Multi-Disciplined

Published on Flexography.org

 

“As label and packaging printers continue to struggle with shorter run lengths, many are focused on maximizing press up time to generate the most income and best return on investment (ROI),” explains Steven Leibin, executive vice president/business development, Matik, Inc., the exclusive North American distributor for Edale. “New automation technologies/features can truly improve their process and their bottom line.”

 

He further notes, “There is a lot of noise about short web length, servos, quick-change capabilities, etc., which are important individual features; but the key is to combine these attributes with changeover automation in a cost-effective package that delivers improved throughput with greater consistency.”

 

Steven observes, “Markets change quickly. Label and packaging printers need to adapt quickly. Press platforms need to be adaptable to future needs. For example, it is difficult to live on labels alone anymore, so many customers also produce shrink sleeves, pouches, bottle wraps, tags and folding cartons to offer more to their customers.”

 

His list of strategic considerations has efficient operation at its core. It includes:

  • Total job setup or job changeover time plus waste, which includes changing graphics, changing color, inking adjustments, impression adjustments, register adjustments, final color adjustments—the entire process, not just individual pieces of the process
  • Multi-substrate capabilities—from 12­-µ. unsupported films to tag or heavy board stocks
  • Superior output and reduced costs—it is becoming harder and harder to find/keep skilled press operators. Autonomous printing (like autonomous cars) uses automation to independently set up and print a job, thus delivering high quality and consistency with reduced waste and setup times
  • Flexibility—options on a rail system, like cold foil, hot foil, laminations, delam/relam plus multi-color inkjet systems or single-color inkjet for hybrid applications
  • Reliability—a printing platform you can depend on day in and day out, now and in the future
  • High-quality print made simple—the market demands high-quality labels and packaging. Converters need to be able to produce it simply, quickly and consistently
  • Support—different levels of support are required with today’s more sophisticated press technologies
  • Hybrid experience—many flexo press manufacturers are offering hybrid solutions, but few have any real experience or have many installations in the field
  • Pre-register and autonomous register control—“independent” register control can greatly reduce waste and speed up changeovers, regardless of operator skills
  • Price/performance value—it is important for label and packaging converters to get the most for their money

 

“Edale’s motto is, ‘Transforming Print,’” according to Steven. “Profitability is tied to press uptime, throughput and performance. Having a reliable technology that performs as needed, when needed, is a key to label printers profitability.” He stresses, “Edale uses full servo technology (no line shaft and gearless impression) along with its patented UNIPRINT print head technology to deliver industry leading print quality and consistency. Add in Edale’s AiiR autonomous printing and automated finishing capabilities to achieve unprecedented consistency.”

 

Steven maintains, “Experience is key to delivering solutions that are reliable in a production environment. Incorporating inkjet into a flexo press platform is not as easy as many people think. Working with a vendor that has proven solutions is a key to success.”

 

“There is a lot of noise about short web length, servos, quick-change capabilities, etc., which are important individual features; but the key is to combine these attributes with changeover automation in a cost-effective package that delivers improved throughput with greater consistency.” Steven Leibin, Matik/Edale

 

Elaborating as to how, he says, “Edale has been building hybrid press solutions (narrow and mid web) for more than 15 years. Starting in 2002, Edale partnered with Agfa to develop the Agfa Dotrix 26-in. mid web inkjet press. Then in 2014, Edale partnered with FFEI and Fujifilm to develop the Graphium hybrid press. Edale has more than 50 hybrid presses installed worldwide including recent 30-in. and 60-in. inkjet machines developed for INCA & SPGprints, as well as delivering a Graphium hybrid press with nine flexo print stations and five inkjet colors along with full press automation.

 

“By adding the Graphium inkjet system to existing FL3 or FL5 flexo presses in 13-in. and 17-in. widths, as well as the EFX Print Bar for custom finishing capabilities (digital cold foil, high build varnish, digital screen white, digital peal ‘n read, numbering/bar coding), or adding additional printing/finishing capabilities, such as screen, gravure and inline solvent or water-based lamination systems for film applications, label and packaging printers can improve capabilities,” Steven decrees.

 

Returning to thoughts on service and support, he describes several appropriate options. First, mechatronic field support: “Service technicians are no longer just mechanics; they need to be multi-disciplined, including knowledge of electrical, mechanical and computer technologies, to service modern printing presses. Having field technicians with current skill sets is a must to provide proper service for today’s technologies.”

 

Also a necessity, in Steven’s eyes, is engineering and project support. “Designing machines to meet unique production requirements provides label and packaging printers innovative solutions in the marketplace. Partnering with a manufacturer that has the engineering expertise to develop custom solutions is important to delivering differentiation in a competitive marketplace.”

 

Process training, he deems, is an absolute must. “Understanding how to capitalize on the usage of these new press technologies, as well as developing the proper workflow, is key to maximizing your ROI. Too often, customers fail to change their workflow culture with new equipment. Partnering with a vendor who can provide process training is vital in today’s high-technology world.”