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Under the Hood

Koenig & Bauer Rapida 145

With the latest changes made to the Koenig & Bauer Rapida 145, Brian Sims analyses how the machine from the world’s oldest press manufacturer continues to improve since its inception in 2012

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Koenig & Bauer first introduced the Rapida 145 at DRUPA in 2012

Setting the standard 

It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only smaller technology companies are at the forefront of innovation and development. Quite often the headlines are dedicated to this type of company, who in truth, have found new technologies to revolutionise the printing world or modify and miniaturise the things we use.

However, it would be wrong to think that small companies are alone in pressing forward product design and process improvements. This month, Print Monthly has taken the covers off one of the largest pieces of printing equipment you are likely to find, the Rapida 145 from Koenig & Bauer.

Whilst you could be fooled into thinking these large pieces of cast iron and steel have not moved forward over the years, even an occasional glance at them shows these products are moving forward just as dramatically as any other innovative printer or press a tenth the size.

Since its introduction the Rapida 145 has set standards for both production and quality

Since its introduction, the Rapida 145 has set standards for both production and quality as you would expect from the world’s oldest printing press manufacturer. The splash the press made at DRUPA in 2012 where it was the largest sheet fed press in the Düsseldorfer Messe is still being felt.

So what is the main thrust behind the design team in Würburg and what were they trying to achieve with the changes to the Rapida 145?

It goes without saying that we live in a highly competitive world and as such any investment we make needs to give a quick and responsive return on investment (ROI). Presses that take too long to prepare, take too much time to get to good copy and cannot adapt to the changing world known as a client base, it not going to provide a suitable ROI.

So, what has Koenig & Bauer done to help you make the decision that this is the press you need?

Basically, without devaluing the work done and complexity of the equipment, the press design team has made massive inroads to making this machine as productive as possible with the least amount of operator intervention. This lack of intervention means the most valuable asset a company has, its people, are able to complete associated production tasks simultaneously with the press as it prepares itself.

There are a number of changes that takes the operational speed of the press to 18,000s p/h

The second element of improvement is with the level of production. There are a number of changes that takes the operational speed of the press to 18,000 sheets per hour in optional mode. Speed itself is nothing without sustainability; Koenig & Bauer has also prepared updates to the press that ensure production is not interrupted by paper jams or miss-feeding for instance.

In the details

Anyone who has had anything to do with the design or manufacture of a press, or for that matter have run one, knows the most difficult area of the process is the collection and delivery of the sheet to the press. At this point you are lifting, separating and firing forward a rather unstable piece of material.

The 145 is now capable of running at 18,000 sheets per hour

Koenig & Bauer has completed an overhaul of the feeder head so it is now capable of running at the high speeds noted (18,000s p/h) with the help of the DriveTronic dedicated drive system. To help with the lifting of the pile and keep the sheets running without hindrance, Koenig & Bauer has added a stepless motor system to ensure the smoothest of transition through the stack. To further assist with the pile transition, you can select either front or rear of the pile height sensor position.

All of the sensors on the infeed and feeder are controlled through Koenig & Bauer’s ErgoTronic operating system, meaning when you have found the optimum running criteria, you can save them and recall them when needed.

The new infeed system has control over all elements of the sheet’s passage through this most troublesome of section of the press via the use of multiple photoelectric sensors. There are sheet arrival, sidelay and multiple sheet sensors all feeding information back to the ErgoTronic console.

Just before the sheet enters the press, Koenig & Bauer has replaced the more traditional sidelay with a contactless version. Koenig & Bauer claims this gives better control over the sheet; the basis of this being is there is more time to align the sheet which reduces the window of error as the feeder, infeed and sidelay are all coupled and monitored in this Sensoric Infeed System.

The press design team has made inroads into making this machine as productive as possible

The print quality of any of the large press manufacturers is taken for granted and all of them produce presses that can print dot sharp print at the highest of speeds.  As such, Koenig & Bauer has sensibly stuck with the basic design of the printing unit itself.

Koenig & Bauer has however made changes to the ink duct itself to improve press efficiency. The new EasyClean duct has a special coating to improve the changing of ink; it helps with the speed of ink removal and cleaning of the duct itself.

The advantages in the press unit however are with the plate changing systems available. There are three to choose from, each giving you various improvements in makeready times. SAPC is an entry-level automatic plate changing system needing operator input, FAPC is a fully automated plate changing system that does not need operators to do anything but place the plates in the cassettes, and finally DriveTronic SPC which is a simultaneous plate changing system. Each of the units declutch and each plate is mounted to the press unit at the same time; elapse time one minute 40 seconds.

Keep it clean

Another area for the designers to turn their attention to is the cleaning devices used. As with the printing units, the blanket and impression cylinder washing can be done under a number of combinations.

Depending on configuration, you can have a single fixed blanket washing unit known as CleanTronic. This will clean the blanket cylinder in serial operation. You can also ask for a cleaning head for the Rapida 145 that will swing from impression cylinder to blanket cylinder. Finally you can seek to maximise the cleaning capacity by adding both fixed and swing version to the press. This can allow for synchronised cleaning of blanket and impression cylinders via CleanTronic Synchro and half the time of blanket washing by using the two heads (fixed and swing) together.

The last element of cleaning: the rollers can also be completed in parallel with the other cleaning functions. These interconnected makeready functions have been cleverly linked together, minimising how much time this press is not in production.

Koenig & Bauer has spent a lot of time and money driving out waste in the non-productive elements of press time, makeready. Added to this they can supply equipment such as QualiTronic, PrintCheck and double deliveries, each will ensure the maximum amount of production is of the highest quality.

Quite clearly, highly productive equipment is not the sole preserve of hi-tech companies; the Rapida 145 is evidence of this.     

Brian Sims principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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