The printer is constantly seeking to save time and reduce waste. A key instrument to obtain tangible savings is automation of processes.
For more than 10 years, printers have been saving job data in order to reuse them. Information on variables, such as substrate thickness and treatments, web tension, pressure settings, and register settings form a recipe for a standard job, which can be saved on all major presses. At the touch of a menu button, a job is pre-set. However, the mechanical processes remain manually executed: Change of plates, anilox rollers, sleeves, etc..
Global Sales Manager at Nilpeter, Jesper Jørgensen, explains, “The trend in narrow web printing moves away from seeing the press as a mechanical piece of machinery towards perceiving it as software-driven, technological equipment. The prepress job data file (JDF) is rapidly gaining a footing in the industry. The JDF is sent to the printing press. The file contains the job protocol, in CIP3 or similar format, which will transfer job data, such as pressure accuracy, dot gain, register, web control, and cutting depth.”
Jesper Jørgensen continues, “Our use of JDFs has several strong advantages. By eliminating trial and error, a lot of time is saved, and material waste is reduced. Moreover, the standardisation ensures consistency of results”.
Having fully automated the printing units, the next step is to bring automation into job-changes. To this end, Nilpeter has introduced CLEANINKING. This one component, replacing the ductor roller, ink tray, and doctor blade holder, has reduced considerably the time spent on mechanical changes. CLEANINKING, combined with electronic settings of anilox rollers, print pressure, substrate thickness, and the register, has greatly optimised a flexo unit job-change.
Attention is also given to the converting unit. With the introduction of the Quick-Change die and digital die technology, automation in die change has increased considerably – to such an extent that a balance is found between the degree of automation in printing and converting.
Automation, with its efficiency and productivity benefits, is what will keep flexo technology competitive in the future – even on the market for short runs. Five years ago, the breakeven point between flexo and digital was thought at 2000 meters. Now with flexo automation improvements, it has been reduced to 800 meters – as a maximum.