According to Andre Gysbers, marketing director at Wink, flexible dies have become the first choice for most label and narrow web applications. Among the advantages are fast production and delivery times, diecutting of intricate shapes, and easy storage and handling.
“Thanks to special surface treatments, flexible dies have become very durable, too, so that service lives are comparable to solid dies,” explains Gysbers. “Overall, this makes flexible dies typically more cost-effective than solid dies.”
Wink offers a comprehensive range of premium quality flexible dies, including its SuperCut dies. Each SuperCut die is adapted to the customer's requirements using the latest CNC technology. Special surface treatments significantly increase the service life of the tools. These finishings include laser hardening (especially for metal-to-metal cutting and film materials), MCR MicroChrome coating for extremely long runs and abrasive materials, as well as four different non-stick coatings that minimize the adhesion of adhesive and paint residues.
Different cutting heights, along with creasing and embossing, can be combined on one die. In addition, Wink offers a wide range of diecutting variants for sheet-fed printing presses. “Our range of flexible dies is accompanied by all types of rotary cylinders, including solid dies, magnetic, printing, sheeting and anvil cylinders, the SmartGap adjustable anvil system, diecutting stations and pressure gauges,” says Gysbers.
Flexible dies also have the ability to handle a wide range of substrates. While it remains easiest to diecut paper facestocks, filmic materials, such as PE, PP, PT and MDO, can all be processed efficiently with the latest flexible die technology. The adhesive and liner can pose a challenge to converters, but Wink has designed its technology to handle these concerns.
“One of the major trends that affects diecutting is the increasing usage of very thin filmic liners, sometimes in combination with challenging filmic face materials,” notes Gysbers. “These thin liners are very demanding in terms of diecutting because they are not compressible like glassine liners, and therefore they are much more sensitive for die strikes. To achieve perfect diecutting results, all components need to be in a perfect and absolutely clean condition: the diecutting unit and its cylinders, and of course the cutting tool, as well. We use special engraving and hardening techniques for our SuperCut dies to guarantee minimum tolerances, and we recommend using our SmartGap adjustable anvil roller to gain full control of the cutting depth.”
To achieve the best diecutting results, converters also need high-quality magnetic cylinders. Wink has engineered its magnetic cylinders to serve as a complement to its SuperCut dies. They come with extra-strong adhesion, stainless steel and minimum tolerances. In addition, the bearer rings can be dismantled and reworked separately, making them very cost-effective.
“Especially when converting very thin liners, it is important to gain full control of the die strike by using an adjustable anvil system. Wink’s SmartGap system has been established as the leading adjustable system in the market. The cylinder gap (clearance) can be adapted very precisely to different liners and fluctuating liner thicknesses, so that even with demanding applications and very thin liners optimum diecutting results are achieved,” says Gysbers. “The operator can adapt the gap with the greatest accuracy individually for the drive and operator side. Because the cutting depth does not have to be regulated via the pretension, the service life of the tools is increased at the same time.”
Flexible dies will only rise in prevalence, especially as digital printing becomes more mainstream. Gysbers states that flexible dies are ideally suited to handle the short runs common with digital presses.
“We see a strong trend towards (short run) digital printing, and overall this affects our business positively, as every different job needs its own unique cutting tool,” he says. “The majority of digital labels comes with rather simple shapes, which enables us to produce and ship the required dies very quickly and cost-effective.”
The ongoing trend toward digitalization and automation has not eluded the diecutting process, either. Wink has developed a digitally controlled version of the SmartGap system. The “Touch” version offers multiple smart functions, which lead to a further increase in production efficiency. “The new technology allows for the most precise gap adjustment steps on the market,” adds Gysbers. “Upcoming feature packages will include job control functions, automatic control of the cutting depth/die strike, and full connectivity to machine control and customers’ software systems.”