The industrial designers responsible for the development of Komori currency presses are meticulous in their approach to bringing to the market products which may have a life cycle spanning several decades. A unique aesthetic appearance that will stand the test of time should be achieved so that the Komori currency press becomes recognized as a hallmark in the industry.
In addition to the design of currency presses, this basic approach is also considered to be fundamental for both the commercial sheet and web fed offset presses. The entire process should be focused on developing a product which expresses important qualities in their broadest sense, namely good functionality, safety, ease of operation, reliability and a confidence in Komori as a professional manufacturer.
Another crucial design consideration is how the press will be perceived once in operation at the customer’s printing plant. Importance is placed on finding the preferred location for the main operator controls to create a harmonious union between the operator and the machine as well as ensuring that all the major modules such as printing units, infeed and delivery are all instantly recognizable.
Currency presses of course have a special place in our company’s product portfolio due to the special nature of the security printing industry. They embody several important technologies specific to the security world and constitute an important production asset which reflects a high degree of mutual trust between Komori and our partners in this very special industry.
Our production line-up is comprised of four main specialized machines for the creation of currency and other security documents through different printing techniques, i.e. Offset, Intaglio, Numbering and Varnishing. Although they are complimentary to each other in the production of security products, each machine should have its own personal design that accurately expresses its role within the whole process while at the same time sharing a consistent and clear common identity. Above all, the presses should be unmistakably identifiable as Komori machines.
In 1954 when the late Ichiro Komori (3rd president of Komori Corporation) first assigned his team the job of designing a security press, a mouse grey colour was used. At the time the use of this colour was common for nearly all industrial machines including Komori presses. The then-president was keenly interested in improving machine design and one of the team suggested using white as a means of making the production area lighter and encouraging operators to keep their machines well maintained and clean. Today, three contrasting basic colours are used on the main body of the currency presses, - white, grey and black.
Commercial presses are designed to be friendly and approachable as the general assumption is that in most cases they will be operated in a relatively open and care free environment being seen by both clients and other visitors. Currency presses however are typically more focused on institutional organizations such as central banks or authorized security printers and are not usually seen by those other than personnel involved directly with the production process or by a close knit group of suppliers. The design of the presses reflects therefore a more severe and stern approach. These design features are sometimes quite subtle such as simply using rounded edges on the main body of the commercial presses to invite a feeling of familiarity, in contrast to much sharper edges on the currency presses suggesting a more serious production process.
The job of the design team begins once the specifications for the cylinders and the roller train configurations are finalized with no further changes to be made. The designers then coordinate their efforts with the Tsukuba factory to execute an initial design starting with sketches, followed by a process which can take up to three years to complete, terminating when the machine’s colour scheme is decided upon. Finally the chief designer writes a design check report, a document which has a special importance in the Komori world of Kaizen. It details all the achievements made in the design and specifies any objectives not yet attained. This report then serves as a guideline for future product evolution and development and is the essence of building up a strong product identity.
Of course the design of any machine is not carried out in a totally closed environment and in fact the Tsukuba design engineers are constantly offering critical input. Issues can sometimes arise when the practicalities of combining a good workable design with esthetical considerations are in conflict. In these cases the designers’ priority and challenge will always be to find suitable alternatives in which the integrity of both these important aspects is preserved. The design of the operating interface supporting the interactive flow of information between man and machine is an area where Komori’s incredible attention to detail, something embedded in the DNA of Japanese design engineers, comes to the fore. The input and output of information is critically important and requires an ergonomic design of the main machine interface. The design and kerning of characters previously used for each language has been replaced by intuitive pictograms which are now often used on the controls. The pitch of switches and buttons is painstakingly calculated to optimize operability. This attention to detail and the emphasis given to meeting user needs reflects the pure essence and tradition of Japanese design culture and is something which is easily recognizable in all aspects of Komori currency presses.