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Focus On

Ancillary Print Finishing

There is no point having the fastest printers if your array of finishing is not up to scratch. Jo Golding investigates the solutions playing an often unsung role in the print process

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Meech prides itself on its world-class manufacturing and engineering facilities, where it creates technology that give printers the incremental gains they need to remain competitive

Pay attention to detail

Ancillary is a word that describes the necessary support needed for a primary activity to work, and, after all, what are many activities without a little help? Take backing singers, supporting bands at gigs, or assistants. Without these roles, the main activity’s quality wavers significantly but with them, things tend to run smoothly.

The same theory can be applied to the print industry. You may be one of the companies lucky enough to have enough money left over in your budget to splurge on a big piece of kit, for example, a digital press, but the investment does not stop there. It is all very well fitting a new press into your existing production workflow, but if your existing equipment does not live up to its high standard, this could let the whole investment down.

This is why it is important to invest some research and money into the machines that support the larger pieces of equipment; they are usually the ones that are hard to fit into the main printer categories, for example, UV coaters, lifting equipment, and joggers. However, they all play their part in making your printed output the best it can possibly be and removing bottlenecks from your workflow. The reason this myriad of equipment is important to shine a spotlight on and think about is that the UK’s commercial print industry has never been more competitive.
And if over a year you can free up your workforce from laborious drudge tasks, reduce printing errors, and improve your turnaround times, then a proper audit of your workflow, and all the technology that underpins it, will have been worth it.

Static under control

Meech International has been manufacturing electrostatic controls and related systems since 1907, creating solutions for those in the printing, packaging, pharmaceutical, and food production sectors. Adam Battrick, sales director of Meech International, explains the problems that can occur when printing without the support of a static control system or a web cleaning system.

Battrick says: “The presence of static charges can result in a number of issues in the print and labelling market. Aside from attracting unwanted contamination to the surface of the web, it can cause ink not to adhere properly or it could even result in the ignition of solvent-based inks. For these reasons, an appropriate static control solution is required.

“The same goes for web cleaning. Let’s take inkjet as an example, which is evolving at a remarkable pace and its potential for increased speed and ever higher print quality is almost certain to continue. However, with greater speeds come more static charges on filmic materials, which in turn will attract a higher degree of contamination to the web’s surface. This means that product cleanliness will become an even bigger concern and thorough web cleaning solutions will be a necessity.”

So, to ensure that ink adheres properly to a substrate, a static control or web cleaning solution could be the right tool for the job.

“When it comes to web cleaning, we employ both contact and non-contact systems for digital presses,” explains Battrick, adding: “The TakClean features specially formulated TransTak elastomer contact cleaning rollers and perforated adhesive rolls, which make it ideal for narrower and slower presses.

The TakClean web cleaning solution is ideal for narrower and slower presses

“The CyClean instead, with an optimised cleaning efficiency that allows it to remove and extract contamination to below 0.5 micron, is perfect for the newer, high speed presses. CyClean can virtually handle any substrate, so with new inkjet printable webs becoming available, the system provides a future proof solution.”

Meech's CyClean removes contamination to below 0.5 microns

He also notes that Meech’s Hyperion range of ionising bars are ideal for static control, which are compatible with most digital print lines.

He continues: “The 971IPS and 929IPS anti-static bars were developed as a response to customer feedback and provide efficient ionisation from a 24V power supply. The most recent addition to the Hyperion series, the 924IPS is the first, purpose built, industrial 24V pulsed DC bar for short range applications. It works as a ready alternative to traditional AC bars.

“At 32mm high, the 924IPS is the most compact pulsed DC bar available on the market, making it suitable for installation in challenging positions that would normally require an AC bar. The system employs the same 4 pin M8 connector and shockless titanium emitter pins as other Hyperion bars.”

For static control, Meech has added a new ionising bar in its Hyperion series, the 924IPS

Having already pointed out some of the benefits of its technology, Battrick adds: “Commercial printers can benefit considerably from Meech’s web cleaning and static control technologies, as they play an important role in minimising wastage and achieve higher levels of productivity on printing applications. For these reasons, it is important for print businesses to capitalise on the strengths of these technologies that add significant value.”

It is important for print businesses to capitalise on the strengths of these technologies

Added value

Neil Elliott, marketing manager of Friedheim International, says ancillary print finishing will add value to the finished product. He says: “Such equipment is an essential ‘supplement’ in being able to provide faster and more efficient throughput, can be highly beneficial in terms of operator well-being and the number of staff required to ‘action’ a job, as well as producing ‘added value’ in terms of enhancements to the finished product.”

Friedheim has a range of equipment that will make the production process more efficient. Elliott explains: “Guillotines and cutters can work very well on their own but a ‘system’ approach when handling paper and other materials can be highly beneficial, both in terms of simplifying the process itself and for creating a better working environment for the operator.

“By combining a number of different and interchangeable items of ancillary equipment both Schneider Senator/Busch and Baumann Wohlenberg can offer this ‘system’ approach for their respective range of guillotines and high speed cutters.”

Friedheim supplies Busch joggers, which allow cutting to continue during material preparation, which then boosts the productivity of a cutter. They have an air removal roller with programmable pressure control to ensure perfect alignment and block forming of reams. Busch pile hoists aid gentler handling of materials when lifting or lowering them. Its sturdy platform has been designed for four different formats, and provides automated lifting and lowering, while a light sensor detects the top of the pile to prevent overloading. Busch re-stackers enable precise alignment when re-stacking paper without any manual intervention needed, for boosting day-to-day operations.

