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Laser die cutter link to digital

AB Graphic International and Intech have co-operated to develop the Sabre Extreme CO2 laser digital die cutting system, claimed to offer on-demand converting without the expense and wear and tear of handling and storing conventional tooling.

At the front of the system the operator can use the Softplot software to either import or create the die line pattern, edit it and then test the die line on a ‘virtual machine’ before going to actual production of the finished product. The die cutting module employs twin CO2 lasers said to provide very fast cutting for high quality at speeds in excess of 120m/min. A ‘Position Domain Controller’ provides true real-time web tracking, ensuring accurate registration with each image, it is claimed.

An important aspect of the Sabre Extreme is the laminar flow smoke control. Using laser energy for die cutting creates varying degrees of smoke and particulate waste. Efficient removal and collection of these by-products is said to be ensured by the laminar flow smoke control to minimize deposition of debris on the laser lens and contamination of the work environment.

The Mark II Sabre Extreme version launched at Labelexpo Americas is said to offer faster cutting and superior cut quality. A modular design allows for simple maintenance functions that enable the lasers to operate for over 20,000 hours of actual working time. It can be used in-line with other printing and converting operations or off-line to allow high speed printing.

In trials the Sabre Extreme is said to have demonstrated the ability to both kiss cut and through cut most paper and filmic substrates, with especially good results achieved on cartonboard. Optimized for digitally printed webs, it is said to offer many benefits over conventional die cutting without tooling. The die line is simply downloaded from the prepress department, the image stepped across the web, the material cut type and cut path selected, and the system is ready to start production.

Sabre Extreme can be supplied with the Omega Digicon machine for converting digitally printed webs into labels or folding cartons.

Offset alternative

Muller Martini’s new Alprinta web offset press for form, mailing and label printing features a high level of automation, a new inking system and CIP integration. The company says it makes new applications possible, “as well as run lengths previously dominated by sheet-fed presses”.

A new operator interface is said to offer the best possible clarity and convenience, while the CIP integration and a new drive concept help achieve a consistent reduction in waste. As well as printing, products can also be finished in-line, with perforating, punching and trimming operations. The press will handle self adhesive labels, and labels made of paper or film.

The Alprinta is available with print widths of 520 and 740mm, and a product size range from 508-864mm. Optional expansion to mm formats makes it possible, for example, to produce DIN formats accurately. The trim required previously is no longer necessary.

A new insert allows use of print cartridges made of composite materials with which “practically any print length can be set”. In the range from 508-720mm, the press can be adjusted to customer requirements in increments of 0.1mm by changing plate and blanket cylinders.

Each print unit is independently servo driven. The press can be configured to run at production speeds of up to 450m/min. The Alprinta is JDF/JMF compatible and can be integrated into CIP4 standard workflow. The control system can be integrated into external and company networks.

RFID lead from Mark Andy

Mark Andy will demonstrate its recently developed RFID strap and inlay insertion equipment incorporating RFID straps and inlays from Texas Instruments at a seminar on April 27.

Entitled ‘In-Line RFID Solutions for Today’s Converters’, this one day meeting will combine Mark Andy’s printing and converting technology with an RFID inlay and strap insertion module developed by Tamarack Products as a commercial product line for companies looking to integrate RFID into narrow web label lines. The event, which will be held at Mark Andy’s Advanced Training & Technology Centre in Milford, Ohio, will cover a variety of key topics surrounding RFID and Electronic Product Code label production.

The Texas Instruments components will enable converters to produce finished EPC Gen 2 RFID labels from reels of straps that allow them to attach straps directly onto printed antennae, or reels of inlays, in which the inlay (chip and antenna) is inserted into a label.

According to Ken Daming, Mark Andy director of product management: “Mark Andy is taking the necessary steps to be a leading solution provider for the label converting and printing market.”

EM280 flexo upgrade

FlexoArt has launched a flexo chamber unit for the Gallus EM280 label press, said to be the first such solution of its kind for that model. Using the tailor-made unit with the same patented chamber suspension as in the company’s full size systems (up to 3,000mm), it is said to guarantee trouble-free printing even with problematic ink and varnish – and at high speeds – due to the vibration-free construction.

“The unit is sold as a complete pre-adjusted kit which is installed and ready to be used in just a few minutes” says FlexoArt managing director Per Bengtsson. “No tools or modifications of the machine are required and you even use the same handling and pump as before.”

A prototype of the new chamber was shown at drupa and the finished unit was presented at flexo 2005, in Birmingham.

