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FLEXO Magazine : July 2007
w w w . f l e x o g r a p h y . o r g J U LY 2 0 0 7 F L E X O 1 7 prOduct trEnd report in thickness of the material impact pre-register accuracy. The machine doesn’t have to wait until print marks get through the last station before the system knows it needs to make a correc- tion. Servo drives for the plates allow a new plate sleeve to be in- stalled at an unused station and brought up to speed and proper print pressure in register while an adjacent station automatically throws off and stops printing. This eliminates a couple of press lengths of waste by not having to stop and restart the machine. Deliver More value In-line presses can be extremely flexible. Servo drives make it easy to produce the exact print repeat length the application re- quires. Matching gravure print sizes as well as metric standards is not a problem. In addition to printing flexo on as many stations as needed, rotogravure cassettes can be installed for printing metallic inks that are close to foil stamping quality, but do not slow down the run speed. Gravure also allows in-line coating of cold seal adhesive. Of course, portable rotary screen and foil stamping cas- settes are still very popular platforms used for many print decora- tion options. Learning from the pressure sensitive label producers, the paper- board packaging industry started to realize cycle time reductions with in-line web printing, die-cutting and creasing processes sev- eral years ago. Multiple days were eliminated from the workflow, compared to the sheet-fed printing and offline flatbed die-cutting systems used for generations. Reductions in costs of in-process inventory and the extra waste associated with the makeready of multiple process steps has improved profits dramatically. The flexible packaging industry is now beginning to enjoy these cycle time benefits. The time to produce flexible packaging prod- ucts such as stand-up pouches is reduced by three to five days with an in-line flexo press having a high-speed water-based or electron- beam adhesive lamination system. The offline lamination process and need for multiple-day curing are eliminated. It is possible to ship product the same day that printing begins. Control technology innovation has made incorporation of mul- tiple processes in-line practical and profitable. Computer controls for every station automatically know which process cassette has been installed at any position and supply the correct operating functions. It is no longer necessary for the operator to make these inputs at the touch screen machine interface. The interface com- puter displays messages notifying the operator of problems and fault conditions. The help screen takes the operator to the section of the electronic operating manual files where appropriate proce- dures are stored and available. The impression cylinder, plate mandrel, and the anilox of the in-line press are now arranged in a straight line, which is typical of high speed CI machines. In-line flexo now prints at very high speeds without plate bounce. Combined with wider web widths, in-line competes economically with the CI process, even where some longer run orders are in the mix. In-line flexo isn’t limited to narrow web pressure sensitive label printing anymore. New technology combined with the inherent advantages of the in-line flexo process give label and packaging printers the tools to take advantage of the exciting changes that keep this vibrant industry healthy and growing.? ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Lawrence is product manager for Comco presses and equipment. He has nearly 40 years of experience in the printing/converting industry. He began working with Mark Andy/Comco nine years ago as director of engineering. Lawrence holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Wright State University. Shuttle deck designs have drastically reduced setup and changeover times for in-line converting. State-of-the-art functionality at a master station and each print station on the press provide instant one-
Golden Anniversary Commemorative Journal