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FLEXO Magazine : September 2012
facilitate fast change-overs, and advances in print station design and drying/curing allow the front end of a press to run at incredible speeds. But those very same innovations have also revealed inefficiencies in other operations, which now stand as bottlenecks. A good example of this is die-cutting. Die-cutting is a nec- essary step in the production of many common products, in- cluding labels, specialty mailers, and promotional pieces. But die-cutting often holds back faster press operations because: 1. Die-cutting stations require cumbersome change-overs. Changing a die typically requires removing the trac- tors and bridge, and then reaching in to remove the existing die. The heavy dies require a crane or hoist apparatus for lowering them into the station, and adjust- ments require a lot of reaching and bending.Then the bridge and tractors must be replaced, and the tractors readjusted. In some operations, these steps can take 10-to-15 minutes. 2. Die-cutting often sacrifices speed to maintain quality. Though a die-cutter can theoretically run quickly, higher speeds create inconsistent die cuts in most stations. Operators often have to choke back press speeds in or- der to maintain control and quality. There is also “down time” associated with checking quality and attending to potential problems. 3. Die-cutting introduces another source of error. Dies can create liner strikes, which can ruin a roll of product. Product can also be ruined when the matrix is stripped from label products. The matrix can break, or labels could be inadvertently wound-up with the matrix. All of these lead to downtime to restart the press and a loss of production (not to mention waste). And since most die-cutting stations lack repeatable settings and pres- sures, setting the station up again creates just one more time-consuming step. Die-cutting, then, is a new bottleneck. And while manag- ers have traditionally focused on the printing operation to increase throughput, areas such as die-cutting are increas- ingly being seen as areas of opportunity. By decreasing set-up time, ensuring high quality, and reducing the potential for errors, minutes can be saved on a job. Minutes saved with each job accumulate throughout the day, turning into more hours—hours that can be used to win more contracts and produce more saleable product. QUICK CHANGE DIE-CUTTING Architects at Mark Andy made addressing this bottleneck a priority and engineered a new kind of die cutter—the Quick Change Die Cut (QCDC) station. The objective was to keep in mind the above contributions to the bottleneck, then specifi- cally address the issues of cumbersome change-overs, the speed/quality trade-off, and errors. One goal: make the sta- tion as user-friendly as possible. By creating a station where dies are side-mounted into the machine using a portable cart, developers removed the topmost components (the bridge and tractors), putting them to the side and out of the way. These components no longer need to be removed during set-up. In addition, dies do not need to be lowered into the station using a crane or hoist. Indeed, one can roll the die cart into the station using just the www.flexography.org september 2012 FLEXO 65 LOHMANN MEANS SUPERIOR TECHNICAL SERVICE. We'll answer your technical questions, even if you aren't a customer. Yet. CONTACT OUR TECHNICAL TEAM TODAY 859-334-4900 firstname.lastname@example.org