Drupa 2024: Koenig & Bauer presents print in networked environment

At Drupa 2024, Koenig & Bauer is presenting its uniquely broad product portfolio and numerous digital innovations to raise print production and post-press finishing to a new level.

28 May 2024 | By Rahul Kumar

The Koenig & Bauer team during its presentation at Drupa 2024

The company is presenting ten brand-new digital products and technologies at Drupa 2024. These innovations are the quintessential contribution by the industry’s oldest manufacturer to the core theme of its latest global get-together, a topic which has never before been so pivotal for the trade fair: the digitalisation of the world of print.

The central point of contact for access to the comprehensive suite of digital products is the myKyana portal, which enables seamless interaction with all digital offers. Each of the digital products integrated into myKyana supports Koenig & Bauer’s customers on their path to more efficiency and profitability. Kyana Connect establishes the fundamental infrastructure for consistent data exchanges and real-time data analysis. By using the performance dashboards that are a feature of Kyana Data, it has never been easier for users to analyse their key production figures.

To be able to handle jobs in record time in the dynamic environment of a modern printshop, immediate support in case of any questions or problems is decisive. This necessity was the driver behind development of the generative artificial intelligence Kyana Assist – one of the highlights of this year’s fair presentations.

Highlight connected packaging 

The live demonstrations of innovative digital products are not the only reasons for future-oriented print companies and brand owners to visit the Koenig & Bauer stand; they also have much to gain from numerous keynotes and panel discussions on business models for the printing world of tomorrow.

One highlight is the daily live show ‘Connected Packaging’ presented by Sandra Wagner, vice-president for digitalisation at Koenig & Bauer. The presentation introduces a platform based on Google Cloud technology where brand owners can store digital information to individualise, personalise and enrich their printed packaging, alongside detailed product and manufacturing specifications. The accompanying app for end consumers acts as a bridge between analogue packaging and the digital world, and making comprehensive product information available to the consumer by way of augmented reality, enhances the shopping experience.

Using the feeder for a Rapida 106 medium-format sheetfed offset press as an example, Koenig & Bauer offers fair visitors a first glimpse of the future with its standardised and modular automation platform and demonstrates real-life predictive maintenance cases and performance dashboards for individual machine components.

The platform is currently still in the development phase, but already shows how Koenig & Bauer intends to respond to global megatrends and lead the group into a new era. In cooperation with Siemens, Koenig & Bauer plans to offer customers a virtual product configuration based on innovative automation technologies and a digital twin of its own production facilities. The objective is to accelerate development and commissioning processes and to raise customer support and after-sales service to a new level. The partnership with Siemens is also eminently important for the development of digital solutions, as the new technology allows the collection and evaluation of even more detailed machine data and information on the condition of machine components.

End-to-end packaging workflow

Koenig & Bauer is bringing a firework display of technical innovations to Düsseldorf to demonstrate an end-to-end packaging workflow from pre-press to printing and die-cutting as well as gluing of the folding cartons. In cooperation with Hybrid Software, it is presenting PrintFusion as a new gateway to control Rapida presses in conjunction with the pre-press software PACKZ and the production workflow suite Cloudflow from Hybrid Software. All presses and machines presented at Drupa – a Rapida 106 X, a VariJET 106, a CutPRO X 106 rotary die-cutter, a CutPRO Q 106 SB flat-bed die-cutter and an Omega Alius 90 folder-gluer – incorporate the very latest features. These features boost performance by at least 20% compared to the predecessor generations and once again set new benchmarks for folding carton production.

In sheetfed offset, the list of innovations kicks off with a further increase in production speed: the current medium-format sheetfed offset press Rapida 106 X (max. sheet format 750/780 × 1,060 mm) prints at speeds up to 22,000 sheets per hour and thereby sets yet another new benchmark in terms of output.

Other innovations for greater automation and added performance include the coating plate changing system CPC+ (Coating Plate Change Plus). It is controlled from the press console and functions fully automatically. Coating supply has also been raised to a new level with VariCoat+. 

Within the Rapida+ product family for automated printing, Koenig & Bauer offers an app called PressTalk that allows operators to communicate via headset, irrespective of where they are currently standing at the press. In addition, AutoGuide provides process-related status information and recommends which action to take – using the console wall screen and as voice messages on the headset.

Several trade fair innovations relate to the measuring and control systems for Rapida presses. The ErgoTronic ExpertScreen presents additional colour control information and frees up space on the console wall screen. QualiTronic Image+makes the incorporation of colour bars on the printed sheet unnecessary. The individual measuring elements can be placed at any position on the sheet, for example on glue flaps or on elements that are going to be stripped. It is also possible to perform measurements in solid areas of scale and spot colours. The elimination of colour bars creates additional space on the sheet and allows better space utilisation. What’s more, QualiTronic Opaque+ permits colour bars printed onto primary colours to be used for measurement and control – for example when pre-printing with an opaque white.

Another tool that is especially interesting for packaging printers is ErgoTronic FormCheck, which allows coating and die-cutting outlines to be projected onto the printed sheet at the console. This permits straightforward visual checks of whether the coating and die-cutting forms align with the printed image.

In-house development of the new VariDry+ and VariDryBlue+ dryer generation unleashes important potential for savings in the energy-intensive drying process, as Koenig & Bauer’s contribution to more sustainability in printing.

High-volume digital inkjet web printing 

Koenig & Bauer is showing various ground-breaking applications for the RotaJet digital web press at Drupa. The main focus lies on digital decor printing and high-volume inkjet packaging production. As a special highlight, the products interact directly with Koenig & Bauer’s digital AI solutions. At the same time, they will be protected on the basis of ValiPack solutions from Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions. Further folding carton products, drinks cartons and high-volume inkjet applications are on show on the Koenig & Bauer stand and will be processed on the BW Papersystems stand.

Koenig & Bauer Durst  

Another highlight that can be seen in public for the first time is the VariJet 106 press from joint venture Koenig & Bauer Durst. This new development combines the global experience and know-how of both partners. It will feature in several production runs throughout the fair and is now also available with additional coater units. The print samples produced on the VariJet 106 showcase a wide range of applications such as pharmaceutical, healthcare and cosmetics products, as well as food and beverage packaging.

Sustainable solutions  

Demand-based production, reduced resource consumption and optimised print processes are top priorities across the entire Koenig & Bauer Group. CEO Dr Andreas Pleßke predicts: “The subject will be a defining factor for the whole industry in future because in our business sustainability goes hand in hand with lower costs.” 

Koenig & Bauer supports its worldwide customers as a sustainability enabler and helps them to achieve their sustainability and efficiency goals. Various eco-components and innovative technical solutions contribute to lower carbon emissions by reducing the consumption of energy, paper, board, plastic films, inks, coatings and other substrates and consumables. On sheetfed offset presses, use of the VariDryBlue+ technology can reduce the energy input for drying by up to 35%. QualiTronic inline measuring and control systems reduce the consumption of substrates and consumables associated with the colour workflow by up to 30%. On metal decorating presses, gas cost savings of up to 70% are possible by using the HighEcon drying technology. When it comes to banknote printing on an intaglio press, ink consumption can be reduced by up to 25% as well with a special approach to ink application. These examples show that there is no conflict of interest between sustainability and profitability in the print industry and that sustainability activities are in fact a powerful lever when it comes to lowering the costs of print production.