As with any important show, the first few days were crammed with a wall-to-wall schedule of press conferences; and notable after listening to three days’ worth of executives trumpeting their companies’ messages to rooms packed with journalists was the inordinate repetition of two words – ‘packaging’ and ‘partnerships’.
For as long as I have been attending drupa (and that’s a long time!), the focus has been squarely on the graphic arts, commercial and newspaper printing – indeed, in earlier years, I almost gained the impression that packaging printing wasn’t wholeheartedly embraced at this mega printing show.
But that ethos has surely been changing and this year reached a crescendo when the word ‘packaging’ seemed to be on everybody’s lips.
The reason is easy to understand. As commercial printing’s fortunes have declined (for oft-repeated reasons), many printing houses have seen packaging as a rising star; and their suppliers have met this challenge by designing, adapting, modifying – and, at drupa, vigorously promoting – their kit to suit this faster-growing market segment. Exhibitors were falling over themselves to pronounce the P word!
But if packaging printing was a hot topic, the other great emphasis fell on partnerships, as vendors increasingly endeavour to bridge the gaps between their respective technologies through joint ventures. It sometimes results in rather unexpected bedfellows!
The iconic Benny Landa makes a comeback
It all started on May 2, the day before the show’s official opening, when a press conference hosted by the iconic Benny Landa unveiled his new Nanographic Printing process.
It was a case of ‘standing room only’ as an overwhelming number of journalists thronged the room – possibly witnessing the greatest stir in the printing sector since the launch of Landa’s original Indigo press at Ipex 1993!
While the spotlight at this event fell on the versatility of digital combined with the quality and speed of offset, using water-based inks (as described in our last issue – PPM Issue Four 2012, p29), no fewer than three simultaneous headlines were equally attention-grabbing – ‘Heidelberg and Landa enter global strategic partnership to expand digital offerings’; ‘New partnership provides manroland sheet-fed’s offset customers with digital printing capabilities based on Landa nanographic technology’; and ‘Komori’s next-generation digital presses for commercial and packaging markets employ Landa’s nanographic technology’.
At two further press conferences on the same day, Bernhard Schreier, Heidelberg CEO, and Raphael Penuela, executive VP for manroland sheet-fed, both confirmed their companies’ commitment to this ground-breaking technology and underlined the way in which their partnerships with Landa will benefit their customers.
‘This strategic partnership signals our commitment to our customers’ long-term success,’ Heidelberg’s Bernhard Schreier told journalists. ‘As market leader, innovator and integrator, we’re keenly aware of our customers’ needs for high-volume production, cost-effective printing of short runs and quick turnaround times. It’s those very needs that led us to develop our benchmark Anicolor systems and our successful partnership with Ricoh on dry toner-based digital presses [Ed’s note: that resulted in Heidelberg’s Linoprint digital technology promoted at last year’s interpack – PPM Apr 2011, p52]. And it’s those same needs that now lead us to embrace Landa’s nanography for a new generation of digital presses. Our customers need both offset and digital. The Landa Nanographic Printing process enables us to offer digital versatility with the strength of offset for which we’re renowned.’
The Heidelberg-Landa alliance is seen as a major step towards achieving Landa’s strategic goal of industry-wide adoption of nanography for mainstream digital printing. As market leader, Heidelberg’s adoption of Landa Nanographic Printing for its new generation digital presses is a clear message to the market – that for the foreseeable future, offset and digital will not only co-exist, but will complement each other – offset for medium-to-longer jobs and digital for short-to-medium run lengths plus variable data printing. Landa’s technology has both the necessary speed and economic viability to fill that role – and undoubtedly Heidelberg is well-positioned to take it to market.
Speaking on behalf of manroland sheet-fed, Raphael Penuela remarked: ‘We’re committed to helping our customers meet the challenges of today’s printing industry with the most innovative and productive solutions. Clearly, that must include digital for mainstream printing. Landa Nanographic Printing technology offers the versatility of digital printing together with the qualities and speed of offset printing. It’s a great strategic fit. Our goal will be to deliver new digital printing solutions by converting our customers’ existing offset presses to nanography.’
