Shorter job lengths and greater SKU diversity are reducing press uptime because of the time spent on job changeovers – a situation compounded by the lack of skilled operators who need more time to qualify a job. PSPs are also under pressure from brand owners and consumers to ensure that the full life cycle of their packages becomes more sustainable.
During a recent virtual.drupa presentation, Jordi Puig, Comexi’s brand manager and business developer of the Flexo Printing Business Unit, explained that GeniusTech is the company’s answer for improving the uptime of presses and the quality of jobs by adding automation, intelligence, efficiency and sustainability-improving features.
Jordi noted that more SKU diversity doesn’t necessarily mean jobs are 100% different from one to another, sometimes, only two or three plates change while the others remain the same, and the changeover time can be reduced with GeniusJob by preparing the free stations for the next plates while the machine is still in production. This can be combined with the GeniusFlow option to prepare and condition the inks for the next job (even if the anilox isn’t changed yet) and then the stop time is minimised further.
GeniusFlow is the system that manages the ink supply and cleans the ink chamber, the anilox, ink tanks and connection hoses in the circuit. ‘This compact inking and cleaning system is focused on minimising solvent consumption while enhancing cleaning results,’ he stated. ‘It is built into the press frame to ensure easy operator access during operation and maintenance tasks.’
GeniusFlow is available in multiple options to adapt to varying needs, including stainless steel execution for water-based or EB inks, ink cooling/heating with or without an integrated external chiller, plus clean and dirty solvent tanks that can be connected to an external distillation plant.
Automatic pressure and register setup
Jordi emphasised that the three automated pressure and register setup systems – GeniusPrint, GeniusDot and GeniusSet – are based on real impressions (not theoretical calculations) and enhanced through the use of Industry 4.0 solution-driven data to minimise overpressure and waste.
He described GeniusPrint as the best-in-class system because of its high precision adjusting pressure with a maximum overpressure of between 20 and 70µm and register precision, offering a deviation of <50µm.
This system automatically adjusts the register by comparing it with the digital file (PDF) used to create the plates and minimises waste to around 150m, depending on the repeat, number of colours and machine model. GeniusPrint also uses a 100% inspection camera from AVT to inspect each job and provide print quality assurance.
According to Jordi, the GeniusDot automatic pressure impression and register system provides the optimal balance between waste and quality. He explained that the adjustment is based on a 1.5mm dot that appears at the end as a black dot and noted that it helps decrease waste to an average of 120m, depending on the repeat and machine model.
GeniusDot uses a matrix camera from AVT, and the software can be upgraded easily to add statistic inspection and quality assurance.
The GeniusSet, on the other hand, is only for pressure adjustment and is designed to minimise waste to an average of 70m by detecting the kiss point between the substrate, plate or anilox.
It is complemented by the GeniusReg system, which enables the operator to manually locate a characteristic area of every colour at the same place on the video touchscreen (drag and drop). Average waste is around 30m because once operators have selected and zoomed in on the characteristic area, the process can be finished with the machine stopped.
The highest printing quality requires a robust and stable press plus the latest in material and software tool developments. GeniusTech helps converters overcome the main challenges related to flexo print quality: dot gain, bouncing effects and inter-colour registration.
Its first feature is called GeniusRun, a mechatronic combination of highly robust cast iron bearing supports with preloaded linear guides and ball screws, big diameter and robust air-mandrels with oversized bearings and intelligent software that ‘understands’ printing and adapts the response of the motors to the printing conditions.
Additionally, the combination of carbon fibre mandrels and hydraulically fixed intermediate sleeves maximise the rigidity of the elements that primarily absorb vibrations.
The second feature, known as GeniusDrive, combines Comexi’s patented Virtual Master and Direct Encoder technologies. The latter is fitted directly to the shaft rather than to the rear of the motor. ‘The combination allows us to offer the highest longitudinal register tolerance in the market, with a value as low as 25µm,’ Jordi asserted.
The final feature, called GeniusDoctoring, ensures more stable dot gain by enabling minimum pressure between the blades and anilox. It utilises 3D-verified doctor blades, a robust bar with a flat surface where the doctor blade stands, plus linear guides with low-friction pistons to keep the doctor blade in place during the forward-backwards movement with a minimum pressure, ensuring that the blade and the anilox move like a single component.
Connectivity and data management
When operators want to manage any data related to a job or press component, they work through the GeniusData system. This system functions as a database for the printing and anilox sleeves, plus current and historical job parameters. It also acts as a production control system for current and historical job data and automatically determines the press’s status, including job changes, adjustments or production times.
Additionally, Genius Data generates a detailed PDF report of a current job or from specified production dates.
Connectivity to Comexi Cloud and converters’ ERP systems enables data values to be extracted and shared with management teams. GeniusData can be complemented with GeniusInk or GeniusEnergy to monitor the machine’s consumption levels.
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