Mounting is everything

18 May 2017
Topics: plate mounting

Fast sleeve on/sleeve off action on the Camis SleeveMaster

 

Today's highly sophisticated machines take the variables out of platemounting. Neel Madsen learns what is on offer for flexo printers when choosing their equipment.

Correct platemounting is essential to achieve the highest quality flexo print. In times gone by plates were attached to the printing cylinder while these were still on the press, this is no longer the case, as modern printing presses are designed for optimisation of the flexo process. Today the plate is mounted onto a cylinder or sleeve off press, using precision engineered machinery with many helpful features that have been designed to reduce makeready time and ensure superior print quality.

Workflow considerations

Eurograv Limited is the global distributor for Italian manufacturer Camis, which offers a range of platemounting machines. Having introduced 'Total Work Flow Control' across the range, the new generation of the Irisleeve HD mounter promises rapid sleeve mounting times. Based on a 1400 mm sleeve with a 500 mm repeat, a new operator can achieve a three to four minute cycle time - sleeve on sleeve off - within a very short space of time of first using the mounter, stated the company.  

Mike Attard, who is responsible for global sales, commented, 'It's not so much just about automating a process; it's about having efficient systems in place that actually standardises all the tasks to be performed so that they are done quickly and simply, and on one machine. And if that solution is to do something with greater alacrity, repeatability and precision, with less complication, then so be it. And it's this fundamental approach that is the basis behind all Camis' Total Work Flow Control sleeve mounting systems.'  

One customer is IG Design Group UK. The company won gold for Innovation at the EFIA Awards 2017 for its successful transformation from solvent-based gravure printer to implementing a water-based flexo manufacturing platform. The four-year project included installing two 10 colour Uteco Diamond presses, and while the company initially worked with ITR laser engraved sleeves only, it now also uses the Irisleeve HD with Taper-Slide powered tape applicator to mount sleeves for certain jobs.  

Print supervisor Mark Priddy has over 20 years' experience in flexo and gravure, having worked for companies such as Amcor and Cardinal Packaging, and he was heavily involved in the process of swapping DG's print process to flexo. Mr Priddy said, 'The ease of use of the Irisleeve is fantastic; it's simple and highly effective. We trained two operators in the complete sleeve mounting process in around one hour.' He continued, 'The simplicity of the design is exactly what is required for quick and accurate sleeve mounting. You can see the designer has platemounting experience and has thought clearly about the ease of use and repeatability of the whole system. Combined with the powered tape application system, the whole sleeve mounting process is quick and very effective.' Mr Priddy concluded the endorsement by stating that initial tests have found the Camis to be as tight in registration and run out as DG's laser-engraved sleeves.

'This is what it means to have a total work flow control solution,' said Mr Attard. 'In our opinion, we are yet to see any machine that can offer the reliability, accuracy, speed and the pure ergonomic excellence that the Irisleeve HD has to offer.' He added, 'This doesn't mean that Camis is against the idea of automation, far from it, having been the very first adopter of both automated tape and the plate application as far back as drupa 2000 and further more complete automation is being investigated by Camis, but there are caveats.' 

The new Camis SleeveMaster HD, unveiled at drupa last year, was designed to reduce maintenance and calibration of a sleeve mounting solution. Mr Attard explained that the new mounter is expected to form the basis for any further automation that the company sees as beneficial to flexo printers in the future. 'But not at the expense to machine cost, process efficiency or reliability,' he said. 

Mr Attard concluded, 'In very short space of time, several Camis Irisleeve HD machines have been installed in the UK as well as the rest of the world, including as far afield as Siberia.' To cope with demand, the manufacturer will soon move into a new factory near its existing plant in Milan. The new site will offer the ability to increase production three fold as well as house additional offices for greater numbers of technical staff to help further develop the range.

Maximising benefits

Following the launch of the AutoMounter at drupa last year, JM Heaford has installed this model on four continents now. Sally-Anne Heaford, director, said, 'Our first installation was at a customer in British Colombia, Canada, a long way from our plant near Manchester, England. The customer already had a Heaford Mounter Proofer, purchased back in 2000, so knew the precision and reliability of our equipment and the service levels offered.' 

Mounting 2

JM Heaford will be launching a narrow web version of this AutoMounter at Labelexpo Europe

The customer commented, 'The onsite service technician has done an excellent job commissioning the machine as well as training our staff. The technical team's assistance in solving problems that we encountered was first rate. We find the machine extremely easy to use and the accuracy is amazing. As we continue to increase the number of jobs stored in the memory our mounting times are getting faster and faster.' 

Ms Heaford said, 'This statement reflects the trend in platemounting, to de-skill and speed up the process to enable more efficiency in the labour force and to ensure consistency by automating the process.'

To maximise the benefits from investment in an AutoMounter, Heaford has recently launched a Sleeve & Tape Demounter and Sleeve Preparation unit. This dual-purpose machine enables the AutoMounter, or any plate mounter, to be dedicated to platemounting only, ensuring an even quicker return on investment. 

The Demounter is specifically designed to remove plates (and tape) using rollers to provide an even and consistent tension across the printing plate preventing creases and damage during removal. The off-line mounting tape function enhances the cost savings and efficiency of the unit. Using the rollers any air pockets are eliminated and this also eradicates hand rolling of the mounting tape, which is time consuming and can lead to RSI claims.

Another option available on Heaford's machines is sleeve TIR measuring using either contact or laser sensors. The criteria of the scan is user-definable via the mounter interface allowing operators to set the tolerance limits and number of scan points along the sleeve length. The benefits of this option enable the printer to identify if there is a sleeve TIR issue before running it on press.

Mounting 3

Laser pointers help to mount plates correctly

A variant of this option is a sleeve surface-scan using a laser profile scanner. The system scans sleeves in widths from 40 to 100 mm to generate a contour map of the surface enabling the identification of high and low spots, cutting damage, etc. An axial plot view is also available, which will indicate the profile for any given band along the sleeve length. The system can be tailored to suit the customer's needs, from a quick pass of several bands to a full in-depth surface scan.

Information stored in the database include the sleeve identification, date of scan and scan results. A sleeve's scan data can be viewed on a graph and a projection based on historical use to indicate the theoretical remaining production life. This information is key to the quality control of sleeves used and therefore minimising press downtime and wasted print.

David Muncaster, the company's recently appointed operations and business development director, said, 'Like any business the flexo printer is always under pressure to achieve efficiencies in all areas. We are constantly striving to enhance the equipment we manufacture here in the UK and recent developments such as the AutoMounter, Sleeve & Tape Demounter and TIR and sleeve surface scan options demonstrate that. At Labelexpo in Brussels, we'll be launching our AutoMounter for the label printer.'

On the table

Dutch manufacturer AV Flexologic first introduced the second generation of its Semi-Automatic Mounting Machine (SAMM), which it said represents a combination of its combined experience of motorised, semi-automatic and fully automatic mounting machines, at All4Pack in Paris in 2016. 

The SAMM 2.0 uses image recognition, with intelligent software and robotic features, to automate plate positioning, similar to the company's fully automatic machines. As an option, a motorised front table, which automatically extends out of the machine for a fully automatic mount of the plate with no operator intervention, can be supplied. Once the plate has been placed in the field of view, the image recognition technology measures the position of the mounting marks. A vacuum system then locks the plate securely and the machine will correct the position to within 5 microns in less than 30 seconds. 

The machine then runs a quality check to verify this accuracy and this information can be produced as a Quality Report PDF, which shows the exact X and Y positioning of the plate as charts. This can be stored and retrieved for later use.  

 Read the full May issue here 

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