Elopak: A flexo printing case study
Growing customer demands for service, quality and fast delivery times are the main challenges for the packaging printing industry. Continuous product innovations make it difficult for companies to keep up with their competitors.
Based in Speyer, Elopak GmbH is a member of the Norwegian Ferd Group, an international supplier of paper-based packaging solutions for liquid foods. The company recognized an ever-increasing quality difference with its practice of directly mounting the sleeves on air cylinders, without the use of adapters.
Today, many flexo printing jobs require shorter machine run-times resulting in an increased number of job changes. This is a particular challenge for set-up times.
Each machine set-up at Elopak was associated with extreme strain on the press operator due to the weight of the air cylinders. Conventional adapter systems were tried, but could not be implemented because of the sub-standard print quality results, explained the company.
In addition, the supply of compressed air through the conventional adapter air holes did not work with the existing air supply system on the printing press.
In cooperation with Flint Group’s Technical Service, a rotec Atlas Eco Bridge adapter was custom made for Elopak, explaining that the special feature lies in the unique air supply system.
Instead of air holes, a breathable metal ring evenly builds up an immediate air pillow around the entire circumference of the adapter, allowing much easier sleeve mounting, said Flint Group, noting that the airflow can be reduced by up to 90 percent and the noise level can be reduced to room volume.
Flint describes the rotec Atlas Eco Bridge as a high-modulus carbon adapter, feauring carbon fibre construction with low-vibration and vibration-damping properties that significantly improves the print quality, especially at higher print speeds.
Elopak’s press operators reported, “Until now, two employees had to change the air cylinder at 45 Kg. With the rotec Atlas Eco Bridge (16.5 kg), this can be done by one person only, while the other already sets up the machine. We can work much easier and faster now.”
Another step in the process optimization was the plate mounting.
Elopak said its biggest challenge is accurately matching the customer’s desired print result with a simulation. When using traditional sleeves, employees must accurately attach the plates to the sleeves using a compressible adhesive tape. Mounting errors such as air pockets or a displaced motive cannot always be avoided.
Now having used the compressible sleeve for more than 20 years, Elopak says the rotec Compressible Sleeve is the best solution for this, noting the compressible surface allows for optimum printing results with combined half-tone and solid areas in one printing unit.
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