The Disruptive Tools Used by Flexographic Printers

With job lengths constantly getting shorter, today’s flexible packaging market is strongly defined by setup times.

In every minute of setup, your machine is not productive. That’s why one of our goals, as a producer of printing machines, is to empower customers to maximize productivity, and therefore success.

Allstein Fox AllsteinPicture 1
A 10-color, 67-in. HYDRO press with robot automation for loading sleeves
All photos courtesy of Allstein

Like many press manufacturers, Allstein has a series of features that address short runs and makeready:

  • ARUN is a patented offline, wasteless makeready system, providing correct impression and register settings from the very first impression
  • ACHANGE is the ability to set up unused print decks while the press is running
  • Change on the Fly is the ability to change jobs at full press speed without waste

Technical upgrades in bearings, mandrels and press construction itself provide no-bounce printing at any speed.

Customer Demands

Demands coming from customers more recently appear to be flexibility. Printers are looking to buy presses that cover many different applications, so the presses need to be equipped for a wide substrate range, different types of ink, ability to print both sides of the web, etc.

Allstein Fox Mounter sleeve load
Allstein plate mounter, supplied with patented ARUN zero-speed makeready system, available on HYDRO models

Downstream units that can print both sides of the web, by flexography or gravure, are being asked for at increasing rates. Being that they can switch between running flexography and gravure, these units give printers flexibility to accommodate multiple print applications without adding length to the press.

If a printer needs a downstream unit, but does not have the space available, printers can opt for solutions that offer a short web path unit that mounts above the unwind, saving abundant space in the length of the press.

Innovation & Ergonomics

Press layouts always take into consideration keeping their footprint as small as possible, including keeping the height in many cases less than 16-ft. The focus is on achieving the best possible print results, independent of speed and design.

Allstein Fox Double wide lift
A double-width hydraulic lift for access to all print decks by one operator is available with attached sleeve carts for easy loading of sleeves.

Modern equipment is often based on extensive time studies, undertaken to eliminate wasted operator effort, superfluous motion and unnecessary labor. The aim: Deliver fast and easy changeovers with the least amount of waste in today’s demanding packaging market.

Disruptive, groundbreaking innovations constantly question the status quo in flexographic printing and push the boundaries of what is possible. Integration from a customer’s ERP system to the press, in order to automate the setup of jobs, store historical data and provide valuable process feedback, is just one example.

Allstein works with multiple vendors that supply press inspection. We supply mounting for 100 percent defect detection systems and sampling-type systems in various locations on the press—as needed by the printer’s applications.

Remote support is supplied with all presses, available 24/7 for the life of the press. Automatic calibration of the print decks, with the aid of an automatic calibration tool that requires an operator to merely press a button once the tool is inserted in the press, means that little to no training is necessary. Anyone can correctly and confidently complete the process.

Allstein Fox Combo DS
The combination flexographic and gravure downstream unit for application of inks, varnishes and more to either side of web

Efficiency Model

HYDRO presses for flexible packaging are available in eight or 10 colors, web width of 33-in. to 98-in., repeats up to 85-in., and can run at speeds up to 2,600 fpm. Robots are available for automation of loading sleeves.

Other attractive accoutrements include:

  • A plate mounter/sleeve load system, included in the ARUN package, offers zero-speed makeready by transferring impression and register data via RFID chip in the sleeve
  • A double-width hydraulic lift for access to all print decks by one operator
  • Attached sleeve carts, accompanying the double-width lift, afford easy loading of sleeves
  • Application of ink and varnishes on either side of the web, via a combination flexography/gravure print deck

Easy, fast changeover is accentuated via application of handling solutions, like a transfer bar for heavy adapters, manual or automatic mounters, robotics, turning bars, intuitive slitting solutions, automated splicers—all fitted to a solid, stable central impression (CI) press. High-modulus carbon fiber shafts and print decks enhance stability and performance, and make a significant contribution to eliminating bounce.

About the Author

Headshot Tim Fox
Tim Fox is VP of Sales/North America for Allstein GmbH. He is based outside Green Bay, WI and has 30+ years’ experience in printing equipment marketing and manufacturing. Former experience includes assignments as key account sales manager at Phoseon, GM at MPS North America, regional sales manager at HP and sales manager/inline presses at PCMC.