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Trade Comment

Efficient Technology for Printers

With pressure on printers to be efficient and turnaround times as tight as ever, Brendan Perring asks: “How vital is web-cleaning, cooling, static control, and air supply technology?”

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Iain Cameron, marketing director, Meech

Cutting costs

With turnaround times tightening, printers are finding themselves under more pressure to increase production speeds, but without compromising on end product quality. That is where ancillary technologies have a key role to play. Systems such as web cleaners and static control products are essential in ensuring print quality is maintained, and it is important to keep these devices working effectively to allow for maximum production efficiency.

Meech’s contact roll-on-roll web cleaner, the Tak Clean TM, features specially formulated Trans Tak elastomer contact cleaning rollers and perforated adhesive rolls, which make it ideal for narrower and slower presses. The Tak Clean’s adhesive surfaces should be replaced at the manufacturer recommended rate—any more frequent than this could lead to unnecessary expense, but any less frequent will make the surfaces less adhesive and, more crucially, less capable of removing contamination from the web.

Systems such as web cleaners and static control products are essential in ensuring print quality is maintained

Meech’s non-contact web cleaner, the Cy Clean TM, represents a longer-term, more cost-effective environmental solution for commercial printers and is capable of removing contamination at below 0.5 micron, whilst handling virtually any substrate. This means that, with the increase in production speeds and new inkjet printable webs becoming increasingly more available, the system is well equipped for handling future print demands and requirements.

While web cleaners are effective for guaranteeing product cleanliness, ionising bars ensure contaminants are not attracted to the web’s surface by eliminating static charges. Meech’s Hyperion range—comprising the 924IPS, 929IPS, and 971IPS pulsed DC ionising bars—is compatible with most digital printing lines and is designed to remove static even from webs moving at high speeds.

All under control

Peter Benton, managing director, Technotrans Graphics

Temperature control is about keeping the press or parts of the press at a predetermined and constant temperature. Controlling the temperature of the dampening solution or ink rollers means the printer can apply the dampening solution or inks with confidence that the flow or tack will be correct and predictable. That means better quality results, less errors, and therefore less waste sheets and higher productivity. It is a benefit that is widely used in both litho and digital printing applications.

By eliminating variables, printers can achieve predictable colour and quality, and temperature is an impact that can easily, and at relatively little expense, be controlled.
Water-cooled peripherals refer to the temperature control of the press as a whole, using water rather than cool air to remove the heat generated by the highly productive presses used today. There are an increasing number of companies using this technology today and finding that paper and operators perform better in a controlled environment. Printers welcome the reduced maintenance, stable productivity, and stable press humidity.

There are an increasing number of companies using this technology today and finding that paper and operators perform better in a controlled environment

It is also an environmentally sound system, because water is four times more efficient at removing heat than air and also because the waste heat can be piped away from the pressroom to other parts of the plant for heating in colder months. Air systems can increase the presence of paper dust and powder in the pressroom, and can create higher alcohol and VOC evaporation rates. Water-cooled systems use sealed pipe systems, so a glycol water mixture is cooled and recirculated.

The configuration—the combination of pump and regulation cabinet, free cooler, evaporation chilling tower, or compressor water refrigerator—will depend on the size and productivity of the press. Technotrans is happy to provide consultation to help printers make the right choices when it comes to temperature control and humidification systems as well as other press peripheral kit.

Reliable operation

Graham Moorby, joint managing director, Printers Superstore

Through our company Vac Air Superstore, we operate extensively within the printing industry. We are experts in air technology, offering new units, parts, and servicing for a wide range of market leading manufacturers such as Becker, Busch, Rietschle, and Gardner Denver, and we are UK agents for DVP.

All litho presses require vacuum, high and low pressure compressed air. The units supply blow for sheet separation, for vacuum belts on feed boards, some transfer drums, spray units, air breaks in deliveries, and sheets are even delivered on beds of air to avoid set off and marking.

Pneumatically controlled machines rely on compressed air for their operation, and an adequate supply of air for various processes is essential to maintain good sheet handling and optimise production speeds.

Our Shinohara and Hans Gronhi presses have de-humidifiers installed to cope with condensate that can build up when using compressed air, to ensure that there is no condensation in air lines of the machines to enable long life and trouble-free operation.

The big trend in recent years has been towards maintenance-free operation with dry running rotary vane units replacing the old oil lubricated pumps of yesteryear. Quiet and maintenance-free units can sit in a cabinet or under running boards, efficiently supplying air on demand.

The big trend in recent years has been towards maintenance-free operation

The latest innovations are with contactless or claw units, which have no sliding vanes or with an inverter driven unit so power to the pumps can be efficiently worked in synergy with the speed of the press. Motors also now have an EXII motor efficiency rating and have thermal cut outs for extra protection.

Over the years we have seen innovations like Venturi units—small units that create a vacuum by compressed air being blasted through them. These are being retrofitted to machines. In our experience, however, these are inefficient as they require huge volumes of compressed air to drive them. 75KW compressors can be required, which are costly.

New direct drive units with all the efficiency built in are the cost-effective option for the modern printer. Air is something that can easily be forgotten about by the busy printer, but it is something that is critical to the whole printing process. When the air stops so does production, so it is important to have the right equipment and to maintain it. Repair bills and down time can be expensive and very inconvenient.

Stopping static

Richard Mawson, managing director, Cyan X

Static is an invisible problem with some very visible effects on print quality and sheet travel. Most commonly it leads to dust attraction and static cling between sheets, which means doubles and misfeeds. Powder usage is increased and made harder to handle as the charge causes particles to attract and ‘clump’. In more extreme cases, defects can occur including surface damage to coatings, and operators can experience static shocks.

Static can also affect platemaking, as dust can be attracted to the plate surface. To master static in the print room, Cyan X supply a range of products from Ionix and Stop Static.

Ionix products are suitable for all printing equipment using forced air. For offset presses, this typically means the feeder, delivery, and powder spray unit. Many finishing applications also benefit from Ionix systems including folders, binders, die-cutters, and laminators.

Ionix static eliminators improve upon old fashioned electronic ionisers by supplying ionised air to neutralise the opposing charges causing the static charge. They require no maintenance and are easy to install.

Static is an invisible problem with some very visible effects on print quality and sheet travel

Cyan X are agents for Stop Static, which has a range of highly innovative products including Static String, Static Elastic, and 360 Ion Rods, which cover a broad range of applications from sheet-fed, flexible packaging, converting, coating, laminating, plastics, and numerous reel-fed processes.

Stop Static’s Advanced Passive Static Eliminators (APSEs) have saved converters and printers millions by replacing crude copper tinsel products and brushes, usually in the form of rods or cords, which span the sheet or web width. Stop Static products have proven very popular and have rapidly become a best seller.

The latest addition to the growing Cyan X portfolio is X-Stat. Supplied as a trigger spray, this is an inexpensive and effective solution for long-term static control. The spray is water-based and once dry leaves an ultra-thin static-dissipative coating, which prevents the build up of static charges. X-Stat is recommended for use on any non-porous surface to help prevent charge generation and any other static related issue.

Cyan X is one of the UK’s foremost suppliers of humidification systems, including the top selling Iekuchi brand, which are used in many applications to eliminate static.

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