Yet more excitement occurred when the Komori and Landa Corporations officially signed their global strategic partnership agreement on the Landa stand, again attracting an extraordinary level of interest.
In terms of the agreement, Komori is licensed to manufacture and market digital printing presses using the Nanographic Printing process.
Commented Yoshiharu Komori, Komori CEO: ‘As a provider of printing systems for the commercial, packaging and currency printing markets, we see growing demand for variable data printing and personalisation, especially for niche applications, which we’re addressing with our DigitalOnDemand solutions. However, there’s also ever-growing demand for shorter run lengths as well as very short turnaround times. To meet these needs, we’ve embraced Landa Nanographic Printing as a powerful solution for our next-generation sheet-fed and web-fed digital systems that use water-based inks.’
Komori and Konica Minolta in inkjet JV
The Konica Minolta press conference was another case of ‘standing room only’. As Masatoshi Matsuzaki, the company’s CEO, quipped, ‘There are more journalists in this room today than we see at our investment conferences!’
And the partnership saga continued.
In its technology showcase, Konica Minolta unveiled its pioneering inkjet development called KM-1 – a joint development between Konica Minolta and Komori – to help commercial printers produce high-quality jobs that aren’t suitable for offset printing, for reasons of size, run length, tight deadlines or the need for variable data.
By combining their proprietary technologies, Konica Minolta and Komori have created a high value-added product that meets customers’ demands and appeals to next-generation printers.
The high-speed colour inkjet press processes formats up to size B2 and at speeds up to 3 300 sheets/hour. 1 200 x 1 200 dpi resolution gives outstanding print quality.
The news of this JV follows hot on the heels of the news (in February this year) that Konica Minolta had signed a global sales agreement with Komori in the commercial printing market.
In addition, Konica Minolta previewed the bizhub PRESS 1052 and 1250, a black and white print production system, as well as bizhub C1100, a new colour flagship among the Konica Minolta digital presses.
Bobst – One Group; One Brand
Packaging was the topic of the day on the Bobst stand. At its press conference, Bobst announced a series of enhancements to existing product lines and services, designed to bring packaging converters closer to a world of zero-faults, low waste and high productivity.
The focus also fell on the way Bobst is organised into three business units – sheet-fed, web-fed and services – and how these activities are now being united under one brand: Bobst. The move is seen as increasing clarity for customers and improving communication channels.
Among innovations announced at the show were quality control devices that check 100% of customers’ production, whether it’s print on a carton or the density of a metallised film; colour matching systems that make setting a press an offline process, with consequent time savings; and new approaches for existing systems that reduce process waste, improve net production, or cut make-ready times by 10% or more.
In the arena of digital technology, Bobst shared the company’s vision for digital solutions in packaging: from digital printing to converting.
From its sheet-fed BU, Bobst displayed machines with enhancements that increase net outputs, reduce production costs and reduce setting times, along with new in-line processes that help manufacturers ensure the delivery of ‘zero-fault’ packaging for a wide range of markets – from food to pharmaceuticals.
Two of seven new features shown on a new-generation Expertcut 106 PER die-cutter, for instance, were the Smart Feeder II and a one-touch setting feature for the non-stop grid. Other developments reduce process waste and shorten recovery time following a machine stop, improving net outputs. These improvements also reduce the number of over-runs required, substantially increasing converters’ profit margins. To ensure die-cutting quality throughout the run, the equipment on display also featured systems to improve the operational life of tooling. These systems allow high-quality cutting to be maintained for an increased number of impressions, reducing the cost of manufacturing each box.
In hot foil stamping, Bobst unveiled details of its new press, Expertfoil 142, said to be the only dedicated foil stamping press available in size VI format (for an application story, see page 33).
The web-fed BU showcased printing presses, laminating equipment and innovative process control systems that enable major productivity gains, including operator-oriented, waste-saving and eco-efficient technical solutions. The end result is the production of superior quality output at the lowest cost for packaging converters to provide the necessary competitive edge.
On the flexo front, Bobst premièred the brand-new Fischer & Krecke 20SIX press equipped with the latest smartGPS. The machine on show is one of a platform of 20SIX presses that can be customised to meet flexible packaging requirements from long-run to very short-run jobs.
