This year the needs of tobacco industry printing and converting are very much in tune with the marketing music playing at Drupa 2012, which bills itself as the largest and most important trade fair for the print and media sector.
For 13 days from 3 May, the exhibition grounds in the German city of Düsseldorf will play host to approximately 1,850 exhibitors from 50 countries. Of that number, 647 will display products for post-press and paper converting. More than 330 exhibitors will offer inks, coatings and consumables and about half that number market paper and substrates.
Smaller and more numerous runs that have characterised tobacco packaging in many, but not all, countries in recent years are becoming industry-wide norms, say Drupa organisers.
They promise more versatile machines to trade fair visitors this year. Versatile both in terms of performance spectrum and how fast the machines can be redirected.
Tobacco products long have been held to strict ecological standards for inks and cigarette board. Those standards are gaining wider acceptance, particularly in the developing world, and will be a highlight at the trade fair.
“Everything the global print and media industry has to offer will be represented,” promises Werner Dornscheidt, president and chief executive officer of Messe Düsseldorf, the fair organiser.
“Much of what is presented in May 2012 will still be visions of things to come,” Dornscheidt said in remarks printed in an event publication. “Most of the innovations, on the other hand, are fully fledged, tried-and-tested, and will be running in almost production-like conditions.”
Is the crisis over?
Real-time simulation is a Drupa hallmark. It is the reason why the fair extends over nearly two weeks. Setting up what organisers say will be the world’s biggest printing house for 13 days is not worth the expense for the average fair lifetime. Neither is holding the fair every year. That's why Drupa is held only once every four years.
Drupa orders normally provide a shot in the arm for printing companies.
This fair will be closely watched against the background of the world financial crisis of 2008/09.
At Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, the world's largest press manufacturer, the crisis continues. This year the company said it would cut production by 15 per cent and put employees on a 31.5-hour week with cuts in pay.
Competitor Manroland declared insolvency before a British engineering group stepped in with an offer announced in February to buy Manroland's sheet-fed printing unit.
This year also has brought good news for press manufacturers. In March, Heidelberger Druck said it will supply what will become China’s longest sheet-fed offset press to a tobacco client, Shanghai Tobacco Package Printing Co. The 14-unit, UV-equipped Speedmaster XL 105 will allow 10-colour printing. The configuration can print both interiors and exteriors of cigarette packs.
Although its 5,300 employees represent less than one third of the Heidelberger Druck workforce, Swiss-based Bobst makes web-fed gravure presses for large tobacco printing jobs and converting units for folding carton and flexible materials.
Bobst presses account for about 80 per cent of gravure tobacco printing in developed countries and 60 to 70 per cent in emerging markets excluding China, said Erik Bothorel, head of the web-fed unit.
To understand Bobst domination it helps to go back in history to the 1965 acquisition of Champlain, because a lot of those machines are still in operation, Bothorel said. Champlain’s base in Roseland, New Jersey, now houses Bobst North America.
At Drupa and at two sites elsewhere in Europe, Bobst will display a mix of new machinery and improvements on existing equipment. For visitors willing to travel to Italy, a new configuration of the Rotomec 4003HS press for shaftless cylinders can be viewed at Rotomec in S. Giorgio Monferrato. The press has a twin trolley system to improve ink logistics, reduce preparation time and waste. The high-speed printer can handle 500 metres per minute.
The Rotomec 4003 is the most popular machine in its class on the market, according to Eric Pavone. business director for the web-fed unit, The quick-change chucking system isn’t likely to tarnish that moniker.
Among the many other exhibitors of gravure presses is H.C. Moog, which specialises in sheet-fed gravure presses well suited for package-enhancement applications in high-end products.
This year the company is showing an upgraded version of the 1-TBR-Compact 740/1040mm. The press is a single station for pre- or post-processing offline production and for smaller jobs in gravure.
Moog presses, either in multi-colour configurations for complete gravure productions, or in the single-unit version, perform premium applications on cardboard, paper and synthetic materials, ie; metallic and non.metallic pigment effects in all sizes of bronze, gold, silver, pearl and so on. The unit can varnish in UV or water based, and is capable of blind embossing and tactile effects.
Moog will arrange demonstrations at its technology centre in Miehlen, Germany, for interested visitors.
Bobst is offering demonstrations of its Fischer & Krecke10-colour 20SIX flex press at its Bielefeld, Germany site. The press features the smart COL colour matching system.
“Covering the full range of flexo packaging is a real challenge,” Pavone said at a Bobst open house in March. “This machine will be the best printing machine in the (compact) market.”
A new hot foil stamping press, the Expertfoil 142, is billed as the only dedicated foil stamping press in size VI format.
Near Drupa exhibition halls at the print finishing company Köch & Glasder, Bobst will offer Drupa visitors an opportunity to view its flagship hot foil stamper, the Masterfoil 106 PR, perform in a true production environment.
“We want to merge technologies, bring people together and move ahead,” and will market products from its three business units under one brand, said Bobst Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pascal Bobst.