Wednesday, 23 September 2020 08:45

How to integrate an automatic flexo printing machine with other systems

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Having an automatic flexo printing machine on your production line is a significant step towards obtaining a superior quality product with the highest possible efficiency. In addition, we have the possibility to integrate this printing machine with other systems such as a slitter rewinder or, in case there is a need to laminate the printed product, with a lamination line.

To start, let’s take the first case, that is integrating a slitter-rewinder with the flexo printing machine, and let’s take a look at the resulting benefits.

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1. Increased efficiency

In a non-integrated line, if we need to slit a reel coming out of a flexo printing machine in a certain number of smaller reels, it must be unloaded, transported and subsequently loaded on the off-line slitter rewinder. This, as you can imagine, is a labor-intensive and inefficient process.

If you proceed to integrate the slitter-rewinder with your flexo printing machine, you will completely avoid the aforementioned passages. The substrate will pass from the unwinder through the printing machine and finally to the in-line slitting rewinder without the need to unload, transport and load the semi-finished product between two off-line machines. This will ultimately make the entire process quicker and more efficient.

2. Increased quality

One of the most important advantages of an automated and integrated system is the ability of the single parts to work in a unified way. In our case, for example, a system of this kind can ensure that each of the machines that are part of the line provides the correct tensioning for the specific substrate to be processed. 

This is achieved by analyzing the data of these machinery and balancing the speed and tension of the web across the entire production line, ensuring that the final product is obtained in the shortest amount of time and without any defects due to poor tension management. 

3. Reduced material waste

By integrating the slitter rewinder with the printing machine, in addition to making the process more efficient, you will also reduce the waste of material. That is because, if the reel needs to be transferred from the printing machine to the off-line slitter rewinder, operations will be necessary for the accurate positioning of the slitting units which will result in a waste of several meters of material.

4. Increased safety

As we have seen, in an automated and integrated production system there is no longer a need for operators to manually transfer rolls or adjust alignment and other settings. It goes without saying that this will help reduce the safety risk for the operators involved.

5. Possibility of integrating an Automatic Packaging System

After slitting the printed roll into a variable number of small-format rolls, these will need to be transferred, sorted out into bundles, labelled, weighted and wrapped before they reach the warehouse or the vehicle that will transport them to the converting plant.

If the goal is to optimize the workflow by reducing the number of steps required, avoid the manual handling of the reels and the consequent human mistakes or avoid using a separate and dedicated packaging line, you have the possibility to integrate an automatic packaging system in the production line.

Integration with the lamination line

If your need is to laminate a printed product, you should consider integrating the flexographic printer with the lamination line in order to achieve a better repeat lenght control and, consequently, a superior quality product.

In this case, the printing machine will become a part of the lamination line and it will be located between the unwinder and the lamination section itself. The substrate will then be unwound by using the unwinder of the lamination line, printed, laminated and, finally, cut and wound with the in-line slitting winder. 

By doing this, you will have the possibility to:

  • Manage the repeat length directly on the finished product right after the printing process
  • Laminate with tighter tolerances than you would have to work with in the case of laminating a roll that has already been printed.

In addition, you will avoid the use of an unwinder and a rewinder before and after the printing machine and the consequent transportation of reels between two off-line machines.

Continuous improvement

Finally, when automated machines are integrated into a single system, you will be able to receive real-time data from each machine to a single dashboard. This brings multiple data points from the various parts of the production line together to be analyzed in relation to one another.

The result of this is the possibility to identify areas of potential improvement on the production line itself: it will be possible, for example, to see how the various parts contribute to the final result and, consequently, to adjust their settings to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the process as a whole.

Since printing is such a high-precision component of the production line, it is important to be able to analyze it in relation to other machines on the line to see how it can be adjusted to improve overall performance.

Ultimately, by integrating your automatic flexo printing machine into the production process in the ways we have just described, you will enjoy higher productivity and efficiency, lower costs and a better-quality product. 

If you would like to know more on the printing process of the hygiene products, you can read our free eBook "How to Optimize the Flexo Printing Process for the Hygiene Products"!

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