of the world and we received almost 2 000 orders from 80 countries during drupa, including 550 for sheetfed offset presses alone. This volume of orders equates to about half our production of printing units over the past financial year,’ states an elated Bernhard Schreier, Heidelberg CEO.
With some 60 innovations for the commercial and packaging printing sectors on show, Heidelberg underscored its position as a preferred provider in the print media industry.
The new Speedmaster SX machine platform fared particularly well, with almost 500 units sold. The concept of transferring high-end technologies from the Speedmaster XL class to the proven machine platform of the Speedmaster SM class seems to have hit the mark in meeting market needs; and these technologies are now accessible to a broad range of users.
The new flagship press in the 700 x 1 000mm format, the Speedmaster XL 106, turned out to be a bestseller and the ‘most sold’ machine at the show. The long perfectors for commercial printing and models with UV technology for the growing packaging market were particularly in demand. Customers from Germany, the UK, US and Japan were the primary investors in the cutting-edge technology of the Speedmaster XL 106.
Heidelberg concluded sizeable contracts for the large-format Speedmaster XL 145 and Speedmaster XL 162 presses, which proved popular with packaging printers and web-to-print companies.
The new Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor – now kitted out with the Anicolor technology that has been so successful in the small format – was also successfully launched at the show.
Heidelberg also took orders for postpress products. Crowd pullers were the new Stitchmaster ST 500 saddlestitcher, the enhanced Stahlfolder TH 82 folding machine, the Eurobind Pro adhesive binder and, in the packaging sector, Varimatrix and Dymatrix die-cutters and Diana X 115 folding carton gluing machines.
Many visitors were impressed with Heidelberg’s Linoprint digital printing presses. As many Linoprint C presses were ordered at drupa as were purchased during the whole of 2011.
For commercial printers, the ability to integrate the Linoprint C digital press into the print shop workflow – and into the offset workflow – using Prinect Digital Print Manager was a pivotal factor in many investment decisions.
Visitors were particularly attracted by the functionality of Prinect, the operating system software for print shops that’s specifically tailored to industry growth segments. All demonstrations were booked out every day of the show, and visitors leant about the new Prinect Business Manager and Prinect Web-to-Print Manager. With over 100 integration solutions sold, Heidelberg claims that Prinect is the leading industry software.
Another highlight of the Heidelberg stand was its popular Services Area. Here Heidelberg presented its portfolio of technical services, consumables and performance services alongside its equipment solutions. Particular attractions included the range of Saphira ECO eco-friendly consumables and new service agreements tailored to the needs of print shops’ different business models.
‘drupa has once again clearly demonstrated its importance as a major industry trade show. As for Heidelberg, our expectations of the trade show were more than satisfied. The fact that we have remained true to our development projects over recent years, some of which have not been easy, has been rewarded. We can now look to the future with optimism,’ concludes Bernhard Schreier.
Toray’s waterless plates draws crowds.
Daily demonstrations of the application of waterless plates combined with a fully-automated production environment on the Toray stand proved a big draw for drupa crowds as they discovered how tomorrow’s print possibilities can become a reality today.
A KBA Rapida 106 five-colour plus coater running Toray’s waterless plates was demonstrated, in conjunction with an Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) and a robot from Industrial Robot Automation, showcasing the benefits of automated production and how to optimise on-demand printing solutions.
‘Interest in our exhibit greatly exceeded our expectations,’ comments Izabela Batko, sales and marketing manager. ‘Waterless offset gives printers an opportunity to print a wide range of substrates easily and efficiently, from paper to just about any kind of non-absorbent material. By combining the efficiency and versatility of waterless UV with an automated system for materials handling and finishing, Toray is taking on-demand offset printing to the next level of superior performance.’
The demo started with a short run of just 200 sheets, following by a quick change to a job running a completely different substrate. With only a few sheets of waste, sharpness and colour brilliance typical of waterless was achieved, with correct density, perfect register and no fan-out.
The Rapida 106’s dryer has options for regular and HR-UV flash lamps for UV cure varnish, plus infrared lamps and hot air for water-based coatings. It’s also fitted with an automatic plate changer and inline inspection system for monitoring critical parameters. Optimum waterless printing performance is ensured by EPDM ink rollers, individual ink zone temperature controls from Technotrans, and a sheet cleaner.
Toray’s green-coloured waterless plates, siliconecoated to repel the ink in the non-image area, can be imaged by any plate setter with an 830 nanometre thermal laser at up to 300 LPI and, depending on plate type and run lengths, up to 100 000 impressions can be achieved. They’re developed using a fraction of the chemicals required for processing conventional plates.
The overriding message is that any press can be used for waterless printing. It doesn’t have to be fitted with temperature-controlled plate cylinders. A normal cooling system for ink with individual zone controls is sufficient. Most modern presses have this provision.
Gravure makes the brand.
Under the slogan ‘Gravure makes the brand’ the European Rotogravure Association (ERA) promoted gravure printing.
Particularly in packaging, gravure continues to strengthen its position: manufacturers of packaging gravure presses have delivered a record number of new presses – particularly to booming markets such as China and India where 80% of the flexible packaging material is printed gravure. The reason is clear: gravure sets standards for top quality in packaging. And for luxury packaging, sheet-fed gravure presses have gained a significant niche.
According to ERA, this trend in packaging printing will continue as gravure technology has successfully been further developed: faster electromechanical and laser engraving systems, completely automatic workflows in prepress and faster set-up times in the latest gravure printing presses have significantly increased gravure’s productivity and cost efficiency.
