28 June 2020 Analogue Printing Technologies

Koenig & Bauer says X hits the spot

Koenig & Bauer has unveiled the highly automated Rapida 106 X sheetfed press, upping the ante for both commercial and carton presses.

The black glass covered side frames, shaped like super large iPhones, are the first thing that catches the eye. The second is the new two-tone grey livery. Koenig & Bauer has dropped its traditional blue on the livery for the new Rapida X models, 106 presses for both commercial and carton printing and a 76 for niche applications, including pharmaceutical and high value cosmetics boxes.

This is a ground up design, saysKoenig & Bauer, begun five years ago and developed in consultation with customers about what they needed from a printing press. The feedback has been built in to the new machine along with a number of features that printers surely did not think of, or believe practical.

To a large extent the new generation machine is a hands off press – the operator is there to supervise job changeovers – such is the level of automation, but it is also a systems oriented machine that is part of an end to end workflow. For example, the make ready gains make the most sense when the press is connected into an MIS combining the flow of jobs with decisions taken on scheduling taken by Job Optimiser software on the press.

Most businesses will schedule according to delivery times, the job needed soonest is the first to be printed. In the new normal, the Job Optimiser will take into account the requirement for wash ups, the number of print units needed, coaters, chosen substrates and, on suitable packaging presses, whether foiling is required. In this way set up times can be minimised in a way that it is impossible for fag packet scheduling to match.

For carton presses, there is also the impact on finishing to take into account. It may make sense to batch together jobs that share the same cutting form, if makeready on the platen is longer than on press. Koenig & Bauer’s answer to this is the CutPro 106, one of the many new products to have had a digital debut instead of a Drupa launch. This is a sheetfed finishing press that can included embossing, cutting and creasing, stripping and blanking at press speeds, making it the fastest die cutter for carton jobs available.

Back with the Rapida, the developers have focused on removing the details that can cause production stops and so slow job changeovers. Thus the feeder has server controlled pick ups designed to ensure sheets are fully separated before delivery to the SIS infeed.

Simultaneous plate changing will now remove and load plates in less than a minute. A change to the design means that it is no longer necessary to bend plates before loading. For the highest volume online trade printers, Koenig & Bauer has developed a plates logistics system as an extra level of automation. On exit from a platesetter, the plate is loaded into a set storage location from where a hanger with grippers on each end can remove the plate. The hanger travels on an overhead rail to the position above the press, lowering the plate into position and removing the old plate.

This can only be justified by those handling hundreds of short run jobs a day – and who have the factory space needed. “It reduces stress for the operators,” says Koenig & Bauer head of sheetfed technology Dirk Winkler. “We have questioned a lot of things, improved things that are already very good and added new functions to this press that are only available from Koenig & Bauer.

“The result is the the fastest perfector (and carton press) on the market and a new dimension for sheetfed printing presses,” he says.

Both carton versions and perfecting machines will run at 20,000sph, with the aim to improve OEE by automating the processes that sap machine availability. From the last sheet printed in one job to the first good sheet in the next can take 1’50” with between 25-50 sheets of run up waste.

Simultaneous roller washing will choose the appropriate solvent to apply for fast cleaning or keeping cleaning of ink rollers, blanket and impression cylinders, all controlled via the job parameters. There is an EasyClean ink duct option that can switch colours in two minutes, again useful for carton printers. A carton printer can also opt for an automatic blanket tensioning system to prevent any risk of ghosting.

The new version of Qualitronic will monitor every sheet and make adjustments every ten sheets based on an average of the ten readings to prevent cloud wandering. A further set of cameras and can be used for PDF Check to compare the printed sheet against the signed off PDF.

In the same vein, maintenance times have been radically reduced. On a six-colour press, around 200 greasing points have been removed as lubricant is pumped around the press. Gripper bars have sealed bearing units which should need no maintenance and the delivery chain is kept lubricated by a progressive lubrication system.

A new operator console is illuminated by LEDs for consistent illumination values, the wall screen display shows the progress of any of the makeready functions, with a countdown clock showing how long remains in that task. During this phase there is no need to intervene, the role of the operator being to supervise, rather than run, the machine.

This is extended into a neon lit logo on the delivery of the press that changes colour according to press status, which is easily seen from a distance across the press hall.

The Rapida App will perform much of the same functionality on a hand held device. All information that is available at the press console can be accessed through the app, along with Optimiser to connect to an MIS and provide a view over the factory to someone on the road.

The smartphone will also serve as a video camera used for communicating with engineers while sorting a mechanical issue, and will feed live data to a production manager. This can include a calculation of how much ink is left in a duct from the area coverage on a sheet and the number of sheets printed. And while the side frames may be taking styling cues from an iPhone, an Apple device is not necessary for this task.

Overview of the CutPro X 106

The Koenig & Bauer CutPro X 106 rotary die cutter has the same look and feel as the Rapida press, four iPhone shaped frames with feeder and delivery, but its function is to emboss, die cut and deliver piles of finished blanks or labels at the same speed as print.

The line bristles with technology to be the finishing mirror of the press, using cameras and servo motors to manage the accuracy of sheet positioning, of the embossing dies, negative and positive creasing and cutting dies to within 15 micron accuracy.

The line will run at 15,000sph initially. The feeder is the same as the Rapida running at 20,000sph with the same SIS positioning system leading into the first unit.

This is an embossing unit with dies attached to upper and lower cylinders to an accuracy of 15 microns. This is both more accurate and three times faster than a conventional flatbed die cutter, using the same male and female die system.

The second unit is for creasing, offering both positive and negative creasing rules from a plate that is imaged, etched and then polished. The plate has a pair of lugs to position it in register on pins on the cylinder, a system that Koenig & Bauer calls ‘click to cut’. The cutting unit will likewise use the same register system and a soft polymer plate for the cutting die to press into.

The fourth unit is for stripping. The plates for this can be cut from a suitable sheet on a flatbed cutting table as well as being supplied by a trade house. The upper plate includes raised areas to punch out the unwanted material while the lower has recessed sections for waste to be pushed into. It also includes holes for a vacuum to suck out waste in the first instance and then blow it free as the cylinder rotates for the next sheet.

The sheets are delivered to a nonstop feeder where every 40-50mm of sheets becomes a stack which is manoeuvred on a conveyor into position beneath the blanking head which lifts the remaining waste away from the now separate stacks of carton blanks. These are delivered to a pallet where a slip sheet is inserted after every two stacks to add to stability of the entire pallet of blanks ready for a carton folder glueing line.

The CutPro X 106 is a single-man operation whose task, as with the new presses, is less to actually run anything than it is to monitor what is going on.

The dies are held in place by powerful magnets, positioned with reference to the original PDF. This is used to identify areas for stripping.