Swiss converting machinery manufacturers offer technical expertise of the first order

Switzerland may be one of Europe’s smallest countries, but it is also home to some of the biggest names in converting equipment – such as Bobst and Gallus. This selection of Swiss suppliers includes developments from specialists in corrugated conversion, narrow web presses, plate making, coating, tension control, and slitting and rewinding.

Bobst reports that many of its latest SPO 160-Vision die cutters are now in production, with several corrugated plants using the machine mainly for short run work.

“The new machine allows our planners to put the longer runs through the plant’s existing Bobst die cutters, improving productivity on those machines,” comments a plant manager from a UK customer. “With short run work turning around more quickly thanks to the Vision, we find ourselves with improved figures all round.”


The Vision is said to offer high productivity, quick makeready, flexibility and reliability at “the best price-performance ratio in its class”. Aimed at both sheet plants and integrated facilities, it features the Centerline II system for quick and precise tool location.

With a maximum production speed of 4,500 sheets/hour, the machine is also capable of job change-overs in under eight minutes. It will convert corrugated board up to 7mm thick, at sheet sizes of up to 1,600mm x 1,100mm. Solid board from 1mm thick can also be handled.

Another recent innovation is the Dynaflex – an ‘operator friendly’ successor to the Flexo 160/200 printer. Several functions have been motorized or complemented with options contributing to easy operation. It can be installed in-line with a flat bed die cutter, or off-line, for high quality printing on coated board with thin screens.

  Yet another recent innovation is the Accufeed module with a blank aligning section for corrugated folder gluers. It is claimed to provide a significant reduction in the time required for a job change while ensuring excellent finished box quality by perfectly aligning the blanks before the folding operations are carried out.

The production of high quality boxes in corrugated or delicate micro-flute laminated board is an exacting task for which Bobst offers the Alpina 145. It makes boxes, pouches and envelopes in board (800g/m2), and corrugated (N, F, E, B) for straight line, crashlock, four and six-corner or double wall boxes.

Gallus claims a greater breadth of experience than any other narrow web press manufacturer – ideal to satisfy the diverse demands of a market spanning unsupported film and pressure sensitive substrates up to lightweight cartonboard.

Explains vp sales and marketing Klaus Aarestrup: “While our focus remains with the label printer, our technology enjoys a high level of synergy with the wider aspects of package printing. This gives us and our customers the capability of diversifying into new and profitable market areas.”

At last month’s Emballage show in Paris, the company exhibited its EM flexo range – claimed to give label printers “the ultimate in flexible production capacity”. The modular design offers up to 100 different units to suit specific requirements – and provides the opportunity to adapt to market changes as they happen.

Available in 260, 410, and 510mm web widths, the EM series combines water based and UV flexo with rotary screen printing, cold foil blocking, hot foil stamping, reverse side printing, and finishing techniques such as varnishing, laminating and embossing. The new Alpha 4 automatic register control system is also fitted.


To increase productivity further, the machines are now available with the Gallus Easy Change system. This allows print units to be prepared off-line then exchanged using a second set of ink units. Capable of running substrates from lightweight films and foils to cartonboard, the EM press is claimed to open a variety of new markets for the printer, including the in-mould labels that were being produced at Emballage 2002.

For printers specializing in short to medium run high quality labels, Gallus also demonstrated the TCS 250 offset line. This ‘shaftless’ machine, which uses an independent drive system, is said to be quick to make ready and easy to control. It requires a minimum of floorspace thanks to a design that locates the control cabinets on each unit.

The press incorporates exchangeable print units, web cleaning, and corona treatment, as well as edge trimming.

The machine in Paris featured five offset print units, plus in-line hot foil stamping and rotary varnishing. Converting capability includes in-line flat bed die cutting and creasing, and for further added value the hot foil can be used in combination with other processes. Typically, a spot or matt varnish can be applied before or after the foil, and the unit can also run two different colour foils simultaneously.

Computer to plate systems for packaging production are supplied by Lüscher. The company claims its Xpose! CTP imagesetters combine the best of internal and external plate imaging technology. Located on an internal bed, the thermal plate is imaged by 64 infra red laser diodes housed in a drum which traverses the plate during the exposure cycle.

This is said to reduce the amount of energy required to expose the image considerably. Exposure times are very fast, at around 100mm/min, so plates with a format of 1,370 x 1,700mm are exposed in about 12min with a resolution of 2,400dpi and 70 lines/in screen count.

