During the tests, which took place Oct. 11 at Uteco’s advanced manufacturing facility near Verona , Italy, the team from La Gerunda was joined by specialists from partner manufacturer Air Motion Systems to see the Uteco ONYX 810 CI-flexo press deliver excellent performance at running speeds up to 400 mpm. Color vibrancy and tight registration were maintained at all speeds – even during changes in speed – and the printed substrate was ASTM tape-test dry on the roll in the delivery; because there is no heat emission during LED UV curing, the printed roll was ready for immediate downstream processing. AMS lamps use blue light LED, switching on and off instantly (10 milliseconds), so they don’t require a "stand-by" mode and use much less electricity (typical savings of 60% over conventional UV); the prices of the inks as well are becoming more competitive as the LED UV process takes off within the flexible packaging sector.
For La Gerunda Managing Director Pino De Gradi, these operational benefits offer him a clear manufacturing advantage over his four existing UV and EB presses, but the technical and environmental characteristics of the new Uteco system are of equal importance, as his €8.5-million turnover company targets new market sectors.
He explains, “The bulk of our existing business is in the horticulture, agriculture and pet food sectors, but we have identified flexible packaging for the Healthcare and Food industries as our target growth markets. For this we need secure substrate integrity and ecologically sustainable operation. The new LED UV low migration inks and the AMS system’s low-energy, ozone-free, non-mercury lamp units offer us that. We already have contracts in place to supply diaper packaging, as well as high volume food products, and we are aiming to push turnover to €12 million per year within three years.”
For La Gerunda, the new ONYX represents a return to Uteco after more than 20 years and followed an intensive examination of the technologies on offer from the leading manufacturers. He continues, “We found that the levels of automation and the technologies built into the ONYX are very impressive,” he says. “The production runs in this sector can be short so the Uteco Direct Drive Evo® and their Thermilox® Anilox solution offer benefits for better productivity, while their more advanced cleaning systems contribute to faster job changeovers with less waste.”
The La Gerunda ONYX 810 has been specified with eight printing stations, 1,250-mm maximum web width and 1,100-mm maximum print repeat cycle. Seven AMS UV-LED curing lamps are fitted at the printing stations around the Central Impression drum with the eighth situated at the exit of the web on the top deck. The print tests confirmed that the systems performed at speeds way beyond the expected 300 mpm, even reaching 400 mpm; the press has been provided with the housing for a ninth AMS unit, adjacent to the eighth, if La Gerunda should decide, at some time in the future, to upgrade the press to the 500-mpm option with the next AMS UV-LED lamp development, the XP ULTRA.
For Uteco, Chief Marketing Officer Davide Cucinella says, "Once again, Uteco is in the vanguard of the drive to higher performance and more environmentally responsible production. The eyes of the industry have been on this project, even from the aisles of drupa 2016, and the absolute success of these print tests confirm that this solution will be a major player in our sector in the years ahead; we already have several other orders in the pipeline and the verdict is clear – blue light gets the green light in large format flexo."
La Gerunda’s order for the world’s largest UV-LED-enabled flexo press system was announced in April this year. In the intervening months, both Uteco and Air Motion Systems have reported unprecedented success at drupa.
The outstanding success of its UV-LED systems has seen AMS increase its staff by more than 50% in 2016 at its world headquarters in River Falls, WI.