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FLEXO Magazine : September 2012
cent did not think so and 58 percent were not sure. Regarding duplicate SKUs across the web, 54 percent said, “ yes this is better,” 1 percent did not think so and 45 percent were not sure. This is an indication of the lack of experience by many narrow web converters running multiple SKUs across. The question was asked, “Did a full servo (gearless) press help broaden market reach with better handling of various substrate thicknesses?” Overwhelmingly, 100 percent, indi- cated, “Yes.” With the discussion centering on downgauging of materials and films, some 59 percent of label converters mentioned that a mid-web flexo central impression press would be practical for the business. Some 41.6 percent said, “T his is not our market.” Sixty-five percent of the sample audience would consider electron beam curing of inks as an option if it met FDA guide- lines for food packaging. Another 35 percent would evaluate it. Similarly, a move into Extended Gamut or G7 printing was seen as desirable. Currently,16 percent of those polled work with EGP, but 25 percent could make the move within the next one-to-two years, 9 percent see it as likely in the next three-to- five years and 50 percent have no plans at this time. MODULARITY & MACHINES A hybrid, in-line flexo press is essentially a flexo CI deck on an in-line configuration. It utilizes automatic deck position- ing, impression setting and pre-register systems before press start up and plate and anilox sleeve changes; so printers gain many of the quick-change advantages offered on CI presses today with reduced material waste. On this hybrid in-line flexo press, there can be various size hot air dryers for water-based inks and coatings, depending on requirements. Gravure units for metallic inks, coatings and laminating operations, can be added, if needed. With an all servo modular press with electronic lineshaft, changes or additions to the press for new business conditions in the future are possible. For example, UV lamps can be positioned around a chill roll for shrink sleeves and some flex- ible packaging materials. In addition, hot air dryers for water- based flexible packaging production could be an option. There is the possibility to add an electron beam unit for new UV/EB inks and coatings for food products. With the develop- ment of UV and EB overprint coatings that provide the per- formance of a laminated structure in some cases, this could open the door to food products being printed with reduced photo initiators that are food packaging friendly. Narrow web folding carton production is another target for converters, but this requires a press with the right tension controls, idle rolls and in-line die cutting capability. What is the answer? The conventional in-line hybrid label press has made great strides for short run die cut labels with multiple label decorating applications at lower costs. Because of the lower tooling costs of the narrow web press, it is hard to find fault with this approach. The answer is not to replace the conventional label press, but instead look at the best approach for these expanding markets. Full view of mid web CI press. 72 FLEXO september 2012 www.flexography.org