EARLIER this month, Rotocon installed the latest generation RDF 330 digital printed label converting and finishing machine at Impress Print Services. It features a semi and full-rotary flexo printing unit, an automatic sheer knife slitting system, a high-speed matrix stripping system, dual-turret slitter rewinder, Corona treater, UV LED curing system, cold foil and spot colour module, and die-cutting station that can be used in semi-rotary mode.
The 2020 model, as part of Rotocon’s broader Ecoline machine range, has been upgraded according to customers’ feedback. It uses the latest servo motor and software enhancements available. Service manager and lead engineer, William White, spent time with the machinebuilding team at Rotocon’s dedicated factory in Asia and came up with a series of improvements. These included modifying the shape of the machines by rounding off any sharp edges and introducing a sleek, modern colour palette of grey and red (changed from white and red) to give them a visual facelift.
The RDF 330’s first major upgrade is an automatic sheer knife slitting system that simplifies the normally timeconsuming set-up and tweaking required when manually adjusting blades across more than three lanes. The operator can now enter the label sizes, gap sizes, and the number of slits then the system will automatically bring all the blades into the right position with the correct gaps.
The second upgrade, which has been in big demand from customers requesting a more affordable and efficient format, is a high-speed matrix stripping system. It ensures no web in between the stripping shaft and matrix, preventing waste breakage and machine downtime. Additionally, a servo-driven motor enables ideal stripping tension, even in the presence of matrix coil diameter variations. This avoids any issues caused by special substrates or die-cutting complex label shapes.
The third upgrade is a dual-turret slitter rewinder. It has two spindles that will save converters time by allowing them to finish a roll of labels directly on the RDF 330 in one pass versus two passes as was done on the previous RDF model and a separate rewinder. This is especially useful for short-run work of 1 000 to 2 000 labels specified per roll in a run of 10 000, for example. The operator can begin running the machine after preparing cores on both spindles. Once the first spindle has accumulated the specified number of labels, the semi-automatic turret system sets up the second set of cores so that the operator can release the first set of labels into a box. The operator can then glue the beginning of the next set onto the second set of cores, start the machine again, let it accumulate the next batch of labels, and place a new core in the available slot. They repeat this process until the final label count is reached.
Another important upgrade is the inclusion of the easy-to-operate Ecoline branded UV LED curing system. It facilitates significantly lower operating costs thanks to energy savings, fewer consumable parts, and lower maintenance costs. Additionally, the UV LEDs’ instant on/off capability means no more waiting to restart the machine after a power outage. Faster changeovers via flexible controls and curing adjustments are also possible – contributing to improved uptime and higher production rates.
The Rotocon Ecoline RDF 330 digital printed label converting and finishing system takes pride of place alongside a digital press in Impress Print Services new digital label converting and finishing division. Commemorating the successful commissioning are Rotocon’s Durban branch manager, Akhmuth Sayed; Impress Print Services’ project manager, Mahomed Sulaman and co-directors, Suhail and Ziyad Agjee; plus Rotocon technicians, Oscar Mashele and Shaun Scott.
Finishing support for self-adhesive labels
‘Durban-based Impress Print Services ordered an upgraded RDF 330 model at the end of December 2019 because of increasing demand from its existing customer base for high-quality, short-run roll label printing and flexible packaging for various SKU’s’. The advent of international Covid-19 lockdowns and subsequent delays in terms of manufacturing and shipping have, however, extended the anticipated project timeframe,’ comments co-director, Suhail Agjee. ‘Our strategy for the past 35 years has been to invest in the latest technology, our team, and processes to ensure our service to customers is consistent, reliable and professional. It has made us their trusted partner in litho, web offset, signage, packaging, and digital print. And next is short-run labels and flexible packaging production.’
Suhail explains that Impress Print Services conducted a thorough investigation into offline finishing machines for digitally-printed labelling to complement its press’ capabilities. ‘We contacted Rotocon because of its wellestablished installation base in the local market, the company’s reputation for balancing value-for-money machine reliability and quality with a Durban-based service team of two technicians,’ he states. ‘We started negotiations and soon realised that the team could meet our requirements, including matching the specifications and pricing of a semi-rotary print station (and including it in the RDF 330 design for the first time) to help us save on printing plate costs.’
What type of assistance did Impress Print Services require because of its lack of experience with finishing self-adhesive labels and automatic sheer knife slitting systems?
Rotocon director, Pascal Aengenvoort, explains that technician, Francois de Beer (who used to be a press operator), spent a week doing the technical set-up, putting everything in register, and performing the parameter and registration checks. He also took the directors through a detailed run down and set-up of each system feature before running a live job. This job entailed printing the Rotocon logo on the label, foiling it in perfect register, and then diecutting it. The machine can foil up to 24 000 labels an hour (depending on label layout) and features a servo-driven foil-saving mechanism.
The directors were impressed and signed the job off on the day of commissioning. ‘It opened our eyes to other flexographic printing capabilities and the ability to take on less intricate, single and two-colour flexible packaging runs,’ Suhail remarks. ‘The technicians responsible for machine assembly, commissioning, and demonstrations did an outstanding job.’
Rotocon’s technicians will return in July to train other employees of Impress Print Services, who are being reallocated to the digital label converting and finishing department. The training will give these employees an opportunity to upskill on this new technology. Rotocon is confident that the highly-intuitive operating system will make it simple for the operators to learn the technology within a few days. The technicians will, however, continue providing support over the next few months to ensure success in operating the redesigned RDF 330.