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FLEXO Magazine : April 2009
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES New presses hitting the market this year will feature cutting-edge levels of automation. All art courtesy Fiscker & Krecke/Bobst Group. A Better Position Sophisticated New Technology Automates Impression, Register, and More By Kurt Flathmann he process of setting impression and register on a fl exo- graphic press has not changed signifi cantly since the days of aniline printing. Basically, operators optically try to discover the surface variations of the mounted plate, or it’s topog- raphy, to determine the optimum print setting, and the proper anilox setting to optimize the ink transfer setting to the plate—all while running the press. Then they try to optically set the correct register, also while running the press. These processes take time and generate a lot of waste. Most of the industry has strived to automate this process by duplicating and enhancing the manual steps with various forms of automation technology. One manufacturer, however, decided to go in a diff erent direction—one that would generate the print settings and register settings prior to ever entering the press. Years ago, drawing on advancements in modern measurement techniques and sensor technology, a group of people set out on the long road to development of a “smart” graphic positioning system. T While simultaneously developing the measurement tech- niques, register sensors, topographic scanning equipment and RFID technology, scientists began an extensive study of how to 20 FLEXO APRIL 2009 generate the optimum print and ink transfer geometry. These studies were conducted in diff erent package printing industries, using diff erent inks, diff erent plates, diff erent thicknesses, diff er- ent durometers, and diff erent stickybacks at facilities all around the world. From these extensive studies came advanced impres- sion-setting algorithms to choose the optimum impression set- tings for millions of variables. These algorithms were beta tested again and again at facilities around the world to determine their accuracy in all possible situations. The graphic positioning system sets a fundamentally new stan- dard when it comes to registration and impression setting. It is diffi cult to even fi nd an appropriate term to describe the technol- ogy. What is commonly understood by “impression setting” does not accurately describe this new breakthrough, because it does not perform the setup in the press. Both a traditional manual adjustment and an automatic optical-based system perform the setup process in the press. The graphic positioning system does the job offl ine at the plate mounting stage with almost no addi- tional time required. A Beta version of the new system was introduced at drupa 2008 and, in January 2009, it was released for production. www. f le xography. org