For gravure, Bobst showed the Rotomec MW (minimised waste) press in a new configuration with internal washing dedicated to ultra-short-run production, as well as the well-established high-speed Rotomec 4003HS press.
Further information on Bobst equipment is available from Beswick Machinery.
The latest Miraflex from W&H
Staying on the topic of flexible packaging, among Ipex Machinery’s several principals on show was Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H), whose Miraflex flexographic press has been hailed by this German manufacturer as ‘the most successful in the world today’. The claim is backed up by hard facts – almost 200 Miraflex presses are now in operation worldwide.
At drupa, W&H introduced the new Miraflex CL as a ten-colour press running at speeds of 600m/min, with a maximum repeat length of 1 130mm, addressing the needs of the steadily growing wide-web package printing market.
To reach the 20% increased print speed, the Miraflex is equipped with the high-performance drive technology, efficient between-colour deck and bridge drying systems, and the new-generation Turboclean inking and wash-up system – also launched at drupa. During the demonstration, a job change-over using the W&H’s Easy automation modules was undertaken while the press was running.
In an ever-changing world, flexible packaging designs are becoming increasingly colourful and diverse. Yet at the same time there’s a trend to shorter runs. W&H’s Miraflex range answers these market demands, combining the company’s expertise from the production of hundreds of direct-drive sleeve CI presses with its knowledge of machine operation, sleeve handling and ink and substrate logistics.
This portfolio meets more than 90% of demands on performance, print width and repeat lengths in today’s flexible packaging market. Easy operation, excellent efficiency and extensive automation options make the Miraflex an exceptionally economical flexographic printing press.
Another feature on the W&H stand was the Heliostar rotogravure press portfolio. In addition to the SH and SL models, the company introduced the Heliostare SE, designed for extremely short runs.
Comexi – committed to the planet
On the Comexi stand, the group underlined its commitment to leading the flexible packaging converting industry into a sustainable and environmentally-friendly future, rooted in production efficiency and high-quality converting.
At drupa, Comexi and its innovation partner BASF presented the Comexi Flexo F2 press, fitted with Comexi’s Cingular modules for managing pressure adjustments and registration, while significantly reducing waste. Further important advantages include accessibility, easy maintenance and significant energy savings.
In line with the sustainability message, the two companies introduced the latest technology in water-based inks using BASF resins. These inks offer improved sustainability and reduced costs while maintaining a high level of printability and print quality.
A demonstration showed a fully-compostable package being printed on a Comexi Flexo F2 press and laminated on a Nexus EVO with Epotal ECO compostable water-based adhesive from BASF.
Also aimed at the flexible packaging sector, the Comexi Offset CI8 press was unveiled. It’s built on an arrangement of up to eight printing decks around a central impression (CI) drum. These can be eight offset EB print decks, or the first and/or last deck can be a flexo deck for applying background colours or varnishes. It’s suitable for printing on plastic materials such as PE, BOPP and PET.
This exhibit underlined the core of Comexi’s strategic principles – a reduction of costs per square metre of printed material, the ability to produce offset plates in the same plant in a matter of minutes, a reduction of environmental impact thanks to the use of EB offset solventless inks, impressive line screen and great print quality (in highlights, fine screens, micro text), plus overall energy efficiency.
And here more partnerships come into play. Comexi’s partners Heidelberg and Wikoff Color support these offset technologies. The Wikoff inks offer excellent print properties and stable performance in food-grade packaging applications, adhering well to paper, board or plastic films.
Also on show was Comexi Proslit showing its new S-Turret model in operation. This slitter-rewinder opens up a new market as it slits rigid and semi-rigid materials, including paper, self-adhesive material and flexible films such as BOPP. It supports reel widths between 1 400mm and 2 200mm and a diameter of 1 500mm. Reels are rewound in a single turret shaft with rewind diameters up to 1 000mm. Maximum speed is 600m/min.
But that wasn’t all. Comexi Acom demonstrated a new technology in rotogravure printing, featuring the latest electronic innovations, such as Siemens Sinamics Simotion controls built-in into the Comexi Acom software. All of these features are aimed at improving registration control during transition and start-up phases, minimising waste and stabilising quality during the printing process.
