“It’s flexo, but as close to digital print as you can come,” says Michael Paulin, Factory Manager. “It has been a dream come true with REVO. Now we are able to print a difficult CMYK and Pantone label and know that the result will be the same in the printing press as the proof. We have cut down the set-up time and increased the speed. However, first we had to change all preparatory stages and processes, to get it working perfectly.” Indeed, he says, some jobs have now been transferred from Lexit’s digital press to the BOBST M5, as the work is more cost-efficient.
“Our customers have seen that with the BOBST M5 the register is really perfect, and it doesn't move a lot. We create jobs with seven colors and small text and we get really perfect results. We get much nicer labels now on the BOBST. We are also printing with low migration inks, that the food industry likes.”
Lexit is a Scandinavian label specialist based in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with production plant in Sweden. Its total turnover is about 40 million Euros. It was founded in 1993 as a label software and barcode developer, and later moved into printed label production. The Mölnlycke plant currently employs 63 people and before the BOBST M5 was installed in October 2017 it already had five conventional Mark Andy flexo presses, two AB Graphics Omega die-cutting units plus an HP Indigo 6000 digital label press. It also has two Digicon die-cutting units, and one Prati IML unit.
Short run benefits
When the Mölnlycke plant was looking to expand its short-run capacity it originally considered another digital press, says Mr Paulin. “No digital press could serve us with the amount of labels we needed to print every week, therefore we would have needed to buy more than one press. So we looked at BOBST and the REVO project.”
REVO Digital Flexo is a multi-vendor co-operation that combines a seven-color low-migration UV-cured ink set made by Flint Group, with pre-press and separation software and CDi plate imaging units developed by Esko, DuPont EFX flat-top plates and processors, BOBST highly automated flexo presses made by Bobst Firenze in Italy, AVT camera monitoring and process control systems, and UPM Raflatac label materials.
Lexit uses all of the system components, except it only has the AVT camera monitoring system and not yet the full automation. Instead the printing and profiling is done with measuring equipment from X-Rite, another REVO partner.
The BOBST M5 press takes rolls up to 530 mm wide and runs at up to 200 m/minute. “The best part is also that you can put in the next job with print cylinders while machine is running, says Mr Paulin. “this is not actually REVO, it’s a BOBST feature.”
Lexit’s M5 press is configured for 430 mm label widths, with ten color units, for white, then the REVO color set of CMYK, orange, green and Reflex Blue, then two final units that can be used for white, clear or special colors. It has a cold foiling unit that is rail mounted for application at the start or end of the print sequence. BOBST’s SnowBall and Bambi optional stripping aids are fitted and there is also an automated knife station and glueless turret rewinder so labels come off the press line completely finished and ready to pack and deliver.
The process control, automation and repeatable accuracy were all attractive features of REVO, says Mr Paulin. “I originally worked in the offset sector from 1995 before I came to Lexit,” he says. “There you usually measured colors, you had automatic plate mounting, everything on the printing press was auto. And when I started at Lexit seven years ago I saw flexo needed a big change. A new flexo job took an extremely long time to set up compared to offset.”
Consistent color and instant changes
A big advantage of the REVO processes is consistency, he says, because the same ink colors are always used on the press and because there is very accurate control of the ink thickness and pressure, while the anilox cylinders are produced to very high tolerances. “You save a lot of set up time as you do not need to wash out ink trays, change aniloxes and colors all the time,” he explains.
Lexit installed its own pre-press and platemaking systems in order to control the whole process end-to-end. “If you are going to have the REVO system you really need to do the plate making yourself,” says Mr Paulin. “For customers we can have plates ready in one hour if it is a real panic job. It's not such a big difference from digital work – we can have a job printed the same day if you really need it, but then we need to move other planned jobs.”
Customers are usually happy with the accuracy of the REVO seven color set for most Pantone values, says Mr Paulin. “You may not always match the color exactly, but it´s really close. But that's the same of course when you mix a Pantone ink color: you don't always match it exactly anyway because of the material and so on. We always print what will be the best for the work and the customer. Sometimes REVO, sometimes digital, sometimes flexo with Pantone colors.”
Collaboration smooths the flow
In summary then, what does Mr Paulin think is the biggest advantage of adopting the REVO process? “I like the way that REVO gives quicker setup and you have more control of the colors of the print every time. Also, with REVO you have all these partners in this group that are working together. Before that you would buy each part separately and if there was trouble everyone was blaming each other. Now the group is working together to help you and that's the great thing!”