UV-cured rotary screen printing is synonymous with premium quality self-adhesive labels. For some flexo converters, cost is an inhibiting factor, but NiIpeter thinks it has an affordable answer with its “drop-in” screen unit. The main drawback at present is that usage is restricted to Nilpeter’s FA-3300 flexo press. Nevertheless it offers some pointers to the new market realism, which suggests that production features should offer both flexibility and ease of operation.
Nilpeter says that roughly one in three of the narrow web presses it currently supplies for label or package printing incorporate screen units. The company developed the drop-in approach with Stork Prints in the Netherlands. It works by adding a rubber drop-in impression roller in place of a print cylinder and removing the anilox and doctor rollers. Each unit can be installed in any head in a matter of minutes at any stage in the production sequence, if there is need to replace any printing unit, or extend an existing press configuration.
Among the beta testers was the OPM Group from Bradford, in West Yorkshire in the UK. It has since retrofitted two drop units on a two-year-old FA-3300, equipped with eight flexo units and a cold-foil unit. Production includes self-adhesive labels and film-based pouches and sachets. “We have completely integrated the new screen units within the press and retained the same UV lamp configuration. The units also operate with the same print register controls so there is no extra set-up time involved,” says Chris Ellison, OPM’s chairman. He says the operators find the slot-in version is easier to use than the conventional Stork RSI screen system. Also, because the units are not mounted above the regular flexo print units, the web path is shorter and material waste is reduced.
Jakob Landberg, sales director for Nilpeter, expects above-average demand for the new drop-in system, especially from users in East Europe, Russia and South East Asia. “Printing houses in these regions have increasingly expressed a wish for the simplest possible means to integrate screen printing into existing flexo presses. They have achieved tremendous advances in terms of print quality in recent years. Many have skipped a number of development stages and adapted their quality standards surprisingly quickly. The new generation of Asian label printing shops demand maximum flexibility in order to open up horizons in different market segments. This flexibility also applies to the substrates used, such as printing and converting label laminates, packaging films or carton board.”