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FLEXO Magazine : August 2011
62 FLEXO august 2011 www.flexography.org In today ’s competitive marketplace, narrow web printers are looking to go wider and wide web printers are looking to go narrower. Everyone is struggling to gain new business. This convergence in the middle has created the increased interest in mid web solutions. TECHNICAL ADVANCEMENTS Mid web presses are manufactured in central impression, stack and in-line press configurations. Each brings different advantages to the table and merits consideration based on your overall production requirements. In general, stack press designs are not as popular anymore with few manufactur- ers even offering it. CI has replaced stack presses, due to a shorter web path and better registration capabilities on flex- ible substrates. Modern in-line mid web press designs utilize gearless-shaftless servo architecture with modular printing stations to deliver exceptional value-added capabilities. Digital motion control systems (servos) have greatly im- proved the performance of all printing presses. CI presses now offer faster makereadies, lower waste, improved registra- tion stability over more colors than in the past. In-line printing presses, as well, offer very fast makereadies with waste and registration levels that rival CI, yet offer ground-floor ease of use. Servo mid web press technology and process automa- tion has advanced mid web press print consistency and qual- ity to even rival sheetfed’s print quality. Modern mid web presses offer pre-registration, automatic print register (both MD & LD), automatic tension & impression adjustment, effectively delivering more science to the mid web process. Further, quick-change print sleeve technology, has allowed mid web presses to compete in the short-run market by greatly minimizing graphic and/or job changeover times. LEANER & GREENER Increased interest in Lean manufacturing has been an in- fluencing factor in mid web press design. As packaging man- ufacturers look to become leaner and meaner, to improve their production process, they eventually turn to upgrading their older presses to further improve their efficiencies. Modern mid web presses utilize much less waste in set-up with fewer personnel, which matches the need for a leaner process. This leaner process also improves the packaging manufacturers’ sustainability footprint, since doing more with less waste equates to improved sustainability. Although there are many facets to the sustainability discus- sion, it is hard to argue that using less substrate in the printing process is one key to sustainability, as well as profitability. MID WEB ADVANTAGES The mid web press has made significant inroads in the label and film markets, which are traditionally web flexo markets. The folding carton market has been slower to accept mid web and or flexo technologies. That is beginning to change. Folding carton printing/converting is a good fit with the mid web flexo press. Mid web presses run at speeds up to approximately 1,200 fpm. they also offer the web width (26-in., 33 -in.) and repeat range (from 12-in. to 32-in.) to fit the size requirements of the folding carton market.