The company has been running open house events in Dresden to show off both machines over the last week and is now embarking on a UK tour this week, meeting selected B2 printers or those with a need for this format of machine.
The idea, says KBA UK Sheetfed sales director Chris Scully, is to target a limited number of installations in order to have reference sites in this country for both machines. The Rapida 76 is the flagship 18,000sph machine with all the bells and whistles of automation and available in countless configurations. The Rapida 75 Pro is a 15,000sph machine also brimming with automation from makeready aids, TouchTronic interface and available up to ten units, with perfecting, coaters, standard and UV drying.
"We are going around prospective customers to gauge interest and then will invite those to an open house in Germany where they can see both machines in action," he says. "The biggest battle when selling B2 is to make sure that you and the customer are comparing apples with apples."
As well as the new Rapida 75 Pro, this becomes more difficult as Heidelberg is introducing the Speedmaster CX75 as a workhorse press partner to its Speedmaster XL75 while Japanese press manufacturers have been able to offer an SRA1 alternative to a B2 press.
Scully adds: "We have to make sure we have the ability to cut through this in terms of price and performance. We are not going to compete with some of the lower cost brands, but are aiming at breaking into the higher productivity segments.
"We know that the market in this sector is changing with printers facing competition from online rivals and digital printing on the other hand."
KBA has traditionally struggled with B2 in the UK, preferring to focus on B1 and larger formats where the Rapida 106 has become established as a leading press in both commercial and carton printing. Consequently there are only a handful of B2 machines in the UK.
The strategy will follow that established in carton printing, where the success of a seven-colour machine at Simply Cartons has helped give other previously non KBA customers the confidence to buy the machine.
And the press itself is taking the concepts and designs from the established larger format machines with common parts and engineering where possible which will keep costs under control and address a key issue of matching price and performance with customer expectations.
"There's a machine in Manchester and they love it," says Scully. "We know it's a good machine that has been thoroughly put through its paces, so will be interesting to see how we get on once we have established a couple of reference sites."
KBA has revamped the Rapida 75 PRO using technology and engineering from its larger presses to produce an all rounder press for commercial B2 printers needing fast turnarounds and shorter runs to compete with digital printing.
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