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FLEXO Magazine : August 2013
controls, today a ubiquitous feature on any modern printer, made their first appearance in the middle of the decade. And the “half-moon” flat die cutter was seen for the first time. For OMET, the 1980s were highlighted by its introduction of a machine with a 420-mm web width for continuous forms, with a fan folder final delivery and self-adhesive label rolls. The manufacturer replaced the flat diecutter system with the “half-moon” variety, leading to a sales boom for the company. Introduction of another die system—magnetic dies— punctu- ated the close of the decade. 1990-2000 Innovation, new technologies and a refinement of exist- ing processes carried the advancements seen in the 1980s straight through the 1990s. The first UV flexo machines were brough to market and with them came wider web widths— 520-mm . (20-in.)—and color expandability—to 10 options. Removable ink cassettes birthed the concept of quick job changeovers. A host of new finishing technologies made their debuts. They included cold foil, rotary screenprinting and hot stamping. Independent motors were utilized for several purposes: They led to improvements in tension and enabled printing on 12-μm. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and 20-μm. to 25-μm. BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene). Carton printing was introduced to many narrow web flexo print shops via the multi-board press. By the end of the century, narrow web widths had been again expanded, this time to 620-mm . (24-in.) Presses were able to print on labels, plastic films and cardboards. And servo motors began to make apperances on infeeds. OMET’s 1994 launch of the Multiflex at Labelexpo Chicago, incorporated several of these advancements. Two years later, OMET’s machine evolved into the Multifilm and, two years after that, the firm unveiled the Multiboard 520. The company bookended the 1990s with introducton of the Flexy, entry level quick change press. 2000-2010 Since the turn of the century, the narrow web press has continued its evolution and perpetual refinement. Servo motors began appearing on more printing units. Print decks with 100 percent gearless sleeve technology cropped up in the mid web press sector, making such machines capable of printing flex- ible packaging, like plastic films and cardboards, and integrat- ing other printing processes, like offset and gravure. As the 2000s continued, additional developments were introduced, including an in-line hologram unit, lamination using solvents, water and adhesives and refined, automated register control systems. One of the most concerning printing costs is waste and this decade brought with it reduced waste at start-up from automated preregistration, as well as other technological synergies, like installing cameras on printing units. Short web paths, with an impression cylinder and chill drum combination and direct-drive motors came later. A num- ber of die advancements came about as well, affording die stock reduction, minimization of die handling and elimination of the risk of non-compliant dies. And overall printing speed was boosted. Varyflex was OMET’s first major product launch of the century and it incorporated a number of these advance- ments, like gearless sleeves and flexible packaging printing. The Varyflex would go on to receive an in-line hologram unit, waste reduction and register control systems. The company later unveiled Xflex in 2007 and it was awarded FTA’s Technical Innovation Award the following year for representing a new level of automation and waste reduction, one of the most stable print platforms, fast changeover times and above-average user-friend- liness. 2010-TODAY Tracing the narrow web press’ timeline from 2010 through today reveals an up- tick in digital components being introduced. With that digital growth comes a renewed focus on print speed and consis- tency. Looking to the future, OMET’s immediate plans include further expansion of narrow and mid web printing, to 850-mm . (33-in.) , along with improvements to the inkflow and inkpath. n About the Author: Massimo Bellingardi is the marketing coordinator for OMET S.r.L . The firm specializes in the produc- tion of narrow web label, folding cartons and tissue presses. Information discussed in this article was collected during through interviews with OMET R&D. Technologies discussed above are reflected in the company ’s products, which include the Varyflex and XFlex. The first ET 220 typographical label press, designed by OMET for Eurolabel of Milan. The machine marked OMET’s entrance into the label market. OMET’s cold foil unit, used for metallic printing effects 78 FLEXO augusT 2013 www.flexography.org