As Wink’s sales manager (Asia Pacific & Africa), Ludger was accompanied on this journey by Rotocon’s sales director, Patrick Aengenvoort, in Johannesburg; by Rotocon branch manager, Akhmuth Sayed, in Durban; and by Rotocon director, Pascal Aengenvoort, in Cape Town.
Lest the company name Wink should be confused with facial contortions (wink, wink!), its full title is Wink Stanzwerkzeuge – a German manufacturer of cutting tools for the graphic arts industry. The products referred to by Ludger are Wink’s line of flexible dies – of which South African sales have doubled in the past year – and Wink’s GapControl adjustable anvil cylinders, four of which have been sold locally since Rotocon started marketing these units a few months ago.
‘The South African market is an important part of our global growth strategy,’ Ludger notes. ‘And with Rotocon, we’ve found a reliable and proactive partner, supporting us on our path to success. The Rotocon team has the crucial technical skills and market insights we require. In addition, Rotocon shares our customer-focused philosophy – to offer the best products and the best service.’
Ludger goes on to emphasise his company’s ongoing expansion of production capacity and continuous investments aimed at meeting rising global demand. Just one example is the recent acquisition of FST (which stands for Form- und Stanztechnik) that’s set to further strengthen Wink’s market position.
Established in 1988, FST is an internationally-renowned specialist in die-cutting technology, manufacturing a broad range of solid rotary dies, magnetic cylinders, hot-stamping cylinders and die-cutting stations.
With this acquisition, Wink is now concentrating all cylinder production at FST’s site, creating a ‘Centre of Excellence’. The takeover also brings a host of benefits to customers, as they’ll be able to enjoy access to an even wider range of products from a single source. In addition, capacity expansion and more efficient processes will result in faster lead times.
New coating technologies
Die-cutting labels is a demanding process, with several factors influencing the choice of tooling. While most applications can be run with a standard, uncoated flexible die, some need a special hardening to guarantee efficient processing.
Wink’s SuperCut flexible dies – available with several finishes and coatings to maximise die-cutting efficiency – significantly exceed standard requirements, with tolerances of only 2µm.
But the company moved another step forward with the launch of MCR (MicroChrome) coated dies. ‘This coating considerably extends the lifetime of dies,’ Ludger explains. ‘Several customers are now using them in South Africa, and are happy with results.’
For processing long runs of abrasive materials and inks (for instance, thermal paper, opaque white), the MCR coating combined with laser hardening offers considerably prolonged life. As the coating protects cutting edges from wear, it does not impair tolerances, flexibility and magnetic adhesion.
‘We also offer non-stick coatings,’ Ludger continues. ‘These help to combat ink and adhesive residues. By minimising these residues on the cutting edges and on the surface of the die, undisturbed production is ensured.’
Wink becomes a local benchmark
According to Pascal Aengenvoort, Wink’s flexible dies are fast becoming a benchmark in terms of quality and delivery times; and this statement is endorsed by a number of local printers, for instance Andrew Mantell at HP Labelling, who, with Pascal Aengenvoort, recently visited Wink’s headquarters in Neuenhaus, set amid German farmlands, close to the Dutch boarder. Here they were entertained by Ludger Bastubbe and particularly enjoyed a tour of the impressive factory, where many hundreds flexible dies are produced daily.
‘They’re able to manufacture and ship dies to South Africa within 48 hours,’ reports an awestruck Andrew.
‘We have been using Wink flexible dies on a small scale, but are now starting to move over to flexible dies. In fact, we’ve recently ordered a number of magnetic cylinders to accommodate growing use of flexible dies; and when our new digital finishing press arrives next month, we’ll be using magnetic dies,’ he adds.
‘For the future, we’ll concentrate on flexible dies for quick turnaround times, favourable pricing and good quality. Our rotary dies have to be constantly resharpened but flexible dies are more durable. So far we haven’t had to replace any.’
Andrew is in very much in favour of using Wink as a supplier and happy to endorse Wink’s products. ‘What’s particularly pleasing about Wink is the attitude that “the customer is king”. No matter what size your company, you’re important to Wink,’ Andrew notes.
Another happy customer is Henk Crous of Sign & Seal. ‘We have converted completely and are now only using Wink flexible dies – with huge benefits!’ he declares.
Echoing these sentiments is Uwe Bögl, MD of RakoTamperseal.
‘We’ve moved entirely from rotary dies to flexible dies for our Gallus ECS 340, our Nilpeter F280 press and our ABG Digicon and Rotoflex VLI converting machines,’ Uwe confirms. ‘With this move, our business has become more time and cost efficient, and cutting results are excellent and consistent.’
He goes on to remark that Wink is now his company’s sole supplier and that he’s completely satisfied with the quality of the flexible dies and Rotocon’s reliable service.
And talking of service, last word goes to Michael Aengenvoort, who points out that in each market – Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town – Rotocon supports a branch office and service centre. ‘We offer direct regional service to customers,’ says Michael. ‘At each depot we have two Rotocon delivery vehicles to handle the logistics of transferring Wink’s flexible dies under our control from the airport directly to the customer’s press.’