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RCS 330 prototype proved by Permapack

A year on from agreeing to host the pilot installation of the Gallus RCS 330 label press, Swiss converter Permapack is well pleased with its performance. The press, which was launched at Labelexpo USA, 2000, is housed in one of the company’s two sites in the lakeside town of Rohrschach – a short distance from the Gallus factory in St Gallen. It is one of eight Gallus machines among the 10 presses Permapack uses to print self adhesive labels, packaging tapes and films. The company also has seven slitters and two sheeters, and a total of 250 employees. Labels account for 30 per cent of the overall business.

“The quick change-over capability of the RCS 330 suits our wide range of work – we print around 12,000 jobs a year, and 50 per cent of the runs are less than 90min,” reports Mark Lehmann, head of packaging. “On some jobs the saving in set-up time is over 50 per cent, and the average is 25 per cent. The wash-up saving is 55 per cent plus,” he continues, “and on running time it’s approximately 10 per cent, but we are still evaluating that. Waste savings range from 45-67 per cent.”

Combinations

The modular based press has seven stations, offering UV flexo and rotary screen printing separately or in combination. “We change processes up to five times a day on a two-shift system,” Mark Lehmann explains. “The machine’s reliability is good, we’ve only had a few teething problems with the software, which is to be expected with any prototype”. In fact Permapack has a direct modem link to the Gallus troubleshooting team but has not yet needed to use it.

He continues: “We don’t have conclusive results for screen printing yet, but in terms of UV flexo we have been able to identify clear advantages in changing texts or colours, and in follow-on speed. In addition to significantly shorter set-up and makeready times, particularly with smaller jobs, there is remarkable consistency when the speed is increased. It is guaranteed because the impression cylinder is controlled electronically. The print quality is very close to letterpress,” he emphasized.

The back-up provided by Permapack’s in-house plate making and ink mixing facilities also play a key part. “It is also essential to have efficient in-house plate and ink facilities – to keep up with jobs, so the RCS can be used to its full capacity.” Spectrophotometers are used in the ink facility and on the press to ensure colour accuracy for special accounts.

Permapack’s experience appears to justify the Gallus claim that the RCS 330 represents “a quantum leap forward in label printing technology”. Its combination of automation and single drive technology with three or four servo driven main shaft cylinders is said to provide great operational efficiency, and drastically reduced set-up and change-over times. Centralized operation of all functions and components is achieved through a touchscreen panel and digital handwheel.

The design offers a platform concept and modules for a wide range of jobs, with up to 12 print stations, combining UV flexo, rotary screen, and hot foil stamping, with reverse side printing by reverse drive. Rotary die cutting, embossing, and laminating are also available. Top speed is 160m/min, maximum web width is 335mm, and the print width 330mm. Repeat lengths are from 304.8-609.6mm in increments of 3.175mm, with a continuous option. Gallus says an offset printing option will be introduced soon.

Versatility

Special features of the press include flying imprinting for text changes while the machine is running; data storage for repeat orders; and dynamic printing adjustment to ensure constant colour tone over the whole speed range. The system also incorporates automatic longitudinal and lateral register control, automatic web tension pre-adjustment, and automatic washing of anilox rollers on the press.

Mark Lehmann summarizes: “We can confirm that with this label printing system Gallus has taken an enormous technological lead which will give us really major advantages in practice”.

Following its successful field test with Permapack, a second RCS 330 has been supplied to German company Römer.