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Omet: A press manufacturer with the wind in its sales

April 20, 2009

An open house at its factory in northern Italy gives the company the opportunity to demonstrate its combination presses and technological innovations.

For more than 40 years, Omet has been designing and manufacturing printing and converting machines for the narrow web industry. In late March, the company showed its latest technology at the Converflex show in Milan, Italy. Omet also timed its Open Days to coincide with the show, and invited customers and journalists to visit its plant in nearby Lecco, on the shore of Lake Como.

While the Italian label industry is still stunned by the sudden implosion of GIDUE last December, Omet has apparently not reefed its sails, despite the continuing storm winds of the global economic crisis.

Although visitor numbers at the Converflex show seemed to be down on the day your correspondent visited, the Omet booth was well patronized for the demonstrations of the company’s latest Varyflex F-1. Champagne flowed that day when a Russian label converter arrived and quite rapidly finalized a major press purchase order. Said Omet’s Marco Calcagni, “Of course it wasn’t entirely an impulse purchase, but we didn’t expect the deal to be finalized quite so soon.”

The late-afternoon demo at Omet’s plant in Lecco attracted managers from more than 20 label converting companies. The guests were mostly from Italy, including one, Emmanuele Mussumarra, who had traveled from Palermo at the opposite end of this long country. “I want to see before I buy,” he said. What they came to see was a comprehensive workout by Omet’s latest presses, including a six-color 430mm VaryFlex with four UV offset and two UV flexo units, for printing/converting labels and flexible packaging. This was a world premier of Omet’s combination flexo/offset technology.Demonstrations included the insertion of new colors or text (particularly valued in Europe, where labels must often be printed in many language variants). To effect this change, the operator had already carried out the print pressure adjustment upstream, inserted the inking carriage, and checked that the press was in register with the register master reference (the one printing the mark). At the moment of truth, the operator just pressed a button to insert the new print and graphics “on the fly.”The final adjustment was then made through the register control system. The press operator looked nonchalant, as from the ranks of the visitors 30 pairs of eyes waited in vain for something to go wrong. The most impressive part of the maneuver was the almost instantaneous register control, and the fact that the press slowed down only slightly (from 200 to 150 m/minute) during the changeover.

On the same press we also saw the start-up of a new production run. For this, the Varyflex was run at low speed (around 10 meters, or 30 feet per minute) while the register master reference was inserted; the operator then moved to each print unit in turn to activate the print cylinder (which was automatically set in register), adjusting pressures as necessary. When he reached the far end of the machine, the final fine registration adjustments were made using Omet’s Vision System (they can also be made manually from the operator's panel).At this point the press was ramped up to full production speed, and again, the register was perfect.

The second machine demonstrated on this whistle-stop tour was the Omet X-Flex, in 340mm web width, with cold foil and rotary screen units. This is a label press with a “straight-through” web path that generates low waste.According to the manufacturer, the X-Flex has the shortest web path in the industry, with only 1,650mm (65”) of substrate per print station, and produces the lowest waste of any press on the market, only 30m (98 feet) of waste on an eight-color machine. Other features of this latest version of the X-Flex include a new concept that integrates the impression cylinder with the chill drum for improved print quality. With fewer than normal mechanical parts and lower inertia, register control during acceleration and deceleration was again shown to be excellent. The X-Flex also has an optimized tension control system for handling filmic substrates like the transparent PET used for the demo, a gearless/shaftless sleeve design, an innovative new ink pan that requires only 0.25 liters of ink to print, a quick-change gearless anilox system for very rapid changeovers, and an automatic register control system, which adjusts both machine and lateral web directions on each print station.

Other Omet equipment demonstrated included a seven-color 670mm VaryFlex line running solvent laminating of transparent PET and BOPP using hot air drying, and a 530mm VaryFlex applying holograms offline onto pre-printed paper reels.

Omet is certainly feeling the chill wind of the economic downturn whistling through its corporate rigging. However, with its latest technology and its experienced management team, it looks to be in good shape to weather the present storm.

(Omet is represented in North America by Matik.)

— By John Penhallow