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FLEXO Magazine : August 2010
Technologies & Techniques Your Press Can Do More Features support greater Productivity and More Efficiency means more than just productivity. Efficiency is a philosophy—a philosophy of creating solutions that helps printers/converters, in implementing new technologies and integrated products that deliver competitive advantages. Today ’s modern press technology addresses, on the one hand, the needs of traditional converters, who desire efficiency improvements for short jobs. On the other hand, this technology addresses the needs of label manufacturers who desire productivity improvements and the elimination of photoinitiators through advanced solutions that utilize EB (electron beam) flexo ink technology in high-performance printing applications. EB FlExo TEChnologY In EB curing, a curtain of accelerated electrons is emitted toward the web in an evacuated chamber. When the ener- gized electrons hit ink or coating, the curing process happens instantaneously, without the need for photoinitiators (PI) used in UV inks. The EB process is conducted under an inert nitrogen blanket. The air that we breathe contains 78 percent nitrogen, but that is still not pure enough, as the oxygen in the air inhibits the curing process and results in the generation of ozone. The effectively instantaneous cure gives the printer the ability to post-process or ship immediately as the stock comes off the press, shortening the time to market. This ability to re- spond quickly and not have lag time and inventory problems are additional financial and process management advan- tages of EB curing. As mentioned, EB inks do not have the disadvantage of requiring any photoinitiator. Those needed in UV printing also requires several degrees of post curing. Because energy curable inks do not contain any diluents and are pure 100 percent ink, evaporation plays no part in the curing process, resulting in clean and sharp dots. Meeting the highest quality standards within the highest screens has never been easier. DEvEloPing nEw MarkETs High quality print capabilities, in particular high line screens with tight register, open the door to markets previ- ously considered out of reach and which can compete with gravure printing with costs no higher per square meter than for your current conventional printing system. But this is not enough. The systematic reduction of run lengths is a reality in the majority of the market. Efficiency in flexo must mean reduced costs with machinery best suited to this short form, which requires ingenious solutions that reduce downtime and maintenance time. These solutions must come with a high degree of automation, while also reducing job change times and increasing profit margins on the final product. Efficient press technology can help printers/converters face these challenges. Some features include a new doctor blade chamber support design that reduces change times and increases accessibility. Current CI drum designs simplifies maintenance and changeovers, creating savings for a direct impact on the per-square-foot cost of your product. susTainaBiliTY Consumer product company (CPC) CEOs, as well as gov- ernments and consumers, have joined together to promote the value of greener living. Efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand, particularly when it comes to press technol- ogy. One such example is electron beam inks. EB curable ink consumption is less than half that of solvent based printing, as no solvents or water have to evaporate and no additional solvents have to be added during production, saving substan- tial amounts of additional solvents. Additionally, the enormous energy consumption of hot air dryers, incinerators and VOC abatements do not play a part in the EB curing process Due to current and future environmental regulation, carbon footprint reporting and reduction are expected to become dominant issues in the packaging industry as their cost fac- tors increase. New presses should offer numerous environ- mental benefits, including print quality, reduced waste and cost reduction. Flexo efficiency is here. n ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This story was submitted by Comexi North America. All technologies referenced represent Co- mexi’s FLEXO4Efficiency press. electron-beam dryers cure ink more efficiently than uV or solvent- based ink, and are significantly more eco-friendly. Photo courtesy Comexi north America. 38 FLeXO August 2010 www.flexography.org • Carbon footprint reporting and reduction are ex- pected to become dominant issues in the packaging industry as their cost factors increase. • Current CI drum designs simplifies maintenance and changeovers, creating savings for a direct impact on the per-square-foot cost of product. • Instantaneous cure of EB inks allows for post-pro- cessing or shipping immediately as the stock comes off the press. August2010_mech.indd 38 8/13/10 7:45 AM
Sustainable Summer 2010