Packaging manufacturers employing Xpose! systems, such as Kappa Zedek, a leading Dutch converter of corrugated board, comment on the advantages of CTP production. “The move to the new technology was instigated by our customers who maintained that their quality standards could only be achieved using CTP for plate making,” states marketing manager Rens van Pesch. “The Xpose! delivers the printing quality required.”

At Rentsch, in Switzerland, growing demand for plates was a key factor in the decision to convert to CTP. The company produces high added value packaging for cigarettes, and folding cartons for the cosmetics and hair care markets.

“Considering our complex production, and notable quality standards, the choice of a suitable system was critical,” says assistant production director Peter Brotzer. “The requirement for tight registration and no missing dots down to two per cent made it even more difficult. The Xpose! 130 best met our specifications, its maximum format of 1,100 x 900mm being well suited to the B2 format of our offset presses.”

According to Lüscher, XPose! users affirm that, apart from notable improvements in quality and productivity, far fewer plates have to be remade. It also confirms that CTP technology provides sharper plate imaging and much better registration, enabling press makeready times to be shortened considerably.

Coating innovation

Zürich is the home of coating equipment specialist Bachofen + Meier, Bülach, better known as BMB. In business for well over 50 years, the company boasts more than 1,000 components or complete lines installed worldwide. Its reputation is based on continuous innovation in development and design, backed by a modern technology centre and a 1,000m/min pilot coating line for its own development work, as well as clients’ trials.

BMB concentrates on the complete process in a coating line, focusing its main developments in areas such as web handling, winding, drive and tension control, process control, coating, drying/curing, and remoistening.

Its range includes Adhesa lines for the application of adhesive, primer and silicone coatings on paper and film. The coatings can be solvent based, aqueous, 100 per cent solids, UV or EB curable, and hotmelts. Repro coating lines are designed for products in the graphics sector, including NCR copy papers, dielectric papers, inkjet papers and films, thermal papers, photographic papers and films, overhead films, and litho plates.

Another offering is Mastercoat on or off-line coating equipment for paper and board.

Typical coating methods include metering bar, blade, air knife and roller type moistening units. Complex/special coating lines and special wet and dry laminating machines can be supplied for solvent based or aqueous adhesives for production of laminates from paper, film, and foil. Also available are lines for foil lacquering and for application of barrier coatings onto films.

In addition, BMB designs and builds high capacity dryers and drying systems for coatings on film, foil, paper or board. Over 900 of the company’s flotation dryers are operating worldwide. It also supplies individual units, such as turret winders, coating units, air dryers, vacuum rolls, remoistening units, and steam humidification systems.

Latest developments include a vacuum roll capable of speeds up to 3,000m/min. No slip and non marking of the substrate are said to be guaranteed. The company’s high speed curtain coater is claimed to offer an excellent coating surface, flexible and clean application, low energy costs, and no wear parts. “Perfect web handling,” free from vibration, together with a “perfect” cross web profile is promised for the Easydry flotation dryer.


Polytype is celebrating 40 years of coating and laminating machinery production at its site in Fribourg. The recently extended factory includes a technical centre equipped with two advanced pilot coater laminators.

The pilot lines are used for development of new ideas and equipment, customer trials and limited production. With up to 50 different coating methods in exchangeable cassettes, interchangeable between the two lines, the most appropriate coating system can be tested and evaluated at the customer’s desired production speeds. One machine is designed to handle solvent and water based products with thermal drying, the other for 100 per cent solids, UV and electron beam curable coatings and adhesives.

Polytype machines are widely used in the flexible packaging and foil converting industry, for silicone and pressure sensitive adhesive applications, stamping and décor foils, special paper coatings, photography and inkjet, and various special industrial applications. The machines are tailor made from standard modules in web widths from 50-280cm or more, and speeds from 10-1,500m/min.

A wide range of optional winders can be chosen, with shafts or shaftless, and with or without automatic flying splice systems. Thermal dryers may be of the flotation type or with guide rolls, as appropriate for the web materials to be processed.

Coating processes include roll coating from gravure to five-roll systems, slot nozzle, extrusion and a range of special dies for pre-metered coatings, and curtain coating.

Werner Mathis recently introduced two options for its Labcoater LTE-S combination coating table and drying oven. One is the Autoprogrammer, which enables parameters such as dwell time, temperature and fan speed to be pre-set. The memory can accommodate 20 programs, each of 20 steps.

