Innovation and investment characterize Italy's industry

Italy is home to some of the world’s foremost manufacturers of converting machinery, especially printing, coating and laminating, and slitting and rewinding equipment. Many of these companies have recently introduced new models, while others are expanding their production facilities to keep pace with market demands.

Ghezzi & Annoni as opened a new plant at Garbagnate, near Milan. This 23,200m2 facility will help G&A meet increasing customer demand for its equipment – slitter rewinders for pressure sensitive materials and specialized tapes, as well as packaging machinery and the Otek range of hotmelt coating and laminating machines. The company has also expanded the engineering and production department of its Coating Division at Vimercate, resulting in the introduction of three new hotmelt coaters – the Otek HS, Otek 1 and Otek-600. Each of these has been developed following consultation with customers.

The new machines are said to provide an efficient and accessible web path, reducing the risk of web breaks and minimizing waste. The coaters are also designed to be easy to use and maintain, with safe access to all parts of the machine. Easy loading and unloading of parent rolls is promised for high speed production with minimum labour involvement.

The Otek HS is designed for high speed production and can be equipped with options such as UV curing. Otek 1 offers processing speeds of 350m/min and is said to be a highly versatile coater, while the Otek-600 is a 600mm web width machine with an operating speed of 250m/min. G&A has already obtained orders for six new hotmelt lines to be delivered during 2004/5.

Flexo press manufacturer Ofem reports “many satisfactory results” from drupa 2004, where the “considerable technical innovations” in its Arena FDS-GL 808 press proved a great success, according to the Verona based company. The Arena is equipped with FDS ‘flexo door system’ print units which enable replacement of the printing sleeves, plate supporting and anilox, directly on the machine quickly, safely and easily. Access for sleeve change is enhanced by the door system integrated in the mandrel supports, says the company.

In addition, GL gearless technology enables the print mandrels to be driven directly by servomotors, eliminating the use of transmission gears, and allowing printing of any repeat within the specified range. Print repeats are selected through an electronic system which operates directly on the servomotors of each printing roller. All production data is stored and accessible for repeat runs through a touchscreen interface. The centralized supervisory system also permits remote servicing from Ofem by modem.

Also demonstrated during drupa was the Midiflash system, developed in collaboration with Viptronic, which is claimed to guarantee the highest levels of print quality.

A recent introduction by Milan based Camis is the Iriflex 1513 twin-camera microdot mid web flexo plate mounting and proofing machine. Suitable for use with both gearless sleeves and traditional geared cylinders, it features the patented Taper Slide motorized tape application system, a motorized plate laying table, plate pressure roller and convenient sleeve change system.

The company emphasizes that by removing the manual element associated with the plate mounting process, the adhesive tape is always applied accurately and consistently to the same standard, eliminating the risk of fugitive air bubbles, creasing and stretching.

Another innovation is the two-camera Irisleeve, an “operator intuitive” gearless sleeve change machine, originally designed for one of Europe’s leading in-line stack presses for cartonboard and pharmaceutical packaging. It is said to be especially suited to use with narrow web CI, tissue, and label printing presses.

The machine is available in several versions, including the Irisleeve 600 for sleeves of up to 600mm wide, and the Irisleeve 900 for repeats of up to 900mm. Camis says it is both simple to use and versatile.

A recent FEBA development is the model 4L/400 automatic electronic lathe slitter, suitable for slitting most kinds of industrial, technical and adhesive tapes. Designed to reduce log change-over times dramatically, it has a revolving turret fitted with four shafts. Two of these perform the cutting operation while the other two are being loaded/unloaded, optimizing workflow through a non stop slitting cycle.

FEBA roll slitting systems are capable of handling rolls of up to 2,100mm width with outside diameters of 1,000mm. Models are available offering single or double-blade penetration, and with the facility to accommodate up to four rolls at a time. Also offered are three-headed sawing machines for protection films. All are equipped with PLC touchscreen control and options include sonar facilities that measure the OD of the log, and a laser that reads the OD of the blade. The operator only has to load the roll and the machine does the rest, automatically.

The Recotrim is Macchi’s latest ‘user friendly’ system for recovery of edge trim on blown film lines. The trim is driven to a hopper in which it is grasped by a co-rotating twin screw. Here the material is melted and plasticized in the screw and forced through a extrusion die specifically designed on the same principle of the film dies and equipped with multiple holes for ‘strand’ extrusion. A cutting system converts the strands into pellet sized granules. These are air cooled using a vortex system and transferred into a spiral device for further cooling.

Launched at drupa 2004, Flexotecnica’s NG sleeved gearless flexo press is available in 1,000-1,600mm printing widths (optional up to 2,000mm) in the eight and 10 colour version, and with a printing repeat range of 330-850mm. Maximum production speed is 500m/min

The 8NG features consolidated direct drive technology and the FNC-3000 computerized print monitoring and management system. This is Windows NT based with a user friendly touchscreen and icon interface to provide quicker auto registration with storage and control of all print parameters. Cost effective performance is assured, claims Flexotecnica, by the Speedy Clean automatic wash-up system, which cleans all print units in five minutes with minimal solvent consumption.

