Established in 2004, this anilox roll manufacturer – based in Runcorn, Cheshire – started life in a small facility with some manufacturing processes being outsourced. However, subsequent growth allowed the company to bring more of its manufacturing operations in-house, followed by investment in additional laser engraving lines. In 2010, it moved to a 1 900m2 facility with provision for future expansion of its engineering department and offices, and now is about to commission its first plasma coating line.
Right from the start, it was clear in the minds of the company’s founders, John Millington and Nigel Hedges, that the way forward had to be game-changing technology. Higher press speeds and compatibility with the latest HD plates, together with optimised print quality and reduced inventories, were key R&D factors. By working closely with printers and ink manufacturers to beta test and resolve print quality issues, the result was a new concept in anilox engraving.
Sandon Global has since captured a major share of the UK market and won several industry awards for its products. The company is now casting an ambitious eye on South Africa’s wide- and narrow-web sectors with the appointment of Robert Blythin to drive sales and to support customers in the region.
‘Robert’s appointment is strategic to the future growth of our business in South Africa and the MEA markets,’ says John Millington. ‘His reputation, experience and technical capability demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting customers’ businesses and future needs. We have a reputation for high-quality products and service and this appointment will further improve and enhance our position in the field.’
Different engraving styles for different markets
Along with a high level of technical capability and customer support, Sandon has developed engraving styles that are directly aimed at specific market sectors.
Sandon Global invented and developed its HOW (high opacity white) and HOC (high opacity colour) engravings for the narrow-web market. Following the success of these technologies, the innovation programme continued with the development of HVP (high volume process) engravings. HVP is now recognised as the anilox that has driven the quality of wide-web flexo printing ever higher, allowing many converters to become award-winners in print production quality. With advancements in digital plate technology and improved ink systems, printers using HVP are enjoying the benefits of enhanced efficiency and productivity, together with better image definition and print consistency.
Process print has been the leading factor towards higher quality with the ultimate aim of achieving consistent gravure-standard printing. As plate resolution became finer and optimised with the introduction of HD plate technology, anilox specifications increased accordingly. While test environment process print can be of the highest quality, the reality of production conditions can be those of ink starvation, plugging and accelerated anilox wear. A common solution on conventional 60-degree engravings is to increase anilox volume and to polish the cell walls to an almost pre-worn state. This inevitably leads to incorrect engraving ratios that create plugging, dirty print and anilox scoring. Sandon Global has addressed these issues with the launch of its latest anilox engraving, i-Pro.
i-Pro engraving was developed to match press speeds up to 800m/min and assist in alleviating ink starvation, particularly when chambered doctor blade systems are used. The i-Pro engraving with its triaxial ratios also facilitates higher release, allowing strong process colour on screens up to 480I/cm for flexible packaging. This technology features an innovative cell structure combined with a modified/improved cell angle profile that provides a consistent and improved ink lay. The modified cell angle allows printers to work with an enhanced colour gamut without discernible loss of colour density and without the anilox angle creating screen clash with the printing plate. A further benefit is enhanced durability without the need to pre-wear the engraving, giving consistent results throughout the life of the anilox and an easily-cleaned surface using simple chemicals.