Extra! Extra! Extra!
Thanks to servo and sleeves, today's wide-web presses are a far cry from similar technology produced only a few years ago.
THE LAST FIVE years have seen significant innovation in technologies in nearly every arena.
The first commercially-available hybrid car was introduced in North America. DVD players were given the capability to record. A camera was added to cell phones—anything and everything that could in some way give consumers extra benefits and capabilities has become the goal of R&D departments, and not just in the car and electronics industries.
Wide-web presses have also undergone advances. The shift in technology incorporated in wide-web presses over the last half-decade has been nothing less than "dramatic," said Hans Deamer, president, Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp.
A move to gearless engineering and advances in sleeve technology are two of the biggest changes in wide-web presses that are helping printers stay competitive. But a change in the design of both flexo and gravure presses has opened up press engineering to the imaginations of the designer, said Kurt Flathmann, vice president/sales manager, Fischer & Krecke.
"Tremendous advances have taken place in the last five years relating to press technology," he said. "Advances in AC servo drive technology—combined with advances in sleeve technology and lightweight, rigid materials such as carbon fiber—have combined to enable the traditional central impression press to take a leap forward in evolution. These advances enabled press manufacturers to start their press design with a clean sheet of paper, no longer bound to previous designs, but limited only by their level of innovation and far-sightedness."
Gearless innovations have aided both gravure and flexo wide-web printers in achieving quality that was impossible with previous press technology. Printers, like their customers, want better repeatability, reliability, and consistency in their end results, and wide-web press manufacturers have delivered with servo technology, said Tom Jacques, marketing manager, Paper Converting Machine Co.