Germany’s first KBA Performa 74 goes live at Stöckl in Mannheim
German print boutique Stöckle offers a complete range of services from pre-press, digital studio photography, offset and digital print production to finishing and logistics. Established more than 70 years ago, the company is still in the hands of the founding family, four of which now run the firm assisted by five employees. In mid-February Stöckl replaced an ageing four-colour press with a KBA Performa 74 five-colour for the same sheet size.
Helmut Stöckl is delighted with his new KBA Performa 74
The original intention had been to buy a low-cost second-hand press offering slimline, scratch-free sheet travel, double-size impression and transfer cylinders and the ability to print board weights up to 400gsm (20pt). Managing director Helmut Stöckl had fond memories of an SR0 2K supplied by Koenig & Bauer some years previously, which was superseded by the four-colour press. So at the Druck+Form trade fair in Sinsheim in November 2005 he called at the stand of KBA dealer DMS and watched by a demo of a Performa 74. Much impressed, all thoughts of going second-hand flew out the window when his local KBA dealer and longstanding business acquaintance, Karlsruhe-based Werner Grunert, made him an offer he could not refuse for a brand-new Performa 74 five-colour.
For Helmut Stöckl and press operator Martin Lautenschläger the Performa’s sophisticated technology is key to a fine print quality
But a budget price does not equate with a poor performance: far from it. “Semi-automatic plate changing in just sixty seconds per printing unit, remote register adjustment (diagonal included), an IR dryer in the delivery, automatic ink-roller and blanket washing, touch-screen monitors at the press and console, CIP3 preset for ink keys and a rated output of 13,000 sheets per hour – all in all, makeready and printing are over twice as fast as before,” says Helmut Stöckel. Within a week or two it became apparent that the usual volume of work was too small to keep the Performa 74 running, even in just one shift per day. “The higher speed and flexibility it delivered meant we could drum up more work among existing customers, and this has enabled us to utilise the press to its full capacity.” But Stöckl has no truck with landing contracts at cut-throat prices just to keep the press busy.
Martin Lautenschläger can’t imagine life without the convenient touch-screen control
While on the subject of speed and flexibility, one of the Performa 74’s biggest assets is its fifth printing unit, which enables a full-solid aqueous coating to be applied on demand. In conjunction with the IR dryer this allows prints to be tumbled or finished much faster. On top of which oil-based spot coatings can be applied in offset registration. Also, the ink can remain in the three other units when a two-colour job entails black and a spot.
“Can’t image life without it”
The space-saving Performa 74 is just 1.6m (63in) wide
Since he completed his training over 20 years ago under master printer Helmut Stöckl, the Performa is the first press with monitors and touch-screen controls that Martin Lautenschläger has operated, and he is just as delighted as his boss. “Initially it took some getting used to, but it is so convenient that now I can’t imagine life without it.” He is also full of praise for the fine print quality delivered by the press, which was built by KBA-Grafitec in the Czech Republic. Full-solid prints with cut-outs reveal the uniformity of the inking, and there is no scratching or smearing when printing stiff substrates like chromo or metallised board.
Polyester plates ideal
Since run lengths typically range between 1,000 and 2,000 sheets, with 5,000 the absolute maximum, there was no need to install a new platesetter specifically for the Performa. The existing Linotype-Hell Herkules imagesetters were perfectly adequate because they can also image polyester plates. The only new item of equipment that had to be added was a Jorg RIP with the relevant raster algorithms. The polyester plates supplied by Mitsubishi have a service life of 20,000 impressions. Martin Lautenschläger confirmed that the Performa’s high-precision automatic mounting and clamping system had no trouble handling polyester plates, even though these are more difficult to bend that aluminium plates.
A two-storey extension was recently added to the press hall at Stöckl in Mannheim
Broad product spectrum
The reception hall features some fine product samples
Some 60% of the company’s clientele are in industry and banking, the remaining 40% agencies. “Previously we also had a lot of Mannheim authorities on our books, but now they have to put up all their print contracts to tender throughout the EU, German printers don’t stand a chance,” says Helmut Stöckl. For a small-scale operation Stöckl has an exceptionally broad product spectrum. Promotional brochures, folders, direct mailshots of all kinds, posters from A2 to 18/1, floor stickers, displays, banners (textile included), sample books and publishing literature are printed on the Performa, on a small two-colour offset press or a digital press.
Maria Stöckl is in charge of pre-press
Two letterpress machines are on hand for contour punching, perforating etc. The finishing department is equipped with a guillotine, a 20-station collator with folding unit and saddle stitcher, a folding machine, a glue-binder, a sorter with booklet maker, a paper drill and a laminator for inkjet prints up to 1.8m (71in) wide. For mailshots there is a KonicaMinolta bizhub pro laser system for print personalisation and EAN encoding (which allows the scanner-based evaluation of responses to mailing campaigns) plus an automatic envelope insertion system. Gimmicks such as samples, bags of jelly bears or balloons, for enhancing response rates, can be glued to the mailshots with a glue gun. Some fulfilment work that bigger operations will often not take on is done manually.
Standardised pre-press and press
Michael Stöckl soon mastered the PDF-X/3 workflow, colour management, digital photography and standardisation
Michael Stöckl, a master compositor and computer expert, is in charge of database systems, website designs for customers and workflow design. He has installed a PuzzleFlow modular PDF workflow system that functions with absolute accuracy, from the assignment of ICC profiles to preflight checks as per PDF-X/3 standards to database links for personalised mailings. The digital sheet impositions are processed in JorgRIP, which not only generates exposure-like data for forme proofs but also creates CIP3/PPF data for presetting the Performa’s ink keys. The press is even CIP4/JDF-compliant, but JDF implementation would be superfluous in a company of this size, where scheduling is relatively simple. Electronic dockets are perfectly adequate as a means of feedback.
At the delivery, which also supports nonstop pile changes, the press is controlled via a touch-screen monitor like the one at the console
But even in a small company, standardisation is essential for delivering quality cost-effectively. Plate exposure characteristics are monitored regularly using grey scale wedges measured densitometrically on a test print off the Performa. Colour fidelity during impression is checked using a Techkon RS 400 scan densitometer which was part of the package supplied by Grunert. For an enterprise like Stöckl, the KBA Performa represents the perfect combination of customisation and flexibility.
The infeed pile can be changed on the fly