Apart from great performance, the latest drying units provide full accessibility and tool-less cleaning and maintenance. In addition to these drying units, fresh ventilation technology makes Comexi’s rotogravure lines energy efficient.
Rounding out the exhibit, Comexi Nexus presented the latest Nexus Optima 450 laminator. A demonstration showed a Nexus Optima drying module equipped with rotogravure trolley and closed chamber doctor blade and self-cleaning system.
Visitors could witness the latest drying technology in action such as greater blowing power and a greater capacity for turbulence which facilitates the evaporation of solvents/water.
The new rotogravure trolley is an example of Comexi Nexus’s commitment to reducing solvent emissions and increasing productivity. With an in-built cleaning system, the use of adhesives, solvents and water is optimised to make daily work easier and reduce downtime.
Screen increasingly committed to packaging
I remember drupa 2004 being dubbed the JDF drupa (Job Definition Format) and it remained a key topic at drupa 2008, although by then it seemed to be subsumed by the more general accent on workflow, MIS and automation that was predominant four years ago. I can make a similar comment this year.
This was clear at the Screen press conference where we learnt that Equios workflow is now integral to all the kit in Screen’s equipment line-up.
But the company was also demonstrating its strong commitment to delivering high-productivity solutions for package and label printing.
Growth in internet shopping has seen a clear trend towards more short-run product lines, plus a related rise in demand for value-added packaging to enhance product differentiation. As the concept of supply chain management grows so packaging printers increasingly have to integrate their operations with brand owners’ leaner JIT (just-in-time) production systems.
To address this demand, Screen has introduced several products that meet today’s pressures. These include the PlateRite series of thermal CtP recorders, for which Screen claims a leading global market share, and the Truepress Jet series which allows high-speed, high-quality POD (Print-on-Demand) and variable-data printing.
Star of the press conference was the Truepress JetSX, billed as the world’s first B2 sheet-fed printing system that allows printing on substrates up to 0,6mm thick. At drupa, Screen showed samples featuring both UV clear ink-based digital embossing and glitter effects, and samples showing digital cutting and creasing to reflect the trend toward diversified, shortrun and on-demand printing.
To meet the label industry’s need for diversified, short-run production, Screen has also developed the Truepress Jet L350UV label printer, equipped with proprietary single-pass greyscale printheads.
To learn more about Screen products, contact Kemtek.
Digital label printing
Another Kemtek principal, Durst, held a press conference at which journalists were introduced to the Tau 330 for label printing.
Following the launch of the UV inkjet based label press Tau 150 8C at Labelexpo 2010 in Chicago, followed by multiple installations in Europe and North America, the Tau 330 (pictured above) was shown for the first time at drupa.
As its name suggests, it features a print width of 330mm with a printing speed of 48m/min, to reach an leading hourly production capacity of 950m². Its standard CMYK colour configuration can be complemented with white and two optional process colours Orange and Violet, essential for label applications that require precise Pantone matching. Furthermore, the standard configuration also includes industry-leading RIP software with built-in substrate management and colour management.
In addition to the Tau 330 version, there’s a more economic version – the Tau 330/200 – with a print width up to 200mm.
‘Best in class’ image quality is achieved thanks to Durst’s proprietary single-pass UV inkjet technology, featuring Xaar 1001 print heads with a physical 720 x 360dpi resolution, with drop on demand, variable drop size and greyscale technology, that results in an apparent image resolution of over 1 000dpi.
Also featured was the high-speed Tau 330 VDP (variable data print) option for printing on pre-die-cut or pre-printed labels, allowing full labelto- label variability as well as ‘late stage versioning’ applications.
Another important feature are Durst’s durable UV inks, especially important for label converters who often need to supply product identification labels for consumer goods such as computers, printers, telephones, garden equipment, vacuum cleaners, power tools, etc, where the identification system must be durable for the lifetime of the product.