The modular concept of the new press allows configuration either with shaft or shaftless winders for flying splice of reels up to 1,300mm diameter – and with flexo and gravure in-line stations, as well as rotary and platen die cutters for folding carton lines. Options include a pneumatically controlled printing and anilox sleeve ejector, and the SRS ‘smart ride’ system, which allows “safe and easy makeready” on idle print units while the others are running.

Bieffebi’s Unica 342 machine uses register marks or microdots for precise mounting of flexo printing plates onto cylinders or sleeves. Repeat range is 75-600mm, and print widths 600-800mm. The cylinder journals rest on needle bearing supports mounted on a fixed bar. The camera mounting system consists of two black and white cameras with x40 magnification and two black and white nine inch monitors. The cameras incorporate a small mirror segment and two LED’s featuring an adjustable luminous intensity said to ensure constant operation quality.

Camera and register system are mounted on a support beam, which is vertically movable and manually controlled. This combination guarantees the highest mounting accuracy, according to Bieffebi. Options include a gauged rule (with digital display), and sleeve mounting supports that hold the air mandrel cantilevered so that the operator can slip a sleeve on and off easily, without removing the air mandrel.

Latest Omet offering is an upgrade system for the Flexy flexo press which allows printing on both sides of a substrate in a number of colours. The company says the new ‘front and back’ unit prints in perfect register alignment on both sides of the web, and the material to be printed (paper, labels, or cartonboard) will have a maximum length equal to half the useful span of the rotary press. Likely applications include paper products, promotional labels, cartons, and medium thickness tubular film items.

In addition to halving the printing time required and improving the quality of the finished product, this innovation allows production of jobs that would require up to 16 print units on other presses, notes Omet.

In response to the need for high quality and quick turnaround on jobs, Verona based Uteco has developed several new machines, such as the Onyx 876/GL gearless flexo press, the Q-Press short run gravure machine, and the Mistral coater laminator.

With the Onyx the main drive motor is installed directly into the CI drum journal – this patented technology is said to guarantee zero ‘back-lash’ and perfect speed synchronization between the drum and the printing sleeves. The simple on-board sleeve change system for both printing plate cylinders and ceramic anilox rolls, is said to allow for easy and very fast job changes. The main operator control desk contains the supervisory computer controls and some of the main operating functions – with additional panels for control of ink viscosity or for camera and defect detection systems.

Available in web widths of 1,050, 1,250, 1,450, and 1,650mm, with speeds of 300-400m/min, the Onyx Gearless incorporates a new style doctor blade, allowing both blade and end seal change without use of tools. The press can be equipped with a fully automatic wash-up system – typically all eight colours can be cleaned in around six minutes. Another feature to optimize performance is a hand-held controller that allows the operator to perform main operations and any adjustment from a remote position, while the press is running. The Onyx can be supplied with in-ine lamination and downstream printing and/or coating units.

Unveiled at Drupa (see June issue), the Q-Press rotogravure press is designed for short run printing of paper, film and laminates for flexible packaging. Another recent introduction is the Mistral coating/laminating machine. Modular in design, it is capable of solvent based coating, water based coating, solventless, dry coating, wet bond, primer/lacquering on register coating, hotmelt, heatseal, and coldseal on register.

Gidue continues to develop its original Combat flexo press by adding different technologies, such as the Flower concept printhead, which opens to provide easy access to all components.

The high performance E-Combat shaftless press was launched at Labelexpo Europe with the IML-EDL delivery system for in-mould labels. It features servo driven controls for all press functions and is available in web widths of 280, 370, 430, and 530mm. With electronic drives, the E-Combat can print and convert substrates ranging from 15 micron film to 350g/m2 cartonboard without changing the mechanical configuration of the press. Its tension control system automatically adjusts press controls to the full range of substrates processed, eliminating operating errors and waste.

The EDL endless delivery line for in-mould labels, enables narrow web press capabilities for IML applications. Gidue boasts it permits seamless, one-pass printing and converting of in-mould labels.

With the development of the Ready concept of moveable process heads in combination with the Stork screen unit, Gidue now offer its Ready-RSI technology for integrated flexo and screen printing applications. The concept extends to hot foil stamping where similarly the head is located on a wheeled, free-standing module which is easily positioned by the operator above any chosen print unit. Both modules can be retrofitted.

Other developments include the Unipro mid web press for flexible packaging and folding cartons, an intermittent feeder for hologram deposition and a new print head design to permit greater flexibility on cylinder changes.

Converflex Europe 2005, the Italian exhibition for paper, tissue, paper converting, package printing machines and materials, will run from October 11-15, 2005, in Milan. Details from show organizer Centrexpo: Tel: +39 02 31 91 091


Tel: +39 0516 069 011
Tel: +39 02 9981670
Tel: +39 0331 306482
Tel: +39 0371 443 360
Ghezzi & Annoni:
Tel: +39 02 9944161
Tel: +39 02 9668181
Tel: +39 0331827717
Tel: +39 0458781240
Tel: +39 0341 367513
Tel: +39 045 6174555

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