For 20 years now, Note Printing Australia (NPA), as a close partner of KBA-NotaSys, has been using one of its security presses to produce not only banknotes, but also the inner pages of passports. To date, they have been printed in a combination of conventional and waterless offset.
With the desire for greater design freedom and the ability to test new ideas on short-turnaround times, the company has switched to an exclusively wet offset process with a half-format sheetfed offset press.
The project was completed on schedule.
A Rapida 76 with four printing units, a drying tower, a perfecting unit and four further printing units went into production in Craigieburn in April. The sheetfed offset press enables NPA to introduce numerous innovative technologies.
Numbering, rainbow printing and many other applications which are today standard in security printing can all be realised on the B2 press, thanks to the incorporation of a whole raft of special and newly developed features. Special accessories for the handling of lightweight substrates and plastic films round off the configuration.
With the Rapida 76, NPA is now able to print photorealistic images. In other words, the illustration quality is comparable to that of real photographs. To achieve this, parts of the image are printed in their full photographic resolution, while others are “softened”.
In addition, the press allows mixed UV operation, which means that certain security features can be incorporated into conventionally printed documents via a UV process. These features remain invisible under normal light. If the image is held under a UV lamp, on the other hand, the security feature is revealed – for example, native fauna might appear in the depicted landscape. Such effects represent significant improvements in the security standards for documents.
At the same time, a broad spectrum of automation functions serves quality monitoring and makeready savings. These functions include a facility to disengage unused inking units, fully automatic FAPC plate changers, CleanTronic Synchro for parallel washing of the blankets, impression cylinders and rollers in production with conventional and UV inks, non-stop pile changing at the feeder and delivery, and colour control on both sides of the sheet.
Neil Taylor, NPA’s capital engineering manager, said: “We’ve only had the press for a short time, but it’s clear the Rapida is providing NPA with a printing capability where there's a lot more control in colour management and visual inspection.”