The second new option is the RS 232 interface. With this unit, parameters such as temperature, time, and fan rotations can be changed in on-line operation. Further processing of the operating data is also possible in the computer.

In some applications it is important that treatment begins only when the set sample temperature is reached. For this, Mathis offers an infra red radiation pyrometer for measurement of the material temperature of the sample. Both air and sample temperatures can be displayed, and a dwell time can be set to start after the sample reaches the required temperature.

Coating processes available on the Labcoater include knife over roll, floating knife or rubber blanket knife application. Multiple coatings are also possible, and two-side coating with intermediate drying.

Two innovations in tension measurement and closed loop control have been introduced by FMS. First is the CMGZ612, a twin channel digital closed loop controller that has two independent PID control loops built into one electronic unit. It is said to be ideal for unwind and winding machines, or for use in any applications where multiple tension zones will improve the processing capability.

The controller offers 2ms response time, within 10V/0-10V and 0/4-20mA outputs, and is parameter selectable for control of an unwind brake or drive, a rewind or intermediate drive. It is said to be easily programmed and has built-in filters to ensure stable control signals. In addition, it is available with interfaces via RS232 or optional PROFIBUS DP, CANopen, DeviceNET.

The second FMS innovation is the AMGZ series of loadcells for dead shaft roller tension applications. These are offered in tension forces from 100-2250N, have single bolt mounting for easy installation, and can accept roller standard journal sizes of 1.25 and 1.5in – others on request.

The sensor utilizes foil type strain gauges in a full Wheatstone bridge configuration to ensure an accuracy rating of 0.5 per cent combined repeatability, hysterisis, and linearity. Using FMS amplifiers or controllers with the AMGZ is claimed to ensure accurate control of either a drive or brake, even when measuring at only five per cent of the sensor’s nominal load. In addition, the temperature coefficient of sensitivity of within 0.01/degC is said to ensure freedom from temperature drift issues.

Production boost

Schlumpf, manufacturer of airshafts, chucks and other modular components for paper, film and foil winding, has opened a new factory and offices in Hunenberg/Zug. Further expansion is set for completion in 2003 to meet production demands and to allow for the development of new products, including reel and shaft handling systems.

Schlumpf has invested in state of the art tooling such as a robot that allows for complete assembly of a chuck without any manual lifting; and a CNC milling and boring centre machine that enables complex shaped guideways to be made for SDE chucks in a single operation.

At first glance, products made in Switzerland seem expensive, says Philip Fletcher, of UK agent Arrowhive Equipment. “While Schlumpf airshafts and core chucks are slightly more costly, they are so well engineered that in many cases they outlast seemingly inexpensive competitive components.”

Exact balancing

To cope with the highest web speeds, Schlumpf has equipped its shaft assembly section with a precision fixture that allows exact balancing of winding shafts of up to four metres length.

The company’s latest winding shafts are the DuoGrip and FlexGrip. The former, a lightweight model with ‘external’ Duo-bladders, is said to be easy to maintain. All components are accessible from the outside without removal of shaft journals. The FlexGrip is a flexible new clamping concept to fit any large diameter shaft body of appropriate wall thickness.

Other new products include QuickGrip torque activated mechanical core chucks that expand automatically when the roll rotates or the web is tensioned. Adapter collars are added in seconds to change core sizes.

The latest fully automatic surface winder from Senntech is the KPW3, which can convert a wide range of small rolls without the need to modify or significantly change the machine settings. Each job is saved in the memory. Special features claimed for the system are its ability to start up to maximum speed in five seconds and stop in six seconds using a 50in mill roll – and to change to differ- ent slit widths in less than five minutes. This makes short production runs very profitable to convert, the company promises.

A web width of up to 61.7in allows the machine to run cash register rolls, bus tickets, and ATM rolls up to 11.8in with high production out put. The operator only needs to refill the core bin and change the mill roll. In fact, according to Senntech, one operator can easily monitor two KPW3s.

Faes reports successfully selling its URM mini slitter to thermal transfer ribbon converters to doctor surplus materials. Like the company’s Quadro 400 and 800 slitters, the URM is designed to help converters upgrade production.

“Today there is a need to be able to provide samples of the products our customers are selling very quickly,” says Faes. “The URM is the perfect answer, even more because the process is the same as on our Quadro slitters. Surplus materials, faulty rolls, and unsuitable products can be reclaimed by the URM, saving the converters waste and a lot of money.”