Flexo Technology Up to date with latest flexo industry trends

In today's competitive marketplace, converters are being asked to reduce both time-to-market and warehouse turnovers, they must also deal with shorter runs and unexpected changes without forgetting the necessity of achieving higher production goals and ensuring quality


onsumer purchasing trends are increasing the pressure on packaging converters as brands look to them not

only for improved execution, but also for innovation. Flexible packaging printers are being constantly challenged to improve their processes and efficiency, to compress manufacturing time, lower costs and achieve high quality standards. Market research points towards a constant reduction in the job length due to the ever-increasing demands for changes by the brand owners. These demands add an urgency to reducing the time between job changeovers. However, later on, some new procedures in flexographic printing, such as extended gamut printing (EGP), which are being boosted by new improvements such as the development of plate technologies, inks and software, are helping flexographic printing to reduce downtimes and increase overall machine uptime (OEE). Printing multiple jobs in different layers - combo printing or job ganging – is increasing again the average job length, thus pushing up the importance of high speed machines, and allowing converters to make short runs less short and more profitable. Machine manufacturers keep demonstrating their commitment towards customer success and satisfaction. This commitment is most evident with the continuous release of solutions based on automation and dedicated to solving daily production problems while committing to every new trend in the market. The involvement in reducing machine downtimes, increasing printing quality at maximum speed, and the

16 June 2018

improvement of working conditions in a disruptive way was the catalyst that triggered the development of the new F1, the flexographic printing machine with an automatic device for sleeve changeover. A solution that incorporates a robot capable of automatically manipulating anilox, plate and intermediate sleeves to reduce the necessary time for job changeover, while being able to achieve a maximum speed of 600m per minute. A great step forward in satisfying the converters current needs. Simulations and comparisons made in- house and at customer facilities between the two working systems – machine with and without robot – demonstrate improvements in sleeve changeover time that range from almost 30 per cent to a maximum reduction nearing 90 per cent. The below image illustrates the increase in production capacity and the number of

orders that can be managed using a machine with a robot, compared to a machine without. Additional benefits can be found while combining the automation of the robot with the use of fixed palette printing with four colours plus white. This amazing combination allows the possibility of replicating the process colours in the inner and outer decks. The robot can change the sleeves of the unused decks while the machine is printing and there is no need to change anilox. Also, there is no need to change inks and no need for colour matching on press. The sum of all these factors can provide machine uptimes close to 90 per cent. Printers and converters also try to find other improvements in machine performance and its easy handling. Keeping that in mind, as a machine manufacturer Comexi focus on adding additional improvements in ergonomics, such as the platform for a faster changeover of doctor blades, a better access to all the maintenance points and a high performance electronic system, enabling printers to boost their production and increase the number of jobs they manage. In pursuing efficiency, it is necessary that the entire process and management has been designed and studied to achieve this goal. When it comes to monitoring and ensuring quality, companies are launching new systems capable of finding the exact point for optimal printing quality with minimum overpressure, thus leading to increased productivity of the full printing process due to the reduction of the wasted time for cleaning plates. This would be the case of the Comexi Cingular Real2, the new and automatic system capable of comparing the real printed image with the digital file of the job, allowing printers a consistent, easy and full automatic pressure and register set up with minimum waste. To conclude, whether machine manufacturers opt for disruptive innovation or gradual and incremental improvements to face nowadays challenges, there is a common trend in developing solutions that target efficiency to satisfy flexible packaging market needs. Automation and cloud solutions will become necessary for survival through profitability in the quickly changing environment of the flexible packaging market. 

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