Stork Prints Celebrates 20 Years of Laser Engraving Technology
There is cause for much celebration at Stork Prints. The company’s direct laser engraving systems have officially reached the 20-year landmark. The very first laser engraving system, an STK LE2000 for screen-cylinder imaging, was installed this month in 1986 at the Lörrach plant of the German-Swiss textile manufacturing concern, KBC.
The technology marked a major technological breakthrough for the pre-production stages, and the rotary screen printing process—it meant an image could be applied to the screen without film, and chemicals, and in a much shorter time. The specification of this system may seem modest compared with the standards of the very latest high-powered laser engraving systems. With a top speed of 600 RPM, a typical screen would be engraved in about one-and-a-half hours, and the frequency was relatively limited compared with today because the whole laser system would switch on and off.
Daniel Schlenker, who was then the laser engraving operator at KBC—and still working with the company—recalls, “The installation of the LE 2000 was a world-wide sensation, and with good reason—it represented one of the most important advances in pre-production. In a short time, the engraver had completely transformed our workflow. It cut screen make-ready time by 50 percent, and allowed raster quality improvements, which in turn enabled us to offer more sophisticated designs to customers.”
The LE 2000 system provided more than 12 years of highly productive screen manufacturing at KBC. It imaged more than 70,000 screens and it is estimated as saving thousands of hours of labor in the process. The engraver is still in operation to this day. KBC transferred it from Germany to their Hungarian subsidiary, Maya Divatkelmenyomo Rt. Fashion Print, in September 1998; it has just been sold to the Kohma Textile in Ivanovo, Russia, where it will be installed at the end of October 2006. To this day, Stork Prints engraving systems and software remain at the heart of pre-production at KBC, which uses the bestLEN and MAX engraving systems for imaging rotary screens.