Windles fires up new Rapida

Podmore (second left): "The real advantage is it’s a modern machine."
Podmore (second left): "The real advantage is it’s a modern machine."

Windles Group has installed its first Koenig & Bauer press as the greetings card specialist ramps up its sustainability push.

The Rapida 106 X has six units and a coater, with a perfector after the first unit. It is equipped with Simultaneous Plate Change for sub-40 second changeovers, and an extended delivery with K&B’s VariDry Blue technology. This is expected to deliver energy savings of up to 30% when drying.

The 106 X also has four LED UV lamps that can be positioned where required on the press, which can print conventionally or UV.

Thame-based Windles had previously been an all-Heidelberg house for its litho printing setup. It also runs HP Indigo digital presses and a raft of specialist post-press kit.

Managing director Bruce Podmore said the firm had been printing onto specialist and tricky impervious substrates using UV for more than 20 years.

He described K&B’s drying tech as “a good eight years ahead of the competition” and praised the manufacturer for its “can-do attitude”.

Podmore also said that K&B executive board member Ralf Sammeck had been actively involved with the project “as he felt personally so engaged with what we were trying to do”.

“Ralf impressed me hugely as a man and in his interest in Windles. He really understood the importance of us conveying our values to our customers and the industry.”

Installation of the new press, which involved a total investment of around £3m, began in March with training completed earlier this month.

Podmore said the Rapida’s speed and accuracy on colour matching had swung the investment decision in K&B’s favour, along with the energy-saving aspect of its UV drying setup.

“The real advantage is it’s a modern machine. You tell it the target colour values you want and it goes straight to them,” Podmore said.

“We’re not into long run jobs, we’re into short runs – our average run is 5,200 sheets, so we need the machine to come to colour as quickly as possible. Also worthy of mention is its ability to multi-task – you tell it to clean its blankets and impression cylinders and plate up, and it can perform all these functions in one go.”

The Rapida replaces a six-colour plus coater B1 Speedmaster at the firm’s 4,090sqm factory.

Windles has put in place a variety of environmental initiatives under the umbrella of its own Loop-It scheme, which involves assessing every element of the business and sharing its knowledge with clients.

The energy-saving aspects of the new press formed a key part of the decision and tied in with the Loop-It ethos.

The £12.5m, 135 employee firm is also planning to install a one megawatt wind turbine at its site, with a feasibility study underway.

Koenig & Bauer UK managing director Chris Scully said the project had “fired up everyone’s imagination” because it was a clean sheet from the outset.

“Windles came to us with a list of things they wanted to achieve and an open mind as to how to do it… they have big plans for their eco business,” Scully said.

“Joining them on their journey has been a stimulating and enjoyable experience for us all and we feel very proud to be contributing to their success in this. I personally can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Image shows a team from Windles seeing their new press being constructed at K&B's Radebeul facility. Left to right: operations director designate Robert Peters, Bruce Podmore, print manager Norman Coyde, and management trainee Miles Podmore.