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Inline Flexographic Print - Rockwell Automation · PDF file Flexographic printing offers numerous advantages. First the plates are inexpensive to make and are disposable, accommodating

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  • Inline Flexographic Print Kinetix Integrated Motion in the Flexography Printing Industry.

    Picture in courtesy from Cambridge Ltd

    This paper provides an in-depth look at the machinery requirements of the inline flexography printing industry. It illustrates how kinetic integrated motion is helping to meet the increasingly strict performance, accuracy and efficiency demands of these challenging applications.

  • 2 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Table of Contents

    Executive Summary ......................................................................................................... 3

    Introduction .................................................................................................................... 4-6

    Challenges ....................................................................................................................... 7

    Solutions & Benefits ..................................................................................................... 8-14

    Conclusions ..................................................................................................................... 15

    Resources ...................................................................................................................... 16

  • 3 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Executive Summary As a machine builder, you are challenged to differentiate yourself amidst global competition and rapidly evolving technology. Flexographic printing machines need to combine high production output, reliable, consistent product quality with low manpower requirements and low maintenance costs. The machines also need to be flexible enough to adapt to different printing materials at varying production speeds under changeable environmental conditions.

    Whether measured from a business, commercial or technical perspective, Rockwell Automation can help improve your printing machine performance with solutions and services to lower the Total Cost to Design, Develop and Deliver™ machines and meet your customers’ requirement. At Rockwell Automation, we strive for a holistic approach that focuses on your machine and business performance. What may start out as an “order-by-order” relationship, can eventually develop into a mutually beneficial business relationship. Rockwell Automation will work with you to develop solutions that will help give you a competitive advantage throughout your machine’s life cycle.

    Lower your Total

    Cost to Design, Develop and

    Deliver® Flexographic printing

    equipment with a Rockwell

    Automation Integrated

    Architecture® Solution.

  • 4 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Introduction

    The vast, ever-growing demand for commercial and industrial packaging and labeling products has created an enormous business opportunity for machine builders worldwide. Whether it’s a hologram security seal on your recent software purchase, the label on the overnight package that arrived at your door, or the shrink-wrapped sleeve on your favorite soft drink bottle, virtually every product we come in contact with has part of its identity tied to the packaging container or an applied label. The global markets for package printing – only involving pliant materials such as foils, films, paper or flexible sheeting to form a container – grew at a 4.4% rate to $75.4M in 2014. Add to that the expected 30% growth to $98.1M in 2015, and it is easy to see why machinery builders are demanding innovative automation and control solutions capable of meeting their customers’ precise performance, accuracy and time-to-market requirements.

    At Label Expo, a major North American tradeshow for the printing industry, the ability to leverage the

    power of automation was highlighted as one of the fundamental skills needed to achieve higher

    productivity, better yields, reduced changeover time, reduced waste, and greater flexibility –

    objectives that are made all the more challenging with today’s continuously changing substrate

    materials.

  • 5 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Introduction Flexography, or flexo, gets its name from the requirement that the printing plate surface maintain contact with the web (paper, nonwovens or film), which it does by being flexible. The method is commonly used on flexible packaging, cartons, shopping bags, food and hygiene bags, self- adhesive labels and wallpaper. The process of one color flexographic printing is demonstrated in the picture below. The plate is first affixed to the plate cylinder and then slated into the registration position. The ink is pulled from the well and transferred to the flexible plate by the Anilox roll. Since the web is pressed between the plate roll and the impression cylinder, the ink image will be transferred to the web. This is how the flexographic printing processed the image of the web created.

    A multi-station flexographic printing press is designed to precisely apply water-based or ultraviolet

    (UV) ink droplets from an anilox roll to a plate roll containing the image. The image is then

    transported to the substrate via contact with the impression roll. The ability to apply a dot of ink

    precisely onto another dot of ink is what defines color print registration and determines whether

    something is in focus to the human eye. It’s an important measure of quality on the finished film,

    paper or carton.

  • 6 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Flexographic printing offers numerous advantages. First the plates are inexpensive to make and are disposable, accommodating the frequent end-user changes common with packaging printing. Second, plates are mounted easily on the machine. Third flexo printing produces quality images. On the contrary, flexographic printing does offer challenges. Nip pressure can distort the flexible plate material affecting the image quality. Pressure control is very important. Even with good control, plate material wears faster than with other technologies. A typical multi-station flexographic printing press consists of the following sections: • Dual Tension Unwind keeps the web under precise tension control and velocity regulation

    through the infeed pacing section of the press. • Infeed transports the web and isolates the tension before presenting the web to the first print

    deck. • Print Deck, the first print deck station applies a printed registration bar to the web as well as

    the first color. Subsequent print decks individually apply colors one at a time using the printed registration bar for guidance.

    • Outfeed, this section follows the last print deck and isolates the web once again with precise

    tension control and velocity regulation. • Converting sections, these modules for die-cutting, punching, embossing, trimming or slitting

    the web prior to rewinding the product are common post-processing operations.

  • 7 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Challenges Increasing competitiveness and market pressures are causing converters to demand more flexibility, higher productivity, better yields and less waste from their converting machinery investments. This is a challenge, as press machine builders are already approaching 750 to 1,200 feet/min (229 to 365 m/min) web speeds and maintaining +/- 0.002 to 0.005 inch (.05 to .13 mm) print registration tolerances. They’re also keeping scrap to the length of the full press plus one print deck during machine make-ready. Web throughput will continue to increase as new drying system technologies are designed.

    To meet changing styles and packaging requirements, end users are seeking machines with interchangeable sections and variable-size print roll sleeves. Since flexible packaging and label print images, unlike newspapers or magazines, vary widely in size, as well as in substrate and material requirements, the ability to quickly change machine sections or roll size is critical. OEMs must meet additional end user requirements such as: • Compensation for gear-marking generated by the machine’s mechanics. • Eliminating pull-out, as print registration must be held during speed changes of the web. • Registry with and without electronic registration correction (ERC). • Re-registration of a pre-printed web for insetting and additional color application. • Compensation for printing long and short due to web variation. • Constant sampling and trending of the error in the web for ongoing correction. • Web guide for cross register control in certain applications. Combine these challenges with changing substrates, inks and drying systems and one begins to fully understand the demands of printing for the packaging and label printing industry. The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® provides a proven solution to meet the challenging demands of the packaging and narrow

  • 8 | Inline Flexo Printing

    Solutions & Benefits The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture provides a proven solution to meet the challenging demands of the packaging and web label printing industry. Kinetix® Integrated Motion leverages the Logix Control Platform to seamlessly integrate with Allen-Bradley® Logix family controllers, servo drives, servo motors and actuators. Kinetix reduces programming time, improves information flow between components, and brings flexibility to machine design and e