And despite structural changes in the markets for publication and commercial printing owing to ongoing developments in Internet-based media, gravure has kept a strong position in these markets. In Europe almost four million tons of paper are still gravure printed for high-volume magazines and catalogues. And all major magazines and home shopping catalogues are produced by the gravure sector.
In publication gravure, earlier trends towards wider presses has been reversed. Italian press manufacturer Cerutti has developed a new publication gravure press concept. Its Aurora press is a highly flexible and efficient mid-size press to meet the current trend towards smaller print runs and lower pagination, and capable of challenging the latest web offset press generation. The recent introduction of this model into the market has been successful: Aurora presses have been supplied to Brazil and South Africa, and a third is being built for a French customer.
drupa more than meets Kolbus’s expectations.
German manufacturer of bindery machines, Kolbus, reports positively on its presence at drupa.
‘The signs are now set for investment; the period of uncertainty is definitely over,’ reckons Kai Büntemeyer, managing partner.
Staffed by 100 employees, the 2 000m2 stand was the largest in the company’s history. On show were solutions for classical bookbinding together with the innovative Bookjet concept for digital printing technologies.
Demonstrations of a powerful book production line in action was a strong drawcard, The company’s new Packaging Materials business unit that supplies machinery for the production of high-quality packaging played a prominent role in discussions on the stand.
[Ed’s note: Kolbus area sales manager, Henning Meier, is currently in South Africa, calling on local customers along with members of the Ipex Machinery team. Watch for next month’s interview. ]
Reifenhäuser open house highlights Evolution blown film lines.
It wasn’t only at drupa itself that exciting technology was on show. Some companies took advantage of drupa to hold concurrent events at their own plants.
One such company was Reifenhäuser Kiefel Extrusion (locally represented by Ferrostaal) which hosted drupa visitors on two separate days at the company’s technology centre in Troisdorf. These events were well supported with around 140 visitors from a score of countries attending each day, taking the opportunity to witness production of high-quality multilayer films on Evolution blown film lines under real production conditions.
Ulrich Reifenhäuser welcomed visitors and expressed pleasure at the attendance of these packaging printing experts.
‘For us, drupa is an indirect show. However, many of our customers and prospects attend drupa where decisive criteria for plastic films are defined. Demand for high-quality printed film products is growing – and we offer the right technology to set future standards,’ he commented.
He was referring, of course, to the fact that this year’s show attracted many visitors from the packaging sector; and that many exhibitors focused on packaging printing.
As underlined by Ulrich Reifenhäuser, interdisciplinary trade shows such as drupa clearly show an acceleration of cycles of technological leaps; and Reifenhäuser group companies are increasingly considering trade shows covering different industries as communications forums for their development efforts.
One such development – a highlight of the show in an in-house exhibition in Troisdorf – was the Evolution Ultra Cool high-performance cooling system that allows for great flexibility and high output rates.
Visitors were impressed by the combination of high-quality film, functionality, printability, flexible conversion capabilities, and ease of operation. ‘In South Africa two Ultra Cool systems are already in operation,’ explains Kiefel’s sales executive, Sascha Skora, well known among this country’s flexible packaging fraternity. ‘They’re used for different applications, but their ease of use coupled with high output is appreciated by both South African film manufacturers,’ he reports.
The plastics industry is already gearing up for K2013 in Düsseldorf. The experience gained at drupa and Reifenhäuser’s parallel in-house exhibitions are important tools as the company prepares the way for participation at the plastics industry’s most important trade show.
Gidue extends the drupa experience with open house event.
Gidue was another company that provided a complementary experience by staging an open house during drupa. The company’s Florence factory was kept busy for 15 days, welcoming converters – representing some 60 printing companies from five continents – who had extended their drupa trip with a visit to Italy.
The open house proved very popular, and Gidue reports a number of sales that will build on its already strong sales growth for 2012.
Comments MD, Federico d’Annunzio: ‘The open house was an excellent opportunity to meet our loyal customers, and it gave us the chance to introduce our technologies to several converters whom we met for the first time.’
Visitors had access to mechanical, electrical and software departments, giving them a hands-on experience of Gidue’s lean manufacturing in action. They were offered a demonstration of the full product range – the new MX entry-level press for labels; the flexible M1 Plus for labels and packaging; the advanced M3 for multiple substrates; the ‘futuristic’ M5 Digital Flexo; and the latest M5 630 mid-web UV flexo press for food packaging, including the SL in-line solventless laminator, being showcased to the market for the first time.
During the event, visitors could live test the innovative performance of the M5 Digital Flexo line, which enables fully automatic ‘digital’ print pressure and register set-up, and less than 20m waste. Several demonstrations were run with converters’ own plates, so they could verify the consistent performance on the new M5 press.
Tests were run without prior preparation – again so visitors could verify the automated operations of the M5 Digital Flexo technology and waste reduction.
Different substrates were converted during the live tests to produce labels, shrink sleeves, wraparound labels, flexible packaging, laminated tubes, pharma alufoil (on the new three-colour M5-P), and yoghurt lids.
Concludes Matteo Cardinotti, Gidue’s chief of R&D: ‘The open house surpassed our expectations. Our team created a great atmosphere, and visitors welcomed the opportunity to see our latest innovations in action. Our customers confirmed that Gidue Digital Flexo delivers what they need – full automation for short runs, and digital-controlled quality.’