Anilox roll manufacturer Sandon Global Engraving has announced the installation of a new Plasma coating line at its facility in Runcorn, Cheshire. The system was supplied by Sultzer Metco and has enabled the company to develop its own coating standard under the brand name T-Coat+ and represents a £600,000 investment in thermal plasma technology for the manufacture of its laser engraved anilox rolls and sleeves.
According to the company, the T-Coat+ system integrates robotic torch handling and roll rotation manipulation to rotate the roll at the correct surface speed and spray distance to apply the required coating. This improves the quality of coatings by providing accurate and repeatable parameters and increases production rates through simple operator interface and set-up. Coatings can be applied to tighter tolerances minimizing powder usage and waste and reducing post finishing process times. Installed over a four month period, the T-Coat+ system operates in clean room conditions and includes error alerts through self diagnostic software.
Managing Director John Millington says, “The new thermal plasma coating line is a necessary investment if we are to sustain the increasing demand for sharper, crisper images in flexo printing quality. This installation is hugely significant and will give us the edge on anilox roll consistency and give our customers the quality of print the end user expects. We have been successful in this market in a very short time by maintaining nimble production practice and this new investment means we can control the whole process and no longer have to out-source coating. All anilox roll production is statistically analysed to ensure laser engraving to the highest consistency and we have been able to shorten lead times as well as reduce inventory.”
The Sultzer Metco Triplex system was specified to use hydrogen gas which the company says offers a number of advantages over helium systems, notably improvements in the consistency of coatings, increased hardness of the ceramic if needed and reduced porosity levels. A five year expansion plan foresees investment in further laser engraving equipment and the purchase of a second Plasma line is also currently under discussion.