Wider opportunities

Latest offering from Gidue is the servo driven X-Combat press for automatic reel-to-reel production of packaging materials. Based on the company’s proven Flower print head and E-Combat press, the X-Combat is equipped with MR and ATR non stop, unwind and rewind systems.

Comments managing director Federico d’Annunzio: “Narrow web converters can use their broad skills in UV flexo to penetrate the flexible packaging market, which is placing new demands on printers with shorter runs and just in time deliveries. The exceptional skills in quick change-over developed by label printers will become extremely useful in competing in the wide web environment.”

He continues: “The level of print quality, and standardization achievable with UV flexo technology and productivity on short and medium runs are opportunities the narrow web converter should not lose sight of. Many print buyers purchase cartons and flexible packaging in addition to labels. By offering a wider range of products and services, converters are in a position to grow their business and continue to provide a profitable return on capital investment.”

He believes mid web, 500-830mm wide flexo presses will provide the most important growth area. “The servo driven X-Combat with MR and ATR unwind and rewind were developed to provide printers with the opportunity to broaden their market areas”.

The MR is a semi automatic double unwinder that enables the operator to change reels at a speed of 30-40m/min without stopping the press. In addition to the two unwinders, which can be brake or servomotor driven, there is a dancer operated tension control and a ‘marriage roller’ splicing system.

The ATR is a fully automatic turret rewinder that includes a dancer operated tension controller, a slitting unit, a ‘banana roller’, a blade cutting device and a double spindle rewinder. Each spindle is servo driven. Reel changes at 200m/min are possible with reel diameters of up to 1,000mm. The tension control feature allows cutting of very thin filmic materials as well as cartonboard up to 450g/m2.

Double drying system benefits

Omet has installed its first Flexy narrow web flexo press in China, in co-operation with its Shanghai branch office.

A new frame was developed for the Chinese machine, to accommodate both UV and infra red drying modules. It also has a hot air drying hood. This combination is said to allow a remarkable increase in printing speed, greater drying uniformity and overall better performance.

The machine has a web width of 420mm, nine flexo units, cooling drums, Omet register control, cutting unit and table for diecut sheet output. It can print self adhesive labels, film and folding cartons.

Infra red and ultrasonic edge detection

Designed for converters running a wide range of materials, the WideArray Fusion dynamically compensated array edge detector from AccuWeb combines ultrasonic and infra red technologies. The patent pending detector is compatible with Micro 1000 and Micro 4000NET controllers, which automatically select ultrasonic or IR detection modes, based on substrate properties.

AccuWeb’s dynamic compensation technology is said to eliminate guide point drift due to process contaminants such as dust or dirt, environmental factors like temperature or humidity, and passline variations caused by web movement or flutter. The compensated edge detectors use a separate reference beam that recalibrates every four milliseconds, “assuring a true web path while eliminating the need for operator adjustments”, the company states.

AccuWeb now offers all-metric intermediate positive displacement web guides. The low inertia plate design is said to provide fast frequency response for narrow web applications. Each guide incorporates AccuWeb’s proprietary linear bearing system that permits installation in vertical, horizontal, or inverted positions.

MIS manages stock control

A management information system from Imprint enables Cardiff, UK, based BP Labels, to manage a very tight schedule of short-to-medium run length jobs. BP Labels serves the pharmaceutical, toiletries and cosmetics sectors and typically averages 800-1,200 jobs a month.

Production manager Jeff Smith reveals: “Since installing the Imprint system we hold 50 per cent less stock while producing 50 per cent more jobs, as well as shifting to JIT delivery – simply from the system knowing what’s in stock and managing it effectively. We were going to put in 84 rack bays, but now we don’t have to because we’re not holding raw stock. In fact, keeping finished stock levels down is our biggest challenge.”

All materials are weighed as they arrive and coded into the MIS system to determine the number of linear metres available. Part-used rolls are weighed again to calculate the exact amount of material left. “This also means that if one customer has problems with a label substrate, we can immediately see which other jobs have used that same roll and warn those people,” he says.

Each job is held in the MIS system with a complete manufacturing spec, including S&R, colours and materials through to delivery dates and destination. A separate module handles complex split or part delivery requirements, with a colour coded display for what has already been shipped, what is due to go out, and items not available or approved for dispatch.


AB Graphic International
Tel: +44 (0)1262 671138
Tel: +1 608 223 0625
Tel: +46 (0) 435 100 95
Tel: +39 02 9668181
+44 (0) 1245 231670
Mark Andy
Tel: +1 636 532 4433
Muller Martini
Tel: +49-7 11 45 85 0
Tel: +39 0341 367513

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AB Graphic International
Mark Andy
Muller Martini