Tried & tested: Komori Lithrone S29

By Helen Morris, Wednesday 27 October 2010

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The development of the B2 plus Komori Lithrone S29 series was an extension of the highly automated B1 Lithrone S40 series and the B2 Lithrone 28 series.


Komori Lithrone S29

Philip Dunn, Komori’s European marketing manager, explains that, over many years, it has been "Komori’s regular practice to develop larger-format presses first and then migrate the features to the smaller-sheet machines".

Having added several new features to the Lithrone 40 range to create the S models, Dunn says it was a natural progression to add these features to the B2 Lithrones. These were launched in 2006, with a five-colour model and a 10-colour perfecting model shown at Ipex that year.

Dunn explains that the launch recognised growing demand for a slightly but significantly larger sheet size in the B2 marketplace to handle oversize promotional jobs and work such as folders and covers. The Lithrone 28 took sheets up to 520x720mm, but the S29 takes them to 530x750mm.  

Smaller format
Komori incorporated the S features into its Lithrone 26 presses, the designation being S26. Dunn adds that this size of press is still popular in many countries and several printers in the UK are content with this smaller format.

Some of the S series advances include an initial start-up speed of 12,000 sheets per hour (sph), which, Dunn says, ensures that when speed is increased to 16,000sph, there is little further adjustment needed for correct ink and water balance. The ink duct cheeks are of solid brass to ensure that in all conditions there is no distortion that would prevent the ducts returning to a zero-set position when changing from job to job. The press also uses a pre-impregnated cloth for blanket washing, which reduces wash cloth consumption by 50% and cuts blanket washing time to 60 seconds or so.

The main target for the S29 is general commercial operators, but typical Lithrone features such as double-size cylinder configuration have made the press popular in the smaller-format, shorter-run packaging market. Dunn says that the Lithrone’s capability to print on heavier materials at high speed supports this philosophy and, over the past couple of years, with commercial houses anxious to find new markets, the S29 has found favour with general printers adding carton work into their production schedules.

As far as competition is concerned, all the leading manufacturers can offer presses of a similar size to the Lithrone, in particular Heidelberg, KBA and Ryobi. However, Dunn claims that the precision and reliability of the Lithrone, along with the wide choice of options on offer – including semi- and fully automatic plate changing – puts it ahead of the competition in terms of productivity.

"The Lithrone S29’s reputation has been enhanced since Drupa 2008 with the further development of its KHS high-speed makeready system into KHS-AI," he adds. AI stands for ‘advanced interface’ – the system progressively updates the presses setting for ink levels, register and air control, whenever the operator makes changes. It then automatically sets to the latest suitable levels for each new job, taking the press closer and closer to immediate production quality level and reducing waste to a minimum. In fact, Komori claims that, on the majority of jobs, a press with KHS-AI is capable of producing saleable print within 30 or 40 sheets.

There are close to 1,000 Lithrone S29 installations worldwide, covering all models in the range, which start with two-colour machines, through four- five- and six-colours, and include eight- and 10-colour perfectors. Models in the Lithrone S29 range can have coating units – the five-colour with coater being the biggest seller in the UK – and drying units, as well as special packages for carton, UV and plastics applications. A recent addition is the Lithrone SX29, the ‘X’ standing for extra sheet size of 610x750mm – popular in the US. This model is also available with inline cold foiling, embossing, die-cutting and UV coating.

Komori will take machines in part-exchange, but doesn’t offer secondhand presses. Expect to pay a dealer around £350,000–£375,000 for a secondhand S29 with coater.

Max sheet size 530x750mm
Max speed 16,000sph
Footprint Lithrone five-colour S29 with coater: 8.2x3.1m
Weight 19 tonnes
New price four-colour: £350,000/six-colour: £550,000
Secondhand price Five-colour Lithrone S529 with coater: £350,000–£375,000
What to look for General wear and tear

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