Prima first for flexibles
Windmöller & Hölscher’s new Primaflex CM flexo sleeve press is said to be “ideal for newcomers to flexible package printing, and all who want to modernize their equipment, have an alternate machine to cope with peak load situations – or where short to medium run lengths are to be handled”.
This medium performance CI machine features direct drive colour decks and a compact design, and is claimed to offer maximum ease of operation. This is provided by the new Procontrol TS touchscreen operator desk, which controls all production steps and permits easy entry of production data or other machine commands. Unobstructed access to the manually operated plate cylinder and anilox roll bearings on the operator’s side is said to ensure fast sleeve change-over for the next job, resulting in short makeready times and “a noticeably increased effective up-time of the machine”.
Top speed is 300m/min, with a maximum printing width of 1,270mm and infinitely variable print repeat lengths from 300-800mm. Many substrates can be printed, including paper, plastics films and laminates, while the high output two-zone drying system is said to ensure dependable drying for both solvent and water based inks.
Options include web treaters and camera or moving mirror web inspection units, in-line coating and laminating stations, as well as the Turboclean automatic ink supply and wash-up system.
Gearless growth in Turkey
Turkish converter Baran Embalaj has taken delivery of a new Sigma gearless flexo press from Italian manufacturer Schiavi. This fourth Schiavi gearless flexo press installed in Turkey, is an eight colour CI machine featuring Indramat drives and motors, and a plate cylinder and anilox roller sleeve system. It is equipped with an automatic washing system and integrated drop ball viscometer for on-press cleaning of doctor blades and anilox roller, to reduce change-over time.
With a 1,250 mm web width, the press has been configured for printing flexible film and paper for food and detergent packaging. Baran Ambalaj produces 200M paper bags and 50Mm2 of films annually at its 12,500m2 factory in Imriz.
Seeing a Vision
Recently, delegates from nearly 100 European and Asian companies travelled to Lausanne, Switzerland, to see demonstrations of Bobst’s new Flexo 160-Vision two colour press for corrugated board.
Claimed to be available at an “unmatched price”, the Flexo 160-Vision is also said to be capable of printing both simple and sophisticated jobs. It was shown in-line with the SPO 160-Vision Autoplaten and the gBreak separator, running at 4,500 sheets/hour. The line handles sheets of up to 1,600 x 1,100mm and each unit is independently driven to allow for highly precise register and print length correction.
While the demonstration line included two print units, it is expandable to three, four or five.
Budget buys Beta
Leading Australian self adhesive label printer Budget Labels recently took delivery of a new Edale Beta press equipped with six colours, UV drying and options compatible with its existing Edale E250S machine.
Jim Martin, managing director of the Melbourne based company, reports: “The Beta combines excellent print quality with ease of operation; its modern design and attractive price tag met with our criteria exactly. After extensive research we found it to be the only press on the market able to produce the results we now require, the fact that it was able to work alongside our existing Edale press was great news too.”
JDF controls through MIS
Reproflex3, the UK digital printing and specialist flexo pre-press company, has installed a Shuttleworth MIS package to maximize the advantages of moving towards JDF workflows. This is in preparation for future off-site production facilities where everything will be centrally controlled through the MIS.
The Shuttleworth system includes modules for estimating, sales and marketing, costing, stock control, invoicing and purchase order processing, and a link to Sage accounting.
JDF workflows are fast becoming the industry standard means of sharing data amongst the systems and resources within a company. The MIS, as the starting point of most production routes, will control all the data required by Reproflex3’s machines.
EFTA ‘s three-day MasterClass course brings together students who are experts in their own fields to take a concept from design to print. Supplier members of the association give their time to provide up-to-the-minute training under actual production conditions.
EFTA’s residential training programme for 2004 features Flexo Awareness Level 2: Intermediate and Level 3: Advanced courses. Level 2 covers the basics of flexo and looks at inks, colour, repro, aniloxes, plates and mounting tapes. This course is suited to those with up to five years’ experience of flexo printing and those associated with the process but not necessarily directly involved in printing.
The Advanced course builds on the elements studied in the Intermediate course with greater emphasis placed on fingerprinting and interpreting the results of the Fingerprint Test, colour control and measurement and fault finding. It is suited to highly experienced printers, those associated with reprographics, or with a technical role which requires an in depth understanding of the process.
Both courses will run at the National Print Skills Centre in Leicester, UK. Dates are: Level 2 – May 25-28, June 22-25, September 14-17, November 16-19; Level 3 – March 9-12, October 12-15. Costs (inclusive of hotel accommodation and meals) are: Level 2 – EFTA members £750+VAT, non members £975+VAT; Level 3 – EFTA members £900+VAT, non members £1,500+VAT.