Label inspection on show
Another supplier to the label printing sector, Prati, took advantage of drupa to show its Saturn Plus TE 330 label slitter inspection rewinder, equipped with Nikka Alis L1C-330 camera. Shown on the Nikka Research stand, this seamless integration of inspection and label finishing technologies underpins the high level co-operation between the two companies
‘We have worked with Prati for many years and are excited to show the effectiveness of combining the high level performance of our camera with the advanced finishing technology of the Prati system in a live environment,’ commented Ivan Bonev, CEO at Nikka Research.
The Saturn Plus TE 330 label slitter inspection rewinder (pictured above) runs inspection, correction, slitting, numbering and rewinding operations for self-adhesive labels and is particularly suited to applications in cosmetics, food, beverage and healthcare segments. It can work 330mm width label webs at high speed and with exceptional quality results, with perfect alignment even on transparent materials. Thanks to the Nikka Alis L1C-330 high resolution camera featuring modular apps for 100% print inspection, colour measurement, PDF to print verification, barcode and 2D code verification, ISO grading and statistical data collection, the Saturn ensures the highest level of label control.
‘Through co-operation with Nikka we can offer a turnkey product with 100% control and complete finishing processes for self-adhesive labels, at a low level of investment,’ comments Chiara Prati, Prati’s sales manager.
In South Africa, Prati equipment is marketed by Ipex Machinery.
Presstek expands digital offset capabilities
At its press conference, Presstek announced an array of new capabilities for its flagship 75DI digital offset press.
‘We continue to enhance our flagship product, the 75DI digital offset press,’ maintained Stan Freimuth, Presstek’s CEO. ‘This breakthrough press, with its digital file to printed sheet in six minutes and 300 lpi/ stochastic screening print quality, is already the most efficient digital offset press in the world. By continuing to expand its capabilities, we’re demonstrating our commitment to meeting the needs of larger printers, who often have complex requirements and pursue a broader range of applications.’
Presstek Virtuoso is an innovative inline color management and defect detection system for the Presstek 75DI digital offset press. Virtuoso enhances the innate quality of the Presstek 75DI by performing a complete inspection of each sheet as it passes through the press at full speed. Continuous and automated inspection saves time and money while producing a higher quality more stable print run.
Presstek announced exciting configurations for the 75DI product line. These included a perfecting device that can be automatically converted between normal printing and perfecting in minimal time, with up to ten towers included in the perfecting configuration. Secondly, a UV curing unit can be installed over the impression cylinder of each unit, allowing high-value-added printing on specialty substrates such as film, metallised paper and other non-absorptive media, as well as lenticular printing. Thirdly, an inline UV coater can be added, allowing for eye-catching high-shine, abrasion-resistant finishes.
Ferrostaal to distribute Screen’s thermal CtP kit
Hot news direct from the show is that Ferrostaal Equipment Solutions South Africa, in conjunction with Fujifilm, has secured the rights to distribute and service Screen’s thermal computer-to-plate (CtP) equipment.
Ferrostaal is already the distributer for Fujifilm’s advanced printing plate technology.
Comments Eric Duggan, MD of Ferrostaal Equipment Solutions: ‘We have successfully launched Fujifilm’s advanced violet printing plate technology on the local market with the Luxel Violet range of CtP equipment. However, we’ve had limited success with Fujifilm’s advanced thermal printing plate technology, largely because we weren’t able to supply an acceptable thermal CtP engine. We went to drupa with the aim of securing a distributorship for a thermal CtP engine and Screen was happy to oblige!’ The Fujifilm Brillia HD PRO-T3 thermal plate is a processless plate that doesn’t require form of prepress processor or finishing unit, nor associated chemicals. A key selling point is the massive gains achieved by removing the processor from the prepress operation, saving time and money and reducing environmental impact.
By eliminating any form of prepress development, along with the associated chemicals and waste products, Fujifilm claims that the plate is ecologically efficient and can help printers to improve their environmental performance.
Although Ferrostaal’s target market for PRO T3 is among smaller printers, who can benefit from eliminating the costs of running a plate processor or finishing unit, larger printers can also cut costs by reducing chemical use and cleaning patterns by implementing Fujifilm’s award-winning series of intelligent ZAC processors. These processors incorporate Fujifilm’s proprietary software to control the amount of replenisher used in the development process. These improvements mean that a full bath of replenisher develops around 15 000 m2 of plates, as opposed to the previous specification of 2 000m², bringing major benefits to users of this system.
