Edited by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Decorating
As the successor to the K1 series, the new K20 series from KBA-Kammann USA, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is suitable for decorators of plastic promotional items with their short print-runs and frequently changing article shapes and artwork. Introduced at the K 2016 Show in Düsseldorf, Germany, the K20 series decorating machines incorporate many of the technical concepts offered with the universal K15. As a universal machine, the K20 series can print on all shapes – oval, square, round, conical and tapered, to name a few.
Flexible design allows the K20 series to be configured with screen, inkjet or hybrid processes.
“A key element of our engineering philosophy,” noted Paul Bolduc, president of KBA-Kammann USA, “is that inkjet technology has to fit within the K20/K15 architecture and can freely be combined with screen printing. The inkjet modules must not slow down or restrict use of the printer. Each process has its own strengths, and, depending on its market, decorators can choose either process or can combine them in a hybrid machine.”
A recent Smithers Pira study predicts that digital packaging and label printing will grow at 13.6 percent CAGR to 2020. With the increasing demand for higher image quality and more personalization, direct-to-shape inkjet printing will grow in importance.
“Inkjet printing provides customization, just-in-time delivery, sampling and minimal waste as the first product is good,” Bolduc continued. “The technology will open new markets for decorators. At the same time, the biggest opportunity will come from hybrid systems, combining screen printing and digital printing. A hybrid system will generate the highest value added as it takes advantage of each of the printing process’ strengths.”
With a platform architecture open to a variety of decorating equipment, the new K20 series facilitates the integration of equipment that used to be operated separately, such as pretreatment, anti-static, flaming, register system or vision inspection. The programmed infeed and outfeed components are fast, flexible and capable of handling standing and lying articles. These features are unique to KBA-Kammann.
The K20 series comes in two varieties – the K21 with one article carrier and the K22 with an additional robotic article carrier that enhances machine utilization and increases output by up to 80 percent. The machine interface was also improved to provide easier setup. More space is available to accommodate print stations or other equipment. Its robust framework provides stability and dampening characteristics, enhancing print quality and productivity.
Bolduc noted that customers at K Show could see the prototype K22 machine in operation and were excited and positive about the machine’s conceptual and structural evolution.
The K20 series is capable of production speeds of up to 530pph 4-color process and can handle articles 40 to 450mm (1.57 to 17.72″) long with an article diameter of 20 to 165mm (0.79 to 6.5″). Its inkjet print height is up to 210mm (8.27″). As a universal machine, the K20 series can print on almost any shape with a color to color register accuracy of +/- 0.10mm (0.003937″). The machines are capable of printing on various substrates, such as plastic, glass, metal, ceramics and more.