Two days dedicated to gravure customers, who have had the opportunity to visit Uteco headquarters and especially to be able to attend the press demo of the last jewel of Verona manufacturer, the Next 450, presented for the first time in late 2015, and now improved with the latest technological innovations
Uteco has a long experience in the field of gravure printing machines, with the first of more than 700 units installed around the world presented in 1992. Over the years, while focusing on the core business of flexographic machines, Uteco has always developed novelties also for gravure and with the presentation of the Next 450 in 2015, stressed the importance that this sector will have for their future business growth.
“There are 10 Next 450 sold in just over a year, and this model will be the base on which all new machines will be built”, says Andrea Caselli, Southern Europe Sales Manager & Product Marketing Coordinator at Uteco “in mid-2017 it will be presented the NXS 300, a gravure press for short runs, from 600 to 1000 mm web width and top speed of 300 m/min, followed in 2018 by another model that will complete the range. Our goal is to reach by 2020 a production capacity of 20-25 rotogravure machines a year”.
Uteco investments plan, just to accompany adequately the growth of the gravure sector, foresees to build a new plant, also in Verona.
The machine in detail: total control for the highest quality
The Next 450 is the first gravure machine where Uteco has applied the concept of “total quality system”, developed by an internal team of engineers, which foresees more than 500 quality checks, selected and certified suppliers, and each piece that makes up the machine is traced.
“We invest 5-7% of our turnover in R&D for developing new products, and the feedback received from customers helps us to improve our existing products on the market, upgrading the machines even after some years from installation if necessary”, says Alessandro Bicego, new gravure division manager at Uteco.
The Next 450 used in the print demo in the Uteco Converdrome, the area dedicated to reception of its customers and testing on the machines, was configured with a double drying hood on element n. 1 and 9 and individual hoods on all other and a double extended hood for cold-seal on the last unit. All single hoods have size of 2.4 meters, and the last one is 3.2 meters. For ventilation group Uteco has worked with an expert partner in air dynamic that works with major automobile groups, by providing a team of 20 engineers, who have created a special patented system, silent, energy-saving, to ensure the maximum drying performance of the film.
Available in three web widths of 1050,1350,1550 mm to release a printing pace from 450 to 920 mm, Uteco Next 450 in standard configuration has a top speed of 450 m/min, with gas, oil or electric drying. The printing unit has been configured with a new design to facilitate operator intervention in maximum safety with direct motors connected to the print cylinder, with the possibility of having both the mechanical or pneumatic shaft for the automatic closing of the cylinder, or shaftless version without shaft with the insertion of hollow cylinder directly into the machine. “Printing cylinders have been the subject of a thorough study, because even if size is equal, can be present variations in the thickness, affecting the final weight of the cylinder. With the support of the University of Padua, we have developed a software that calculates at every start of the cylinder a dynamic calibration to get the best performance throughout the print run”, adds Bicego.
The sleeves are easy to access for the operator, who in less than one minute can make the change, without any kind of effort. As regards the carriage, the operator, when positioned it in the predetermined point, will not do anything, because an automated system will provide for insertion into the machine, with a slight lifting from the floor, to ensure a better inking and tolerances of a few tenths of a millimeter between the various elements that make up the inking unit. The operator will only attach the various pipes for the ink passage.
Uteco also foresaw an “Extra” carriage for removing the printing cylinder from the machine during the job change, which allows to reduce the time to set-up (28 minutes for a change from 8 colors job to the next 8 colors job).
Another technical detail on which Uteco has focused in the development of the inking unit to improve the print quality is represented by the bars with new geometry to improve the dynamics of the inking flows. Uteco has also developed a specific software for the analysis of the inking system and the simulation of the behavior of ink in different formats and with different viscosity and doctor blades, to know exactly how the ink behaves before going to print, with a confidence level of 100%.
The line is equipped with a system of pre-automatic washing divided into three phases: only the cylinder, the cylinder, the pump and the wash basin and the complete cycle of all the components of the inking unit.
The Next 450, as well as all printing machines built by Uteco, is managed from a single point of control, from which are managed the parameters of all auxiliary components installed on the production line, which are however also be managed individually on the machine and always in communication with the central control panel that keeps track of every change.
“Control is fundamental to the management of the machine in order to ensure quality and repeatability, but now it is increasingly important the analysis of post-production data to really understand the performance and consequently the efficiency in production, but also consumption of the machine and the possibility to handle a job with total control even on cost”, adds Bicego presenting the program “Uteco Data Acquisition & Analysis”, with an industrial view that is more and more 4.0.
“We are globally recognized leaders in flexo industry, at such an extent that in terms of number of machines built we are at the same level of our German reference competitors”, says Peretti, managing director at Uteco. “But we have also an important story in gravure; so, driven by the demands of our customers, we decided to invest a lot in this sector, with a complete range for all needs. Since we are global players, we are working on all fronts, including digital printing, along with major multinational brands”, says Peretti.