ZAC systems achieve substantial savings in developer consumption and cleaning downtime. It’s not uncommon to save over 200 hours of cleaning time and over 3 500 litres of developer for 50 000m² of plates over a year’s production.
MultiGrain technology announced
Among other announcements from Fujifilm at drupa was the introduction of a new surface treatment technology called MultiGrain Z that’s set to be used in the manufacture of its processless printing plate. This new manufacturing process allows for the creation of an even greater effective surface area of the plate, which will result in up to a 50% improvement in run length for the Brillia HD PRO-T3 processless plate, while retaining ink/water balance, on-press processing stability and market-leading image quality.
Fujifilm believes that with this new technology, processless plates will become the de facto standard compared to chemistry-free systems for printers wishing to improve their environmental performance, and it will encourage expansion not only in the commercial print market, but will increasingly influence acceptance for newspaper applications as well.
Starring the Roland 700 – packaging stalwart
A key element of manroland sheet-fed’s exhibit was aimed at the packaging market.
The company’s drupa press conference was held exactly 100 days since its purchase by Britain’s Langley Holdings, which marked a new beginning after last year’s near bankruptcy (PPM Issue Two 2012, p3).
Noting that the packaging market is manroland Sheet-fed’s strongest base, in fact representing the company’s only growth area, the focus moved quickly to the Roland 700 press – as the ‘star of the show’. Available in three versions, HiPrint, HiPrint HS (high-speed) and DirectDrive, it has long become a benchmark press since its launch at drupa 1990, and has inspired other format sizes such as the Roland 200, 500, 900 and 900 XXL.
The eight-colour Roland 700 HiPrint LV on show at drupa featured all the equipment needed for attaining high productivity in the packaging environment as well as numerous inline enhancement for fine print effects and added value printing. To mention just one, a newgeneration indexed InlineFoiler system allows savings of up to 50% of foil.
Landa dancers wow with Mimaki textile printers
And finally, nobody attending drupa could fail to notice the return of Benny Landa and the buzz he created even before the show started with the introduction of nanography. But Landa’s Nanographic Printing wasn’t the only drawcard bringing visitors to the auditorium to see the exciting Landa show. Israeli dancers ‘Maria Kong’ created a buzz performing ‘The Dance for the Digital Age’.
The dance performance illustrates various historical milestones in printing, from water to the nanography introduced at drupa. All costumes were designed for the show by famous costume designer Miki Avni and printed on Mimaki textile printers. Avni is known for designing artistic clothing using wild and colourful imagination and found that the Mimaki textile printers, known for their quality and colour fidelity, gave expression to all of her artistic desires.
Zohar Eshel-Acco, CEO of Maria Kong, praised the quality of the textile print produced on the Mimaki systems. ‘Beautiful vibrant colours can be produced that don’t fade when washed. The fabrics are durable, a definite requirement for our dancing costumes, especially in this performance where it’s important to bring lively designs that complement our dancing act as well as Benny Landa’s message. Mimaki textile printers can print on various kinds of fabrics, giving Miki the freedom to create colourful and vibrant costumes that really add value to our artistic performance.’
Added Mimaki’s Mike Horsten: ‘We’re extremely proud to have supported the Landa show with optimally printed fabrics and happy that we can make a contribution to this wonderful show.’
The dance performance was initially designed as a warm-up for visitors entering the auditorium but news of these exquisite dancers travelled fast, and many arrived early to see the dance performance, contributing in no small measure to the Landa show.
Mimaki textile printers – available in South Africa from Graphix Supply World – are billed as the world’s fastest dye sublimation printers, capable of printing at 150m2/hour on transfer paper and direct to pretreated polyester fabrics without the need for an interim transfer paper step with no compromise in quality. Mimaki’s sublimation ink delivers brilliant colours, whether printing on transfer paper or direct-to-textile, broadening the range of possibilities for both textile printers and designers.
[ Ed’s note: That seems to be a good point at which to conclude this ‘stop press’ report of drupa exhibits. More will follow in our next issue. ]