Koenig & Bauer (KBA) has pioneered the keyless inking technology for many decades. Waste-saving keyless inking units, which do away with cumbersome roller trains, were already used in anilox letterpress, flexo and anilox offset web presses in the 1980s and 1990s. In the field of waterless offset, they are today to be found in the sheetfed Genius 52 UV and in the quality-acclaimed compact newspaper press KBA Cortina.

The know-how which has been accumulated over many years of practical implementation is in future to benefit also the metal packaging branch. At the METPACK 2017 trade show in Essen (Hall 3, Stand B 39), Stuttgart-based KBA-MetalPrint GmbH is presenting the CS MetalCan, a new printing system specifically for mass beverage can production, which was engineered together with fellow subsidiary KBA-Digital & Web Solutions in Würzburg and is now to be marketed under the new label CanSolutions. With its 10 keyless inking units for an indirect letterset process, automatic plate and blanket changers and many further innovations, the CS MetalCan is set to redefine the standards in beverage can decorating.

New field of application in high-speed production

The CS MetalCan further expands the portfolio of printing solutions offered to the metal decorating branch by KBA-MetalPrint. In combination with the drying systems CS PinOven and CS BeltOven, KBA-MetalPrint now offers complete printing solutions for the 2-piece market segment, complementing its already strong standing in the production of 3-piece cans.

The keyless inking units of the CS MetalCan have been specially adapted to the demands and production conditions of beverage can decorating. High-performance motors are the basis for a maximum rated speed of 2,500 cpm.

New standards for makeready processes

Analyses of beverage can production have identified the decorating process as the bottleneck in integrated line production. Long job changeover times  constantly result in interruptions for the entire line. Through the automation of plate and blanket changing, job changeovers are faster than ever before, and line stoppages can be avoided. Each printing unit is provided with its own automatic plate changer, enabling plates to be changed parallel to each other in less than one minute. Furthermore, the 12 blankets on the central blanket wheel can also be changed simultaneously. This enables the operator to concentrate on the essential quality-related aspects of the makeready process.

Benefits for users and brand owners

In addition to faster job changes, the increased level of automation of the CS MetalCan translates into significantly improved safety for the operator. Where manual tasks used to be necessary inside the machine, the operator can now simply select intuitive commands via the 24-inch touchscreen display.

The unique number of 10 inking units opens up a whole new spectrum of options for brand owners, answering the modern trend towards increasingly colourful and more complex can designs.

Robust growth of the beverage can market

The volume of the beverage can market is estimated to be around 320 billion units per year (2015), with a healthy CAGR of approx. 3%. In mature markets like the USA, per capita consumption lies between 300 and 350 cans per year. Germany is a very small market due to the deposit legislation which applies to beverage cans, but is nevertheless displaying significant growth in the meantime.

With the new CS MetalCan, KBA-MetalPrint offers an outstanding solution for the highly demanding process of beverage can decorating. With this new development, the KBA Group is continuing its successful strategy of portfolio expansion to serve the growing packaging market.

Benefits of the CS MetalCan at a glance:

  • Significantly faster makeready processes
  • Improved safety for the operator
  • Higher line output
  • Enhanced image quality and more colours in a single machine
  • Significantly higher ink transfer stability over the production run
  • Reduced spoilage during job changes and in case of line stoppages.