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FLEXO Magazine : September 2012
pressure of one's fingertips. These changes have significantly shortened the die changeover cycle and have increased operator comfort. Access can also be had from the top of the station, as the top guard slides toward the back of the press for easy access. Access to the entire die station during set-up allows one to change flexible dies inside the station itself, and also makes cleaning and maintaining the station easier. And since the station is much lower than other die-cutting stations, the sta- tion as a whole is much more ergonomic. Quick station set-up and access only addresses one of the bottlenecks. If the die-cut quality is not consistent, then the bottleneck remains. Building a die station with unmatched rigidity, addresses this concern. Solid frame designs ensure no deflection under load. Larger diameter anvil and support rolls, with robust journals allow for higher cutting pressures without movement. The result is elimination of deflection, fewer inconsistencies, and less waste. With this enhanced rigidity, the die is ensured to have con- sistent cutting throughout the run. But what about speed? Strip- ping the matrix is often the biggest bottleneck in converting. The new design has addressed this traditional problem. First, the distance between the die cut area and matrix stripping point is extremely short, eliminating the potential for adhesive to fill the cut area on the label. High precision capstan and waste matrix spindles allow for precise adjustments in tension. This provides a benefit over older pneumatic clutches, in that operators can set a specific tension and return to that setting later, without the need for readjusting all over again. The improvements in changeover, consistent cutting, and stripping will have a big impact on the bottom line for a converter. (To get an idea of the financial impact of these improvements, see Table 1.) By completely rethinking the design of a typical die-cutting station, engineers were able to solve a number of problems simultaneously. The result is a die-cutting station with much faster and easier set-up, more consistent quality---and hence speed---and fewer errors such as liner strikes and matrix stripping errors. QCDC BENEFITS We've reviewed a number of the design changes that have gone into the QCDC, explaining the specific issues they are meant to solve. Of course, it can't be said that the QCDC will help every job, or even every shop. Naturally: it represents a specific set of solutions aimed at a precise bottleneck. But it does serve as a great example of how to address such a bottleneck. While these technical details can be interesting, the ques- tion that most operators and managers have in mind is the usual one: "How will this impact my bottom line?" Look again at Table 1. Here you can see the total time saved in set-up by using a QCDC versus a typical die-cutting station, as well as the increase in speed through improve- ments in die cutting and matrix stripping. We then translate this time saved into the additional capacity and subsequent profit that can be realized, holding constant other steps in the printing process. TABLE 1: Change-Over and ROI Comparison, Conventional Vs. Quick Change Die Cut Station Conventional Die Cut Station (min:sec) Quick Change Die Cut Station (min:sec) Relieve Tractor Pressure 00:15 00:00 Remove Tractors, Remove Bridge 00:30 00:00 Remove Die And Handle Outside Press 01:30 00:15 Install Bearing Blocks, Install Die 01:15 00:15 Install Bridge, Install Tractors 00:30 00:00 Set and Adjust Tractor Pressure 00:30 00:05 Register Die to Print (lateral and lineal) 02:00 00:15 Set-up Matrix 01:00 00:30 Total 07:30 01:20 Stripping Speed 350 FPM 500 FPM Increase in Capacity (Set-up reduction only) 10% Annual Profit Increase (Set-up reduction only) $ 94,000 Increase in Capacity (Set-up reduction and increased matrix stripping speed) 19% Annual Profit Increase - Set-up reduction and increased matrix stripping speed $ 179,000 As you can see, saving even just a few minutes can have a significant impact on available capacity. More jobs means an higher annual profit. And these numbers don't even take into account the higher quality of rolls, the decrease in machine stops, or the reduction in overall waste. In all, advances in die-cutting technology can relieve a potential bottleneck and deliver bottom-line benefits to the converter. About the Author: Jeff Feltz is director, new business develop- ment, Mark Andy, Inc. He has been with Mark Andy for more than 12 years and is currently responsible for guiding the company 's business strategies and developments to sustain and grow customer penetration and market share. Jeff identi- fies and evaluates industry and market needs and uncovers trends to ensure the product offerings meet the ever-changing requirements of various industry segments. Feltz started his career at Mark Andy as director of manu- facturing and then moved into a product management role. This has provided significant experience with all facets of machine production, plant operations and LEAN initiatives. Feltz holds an ME from University of Missouri, Rolla, as well as an MBA from Webster University. 66 FLEXO SEPTEMBER 2012 www.flexography.org