Product of the Week: KBA Rapida 75E

Jo Francis
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

KBA says that 'E' stands for energy and ecology and promises users will see savings in terms of power consumption. Jo Francis checks over the details

KBA hopes to make more headway in the hotly contested B2 market with the latest version of its Rapida range, the Rapida 75E.

Originally launched at Drupa 2008 in a relatively basic configuration, and with a top speed of 15,000sph, KBA chose the next big international exhibition to take the wraps off the revamped version. At Ipex it showed the 75E under a banner that proclaimed it to be ‘the energy-saving champion’ and to provide ‘the best value in its class’.

KBA says the ‘E’ stands for both economy and ecology. The Ipex machine was fitted with a special display that showed how much electricity was being used during demonstrations, evidence of how keen KBA is to highlight the amount of power required by the machine; the company claims this can be as much as a 50% less than some rival presses.

"Power is becoming a big issue, and with this press we range between 50% and 15% less consumption than the competition," says Mark Nixon, executive sales director at KBA UK. "At Ipex, people were very interested in this aspect. Energy costs are going up massively; some of the projections we’ve seen for the next six years are predicting increases of 40%. If that’s the case, power is going to play a very big part in the usage costs of a product," he states.

Nixon reports that the power usage issue has also struck a chord with firms that don’t have enough power on tap to run some competing presses, and can’t afford the additional investment for a new substation to enable them to do so.

Pinning down a likely return on investment from this aspect of the press’s performance will depend on shift patterns, but Nixon says some customers could be looking at a £60,000-£70,000 saving on annual electricity bills.

The power consumption debate warrants an entire article in its own right, and potential purchasers will need to analyse claims carefully. Heidelberg, for example, states that the only real way to analyse how much power is being used on a like-for-like basis is to work out overall consumption as a cost per copy – the number of sheets actually produced.

Another thing the Rapida 75E needs less of is space, around 30% less on average than rival models according to KBA, and the manufacturer reckons space is at a premium for most potential customers in the commercial print sector. "It can mean the difference between people being able to have a fifth colour or coater, or not," Nixon says.

2,000 upgrades
What else is new on the revamped 75E? Nixon cites some 2,000 changes and says it has effectively been rebuilt using a different set of criteria. At Ipex the demonstration focused on a number of key points: the press is faster, with a top speed of 16,000sph compared to 15,000sph on the old model. The range of substrates it can print onto has also been extended, from 0.04mm to 0.8mm, so it can handle slightly thicker stock than before, when the top limit was 0.6mm. Perfecting is a newly-available option for the model, too.

The 75E also has an improved feeder and at the delivery end a new suction drum promises even smoother transfer through the swan neck. As with the earlier model, KBA has continued its policy of bringing know-how gleaned from its larger-format machines to this smaller format. "If you can handle a sheet measuring 3sqm, you can handle a B2 sheet," the manufacturer quips while extolling the virtues of its sheet transfer system.

One of the other features that Nixon highlights as a particular strength of the press in day-to-day operation is the single-train inking unit. "Because of the roller formation it receives a colour change much quicker than presses with longer, more complex ink trains," he explains.

Automation has been a hot topic on presses of all sizes for the past few years, although Nixon believes the ultra-fast makeready imperative with B2 "is not quite the same as it is on B1" and describes some rival models as "over-specified". "This press is as automated as we believe is required in the market. What’s interesting is, we find that the time difference between producing 10 jobs is virtually nil, so you don’t need to spend that extra money. A lot of automation can be purchased that doesn’t actually pay back."

The Rapida 75E comes with semi-automatic plate changing, but has a fully automatic job changeover facility so the settings and makeready actions for the next job can be plugged in while a job is in process. Colour control, featuring a fully automatic scanning densitometer, is located at the back end of the press.

Fierce rivalry
The B2 market is a very competitive space, with a wide array of alternatives, and KBA knows it has a tough battle on its hands if it wants to significantly increase its market share. It has two users of the original 75 in the Republic of Ireland, with another two UK customers in the pipeline for the 75E. And in mid-February it will also be taking a party of potential UK customers to see the machine in action at an open house in Dresden.

So what does KBA view as the main strengths for its model in this crowded market? "This is a very functional, robust and affordable press," Nixon states.

"The B2 market is very disparate, and we compete with all the presses out there. But we are getting much more active in this market and in a more aggressive way. We are very excited to have this product."

Max sheet size
530x750mm (standard)
605x750mm (optional)
Min sheet size
330x330mm (350x330mm when perfecting)
Number of colours
from two to eight, plus coating unit
Min/max substrate weight
Max speed
16,000 sheets per hour
five-colour, circa £500,000
£5,500-£6,000 per month on a seven-year leasing deal
KBA UK 01923 819922


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