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MAN Roland Re-enters World of Extra-large-Format Printing

June 2003
By W.P. Jaspert

European Correspondent

OFFENBACH, GERMANY—In these days of economic stagnation it takes a lot of courage to launch a major new product. But that is exactly what MAN Roland, headquartered here, has done with the recent launch of the Roland 900 XXL sheetfed offset press.

While initial production will produce only 12 to 18 presses a year for the world, the people responsible in Germany look forward to selling more presses annually very soon. The only serious rival is KBA-Planeta.

MAN Roland claims by its technology to be the world leader now with the Roland XXL, based on the successful sales of the Roland 900 in formats 7 and 7B, ranging from 43x64˝, 47x64˝ and now to the new size 8 press of 51x73˝.

Second-hand, extra-large format Harris and Miehle sheetfed color presses, refurbished and with modern features added, are still selling and mainly print poster work, replacing screen process printing at higher speeds.

The new MAN machine was demonstrated running at a speed of up to 12,000 sph, with automatic plate loading that shortened makeready times. Up to 5,000 individual jobs can be stored for reprinting. Special, large-capacity, dual-flow ink units were added. Machines from four units plus coater upwards have a longitudinal shaft. The XXL machines are designed to capture a good share of the market dominated these days by half-size and medium-format sheetfed offset presses.

They are designed to appeal to picture books, maps, large displays and packaging, and welcome the possibility of doubling and quadrupling productivity (or go to eight- or 16-up production and even higher, depending on job characteristics).

MAN Roland manufactured the former size 8 press models (Roland 800 series) until 1995. There was then a fear-year break in large press manufacture, but the Ultra-Man and Roland 800 press ranges were sold quite successfully.

Then came the stimulation of ultra-high-speed printing on 40˝ presses and the half-size press boom. It seemed that the large-format press era had come to an end.

Now it is emerging again, with printers having re-discovered the huge output of the few available press models. Automation has lent these machines high productivity and performance.

Through its Print City venture participation, MAN Roland has started on the finishing side, too. In collaboration with folder specialist MBO, a new folder capable of handling the full sheet was introduced. There is as yet no diecutting machine available, but the success of in-line rotary diecutting is being closely watched and technical developments, other than sheet slitting, are anticipated.
 

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