Widest CTP choice suits Lennox
Lennox McKinlay, supplier of press-ready repro to UK packaging printers, has installed a Creo ThermoFlex Wide digital flexo computer to plate system which images plates up to 1,321 x 2,032mm and has an output speed of 30min for that size.
“The ThermoFlex Wide is the largest and most productive device of its type in the marketplace,” says managing director Kenny Lennox. “In addition to delivering crisper reproduction on press due to the elimination of dust and an improved plate shoulder profile, it really comes into its own on highlight rendering, which has always been the bane of flexo plate production.”
He continues: “Brand owners may specify that they want only digital plates used, so it is important that we have that capability. Additionally, we can receive electronic files from those customers in the print sector that have in-house studios, skip the film output stage and go direct to plate. This saves these customers time and money in terms of having to output negatives themselves and couriering them to us.”
Screens hit the Highline
The newest addition to the Esko-Graphics FlexRip specialized screening family is said to combine the advantages of stochastic screening and standard AM screening with rosettes to enable printers to reproduce the finest image details easily.
Unlike FM (stochastic) screening, Highline Screens are AM screens said to require no learning curve for the press operator, but provide an instant quality enhancement. They have been released as optional screens on Esko-Graphics’ FlexRip, and can be used in combination with the company’s PlateDriver, ImageMaker and MegaSetter. The technology can also be used on a wide variety of third party platesetters and imagesetters.
With HighLine, says Esko-Graphics, it is possible to produce very high screen rulings at lower output resolutions than traditionally required. For example, a 423 lpi screen can be created at 2,400dpi resolution. By using IntelliCurve, FlexRip’s intelligent digital dot gain engine, even the smallest HighLine dot percentages will hold stably on plates and presses, while avoiding side effects typically associated with stochastic screening – such as higher dot gain or possible retraining of press operators.
To avoid any form of object moiré, the new screens are offered with a more flexible, extended set of angle combinations – 30 and 60 degree angle sets alongside the standard set of offset angles.
FlexRip also allows HighLine Screens to be combined on the same page with other screening technologies. Esko-Graphics’ IntelliCurve engine automatically resolves dot gain for all screens on the plate.
Sleeve cost savings at your service
Polywest has extended its ‘Sleeve Service On Tour’ programme to the UK. Polywest technicians will visit customers’ sites to carry out an extensive sleeve audit that includes checking the tolerances, surface finish, and notches. At the end of the audit recommendations are made about handling and house keeping, to enable customers to obtain extended sleeve life.
Evolution at Prairie State
US converter Prairie State Group has commissioned the new Evolution in-line flexo converting press from PCMC in its 40,000ft2 facility at Franklin Park, Illinois. According to PCMC, the Evolution is “truly gearless”, with AC digital servos to control the print cylinders precisely through a user friendly operator interface.
“We have seen tremendous growth in the narrow web printing markets and we wanted to expand our flexible packaging division,” explains Graham Redding, Prairie State executive vp. “We believe this press will help us continue our growth as a full service flexible packaging printer.”
The Evolution is a multiple substrate press available in 18, 22, 26, and 30in print widths and suitable for flexible packaging, folding carton, tag, and label applications. It uses PCMC’s Deck x 2 print head, with a single impression cylinder operating between two colour decks. This is claimed to allow for “an industry shortest web path” plus the ability to add more print modules and converting options.
Automatic rack out/rack in features are said to enable change-over to be accomplished in under 30min for eight colours, and “achieving excellent registration is made simple”.
“We have had a great start-up with the machine,” Graham Redding concludes. “It’s fast and does a great job. The eXtreme drying system and variable repeat gearless deck design allows us to go after the gravure market as well.”
Any cylinder fits the Flower
A new printing head provides interchangeable print cylinder flexibility for Gidue’s Combat and Unipro series of presses. The UNIFlower head allows printers to interchange cylinders from other press makes and use them without modification – “dramatically reducing tooling costs and inventory”, the company promises.
No adjustments are necessary when changing the anilox roller or the diameter of the print cylinder, as the Pitagora locking mechanism grips it from beneath. Job changes are simply a matter of dropping in any diameter print cylinder ready for immediate running at maximum speed.
Gidue has also developed three test printing plates in co-operation with the University of Wales, Swansea, Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating. The test plates are said to set flexo print standards that provide measurable data of print quality and performance from the time of press purchase and throughout its working life. Testing can be completed in under four hours.
