KBA Continues to Hold Global Large Format Position
WILLISON, Vt.—KBA North America’s wide range of LF presses—from 51-inch up to 81-inch—offers printers of commercial, books, displays, posters, and packaging customized LF presses with advanced technology.
Technological advances revive demand
At Drupa 1995, KBA’s launch of large-format Rapida presses showcased advances in makeready, automation, manning, ease of operation and net output, closing the quality gap to medium format even though the sheets are three to four times as big. KBA not only increased its market share in core applications, such as packaging and book printing, but moved into the commercial market too. By Drupa 2004, KBA’s new superlarge-format models attracted a raft of orders from poster printers, whose run lengths are typically ultra-short, as well as from book printers and commercial printers, who were typically running only 40˝ presses up to that point.
Commercial printers are drawn to the large format size because a large-format sheet can accommodate 32, 48, or 64 pages, as opposed to just 16 on a 41˝ sheet. Packaging printers are also benefitting from the efficiency gains that large format can deliver: depending on the size of the packaging, where three blanks would fit on a 41˝ sheet, a Rapida 142 or Rapida 162 can print as many as eight. As an added bonus, LF printers can offer their customers the added-value benefit of single-source production, i.e. of commercials or packaging plus associated posters or displays.
Some 900 large-format Rapidas in just over 10 years
Since Drupa 1995, KBA has shipped almost 900 LF presses with a total of around 7,000 printing units. The most popular choice is the Rapida 162 (340 installations), closely followed by the Rapida 142 (320), which is a favorite among packaging printers and, increasingly, among commercial printers by virtue of the fact that the print format is twice that of a 41-inch press. Over the last three years these have been joined by shipments of some 40 VLF Rapida 185 and 205 presses. Presses shipped between 1995 and 2000 averaged five printing and coating units, but this has since increased to six as the market has evolved. And while there is still a demand for simple four- and five-color presses, there has been a noticeable shift towards presses with ten or more printing, coating and drying units, a high level of automation and all the attendant whistles and bells.