The global pandemic has hit commercial printers especially hard. Orders placed by customers in the tourism, hospitality, art & culture and retail sectors, in particular, have dried up across the board. At the same time, print companies are especially dependent on advertising budgets. And yet who is going to kick off a new advertising campaign when they are fighting to make ends meet, and are not even sure that they will survive the crisis? Moreover, the companies will only begin stocking up their advertising budgets once their own economic situation has improved significantly. Many print companies will need to remain patient, as they will only profit from the upswing with a considerable delay.

Even so, there are quite a few print companies that are putting these times of crisis to good use by preparing themselves for challenges to come. They are conducting tests like there’s no tomorrow in the search for new print products, new finishing options, or interesting processing solutions that could help to grow their market share. They are investing in new equipment that will allow them to produce more efficiently, to win over potential customers with perfect quality, and to get themselves set up for the future.

All of which means that there are plenty of reasons why now is a good time to invest. And there is one technology platform which is establishing an ever-stronger foothold among German commercial printers: the Rapi da 106 X – the new high-end printing system for medium formats. 

Three commercial printers with completely different business models have installed the Rapida 106 X as pilot users. With great success, as the first results show.

Fully automated – plate logistics at Krüger Druck & Verlag

Krüger Druck+Verlag, a full-service print provider based in the small town of Merzig in Germany’s Saarland, operates an eight-colour Rapida 106 X for 4-over-4 perfecting with an additional inline coater. The press is integrated into a fully automatic plate logistics system. With operating speeds of up to 20,000 sheets per hour – which also extends to perfecting – the Rapida 106 X now represents the backbone of the company’s production facilities.

Krüger Druck+Verlag prints a large range of different flyers, folders, magazines, books and many other commercial products with either wire stitching or adhesive bindings. The run lengths for many of these products are on the decline, while, in contrast, page counts are simultaneously increasing and the demand for multiple versions and variants is continuing to grow, thereby making fast makeready a decisive advantage. The simultaneous makeready processes, however, make the Rapida 106 X virtually unparalleled in this regard. The modular PlateTronic plate logistics system, which links the platesetter directly to the plate changers on the individual printing units by means of a plate magazine with a capacity for 256 plates, represents another invaluable contribution to production automation.

Printing, coating and die-cutting in one – SDV in Dresden

A fully equipped CutPRO X rotary die-cutter unit for creasing and cutting of the print products has been integrated ahead of the printing units for the Rapida 106 X at SDV in Dresden. It is followed by eight printing units with a convertible perfecting unit for 4-over-4 production, as well as a coater and extended delivery. This configuration allows the press to realise fully automated inline production of high-quality finished direct mail products, all in a single pass. 
The maximum production speed when using the die-cutting unit is 15,000 sheets per hour. It is only when especially demanding substrates, such as lightweight papers, are used that the Rapida 106 X runs a little slower. Alongside the high production speed, which is around 20 per cent higher than the press that was previously installed, SDV enjoys the benefits of the exceptionally short stops for makeready. The managing director's overall impression is that production has become “more stable and more efficient” since using the Rapida 106 X. And this is a good thing, because dialogue marketing is another field where today's jobs are shorter and more diverse than they were in the past. This makes makeready times and high flexibility essential concerns.

The finest in eco-printing – the Arnold group on the outskirts of Berlin

A brand new Rapida 106 X started production for the ARNOLD group in Großbeeren near Berlin at the end of last year. Right from the very first day, the eight-colour press with perfecting unit and an additional coater boosted output by 50 per cent and en. Managing director Max Arnold: “Whenever I come into the press hall, I see the bright red number abled makeready times to be slashed by half 18,000.” And it is not only in terms of speed, but also in regard to its technical features, that the Rapida 106 X meets all the demands of modern, efficient and future-oriented print production.

Alongside its printing facility, the ARNOLD group also operates a pre-press studio and an advertising agency, and all three conduct intensive reviews of each and every process from the perspectives of ecology and sustainability. ‘Think green’ is not just a slogan, but also the company's guiding principle. Process-free plates are used, with production being based solely on alcohol-free printing with mineral-oil-free bio-inks, and green electricity from the company’s own photovoltaic installation contributes to an outstanding ecological footprint.

The journey continues

These three print companies are perfect examples of all the things that modern production methods and high-end technologies can achieve. And, of course, there are many others who have also invested in new Rapida 106 X presses.