Managing director Federico d’Annunzio states: “We have long been aware of the need for standards in the flexo industry and have been working towards our ‘Auto-Certification Test”‘(ACT) programme for the past two years. We approached the Swansea Welsh Centre to jointly develop three carefully designed tests that would record the ‘health’ of a press during its working life, with the objective of scheduling both effective and timely maintenance procedures and optimizing press performance. Testing can be carried out on any press at any location and the results forwarded to Swansea for measurement and certification.”
Test Plate1 is said to measure all aspects of the printing quality of the flexo print head year in and year out. Test Plate 2 measures the print stability of the head. Test Plate 3 is used to identify and accurately measure gear marking.
The university supports the ACT programme by providing a third party, non aligned measurement and certification facility that will monitor and up-date the certification process for the benefit of standards in the flexo industry. Any repro house can make the plates to the specifications provided by the university.
Gearless gem gives quick changes
In response to the need for high quality and quick turnaround on jobs, Uteco has introduced the Amethyst 8C-CI press. A simple on-board sleeve change system for both plate cylinders and ceramic anilox rolls allows for easy and fast job changes. A hand-held controller that allows the operator to perform any adjustment from a remote position while the press is running complements the main control desk.
The Amethyst is based on Uteco’s Emerald CI range, with many of its patented features and gearless ‘know-how’, such as the direct drive and print deck positioning systems. A new style doctor blade system allows both blade and end seal change without the use of tools, and free of operator adjustment. The chamber does not mount onto the traditional support cross bar, but onto an adjustable support said to ensure perfect linearity during inking.
The press can be equipped with a fully automatic wash-up system capable of cleaning all eight colours in around six minutes. Available in web widths of 1,050, 1,250, 1,450, and 1,650mm, and speeds of up to 300m/min, the press can accommodate reel diameters of 800, 1,000, and 2,000mm.
It’s Mark Andy three for LMT
Self adhesive tape and label manufacturer LMT has installed another Mark Andy 2200 press at its production plant in Orpington, UK, “to meet the increasing demand for the quality offered by UV flexo”, reports joint managing director, Julian Lee.
The latest machine, a 10in six colour model, is the company’s third from the US manufacturer since 1995. According to Julian Lee: “We needed to diversify our business and the Mark Andy presses provide us with the opportunity to consolidate our existing customer base and enter new markets.”
LMT prints around 100,000 rolls of tape each month in its 35,000ft2 unit.
Dantex Graphics has opened a new European sales office in The Netherlands, to cater for current customers across Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. UK based Dantex has wholly owned subsidiaries in France and Germany, as well as a further sales office in Austria. The company’s products include Toreflex, the new water wash flexo plates, Pamarco anilox rolls and the Aqua-Flex range of plate processors.
Scapa’s new Exafit Y944 550micron hard adhesive tape is designed specifically for solid colour printing on filmic and paper substrates. The double-sided PE foam tape is said to enhance print quality by compensating for the irregularities between the impression cylinder, the printing plates and the print cylinder or sleeve. It promises quality print results, even at high speeds.
A new way of improving print quality for ink manufacturers has been developed by Octel Performance Chemicals. Most types of industrial inks, especially water based, are susceptible to foaming at various stages, forming bubbles which create printing defects. Octafoam foam reduction technology is claimed to be more effective at much lower concentration than conventional materials. It is said virtually to eliminate foaming and give a consistently smoother ink dispersion and surface quality.
Designed for installation on narrow web presses, Simco’s new type DD web cleaner is more compact than the earlier model and now has its own integrated power supply.
Windmöller & Hölscher has fitted an AVT PrintVision/Jupiter auto- matic web inspection system to the direct driven Astraflex CI flexo press at its in-house technology centre. Ulrich Harte comments: “We have had demand from the market to retrofit AVT systems to customers’ presses and to supply them on new presses.”
RK Print Coat has supplied a FlexiProof 100 sample preparation system to the Finland State Research Centre for research into flexo. This is the second FlexiProof supplied for education and research. The first is in use at Zhongshan University in China. The bench-top FlexiProof 100, a scaled down version of a full sized flexo press, can be used for r&d, setting test procedures and computer colour matching.
Jefferson Smurfit Group recently chose Pamarco Global Graphics as the sole supplier of anilox rolls to its plants in the UK and Ireland. Pamarco will provide a total roll management system for the group, and create a database of all its rolls, holding all the roll specifications, condition, and even a digital picture of the roll surface. This information will then be available on-line for each plant.
Plastotype’s Flex-E 760 plate processor for narrow web label printers and converters is said to offer excellent plate quality, with an isolated dot of just 0.5 per cent and minimal plate swelling. The system’s exposure, wash-out, drying and finishing components are integrated in a single, compact and self contained unit.
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