Friedheim International supplies Busch joggers, which boost the productivity of a cutter by allowing cutting to continue during material preparation

Another interesting piece of technology distributed by Friedheim is the Schneider Senator Roboload, a solution for loading joggers, featuring tried and tested robot technology. It is used to automatically upload sheets, and can also load two joggers at the same time.

Featuring robot technology, the Schneider Senator Roboload, supplied by Friedheim, can automatically upload sheets and load joggers

The Roboload begins the handling process by automatically detecting the position, height, and format of the paper. Next, the gripper separates the stack at one corner, grasps the ream diagonally, and picks it up from the pallet. Then the ream is aired out and transported to the jogger.

O Factoid: Joggers are a type of machine used to organise and stack printed sheets ready to be fed into other machines for processes such as binding, cutting, and printing. Most joggers vibrate thousands of times per minute, literally ‘jogging’ sheets into the right place. O

Friedheim also supplies a range of pile hoists, joggers, re-stackers, and pile turners from Baumann Wohlenberg. Pile turners can be a helpful time and cost saver as they eliminate the manual handling of paper and cardboard stacks, which can take its toll physically on machine operators.

Elliott provides further comment on Friedheim’s range of Palamides stacking and banding systems: “Palamides’ fully automatic and semi-automatic delivery systems for stacking and banding can be fitted in-line to a wide range of folding machines, gathering and stitching lines, and can considerably speed up throughput for greater cost efficiencies. The Alpha and Delta ranges include a number of different models for handling different types, sizes and speed of output to complement the machine they are attached to.”

The company also supplies MBO mobile stacker delivery systems—helping when frequent changeovers of production lines are required or the position of the delivery is changed—and knife folding units which allow a variety of different folds to be achieved. Also, from Atecmaa Packaging comes pallet wrapping machines operated by a control system integrated into the column.

Elliott adds: “Due to their modular design, Atecmaa stretch wrapping machines have the ability to be upgraded or re-composed via options to meet a user’s changing requirements. They are also capable of adapting to all types of stretch film, from 9 to 35 microns thick, and this is made possible by using simple stretching with regulation, by the speed of the turntable from 2 to 12rpm, and through electromagnetic braking via motorised pre-stretch pinions.”

Key machinery

Morgana is another name with a host of ancillary equipment to improve production. Ray Hillhouse, vice president sales and marketing at Morgana Systems, says: “At Morgana we have access to a wide range of products that are ancillary to our own manufactured devices, all aimed at providing a more complete service for our customers.

“Such products are important to the finishing operation as a whole, and so it makes sense for us to forge relationships with the suppliers of such equipment. Many of these suppliers can’t employ a full national sales force for their offerings and so rely on equipment suppliers such as Morgana to widen their distribution capabilities.

“For printers, these elements generally represent small but important investments. They would include items that they can’t do without for all or just some of their work, but they are critical to the overall finish of the job in question, so certainly cannot be ignored.”

Hillhouse says the most popular ancillary equipment they get orders for are paper guillotines, wire-o-binding equipment from Rhino-Tuff, paper drilling products, and numbering units.

A paper drill will speed up the production process, and the Citoborma 111 Electric Paper Punch is suitable for environments such as banks, local authority offices, and printers, punching stacks of paper up to 5cm thick.

The Citoborma 111 Electric Paper Punch may look like a humble piece of equipment, but relying on it to punch through paper stacks up to 5cm thick without trouble of fuss, year after year, makes it a gem

Freeing you from time spent on numbering on press, the FRN 5 Rotary Numbering Machine is ideal for the smaller commercial printer. It has a production speed of 5,100 impressions per hour and the rotary action numbers, perforates, scores, and slits without the sheet having to stop. The FSN Suction Fed Rotary Numbering Machine has a powerful suction feeder that will feed a wide range of paper weights.

The FRN 5 Rotary Numbering Machine from Morgana is designed to free the smaller printer up from time spent on numbering on press

In terms of joggers, the Morgana System 90 jogger is available in two sizes: A2 (700 x 520mm) and A3 (520 x 520mm). Its height can be adjusted and is compatible with other Morgana kit such as the AutoCreaser. The Uchida AJ-700 Air Jogger features air which, according to the company, “gives a quick and reliable knock up of the most uneven of paper stacks.”

Morgana’s range of shredders are ideal for environments that deal with confidential information, and range from 36 to 977kgs for different sized companies with differing amounts of production room. They have all been carefully designed with functions that will sort out paper jams, such as automatic reverse.

Another value adding piece of equipment that may be worth investing in is a UV coater. A layer of UV varnish is used regularly to enhance certain features on the front of magazines or books, and is ideal for protecting and enhancing print quality. Solutions on offer include the Digi-IR 33 and 50, DigiCoater 33, DigiCoater 50, and X-Tractor.

So, thinking about adding value to your business, and after investigating the different supporting pieces of machinery on offer, it may be worth your while to take the focus off of the show stopping printers for a moment and take a look at its supporting cast. Equipment such as joggers, paper drilling machines, and shredders may not be glamorous but they go a long way in helping the smooth running of the print process.

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