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Open/Close or Set While Run: Which Flexo Folder Gluer is Right for the Job?

There are multiple quality Flexo Folder Gluer (FFG) manufacturers in the market, but not every machine offers the features you need to produce the boxes in your current or aspiring order mix, efficiently and economically. Auditing your print jobs and process aspirations is the key to understanding what machine features you’ll need to achieve your goals, for long runs or small orders. There are many things to consider when purchasing a Flexo Folder Gluer, and if your due diligence is not thorough, you could be making the wrong decision for your company.  Consider the following when deciding on the right capital investment for your order mix, your employees and your future.

Send us your order mix and production goals and our system can calculate which Flexo Folder Gluer size, configuration, color stations and machine features would generate the best ROI for your operations.

 

Long Run Print Jobs (> 5,000)

Flexo Folder Gluers have evolved into fast, powerful workhorses, capable of high speed converting of sheets, to meet the demand of the corrugated packaging industry. If primarily converting corrugated board in mass quantities, consider the following in your purchase of an FFG.

Open/Close Systems

If you are seeking a Flexo Folder Gluer to increase capacity and productivity and have few changeovers per shift, an Open/Close system may make the most sense for your operations. Open/Close systems do not allow operator access to the internal machine components during production. The configuration is either off and open for job changeovers or closed for production – there is no in between. These powerful FFG systems, like the Latitude P-Series, are built for speed and capacity, getting those large orders out the door efficiently and effectively.

In our experience serving box makers, we believe that an Open/Close FFG is best for printers producing 10 or less print jobs per shift. We’ve observed printers spending between 20-30 minutes preparing an Open/Close machine between jobs, and that downtime can add up if job changes become frequent. For example, let’s say the machine can produce an ROI of $1,000 per hour, and it takes operators 30 minutes for changeovers; with 10 job changes per shift, you would have about 5 hours of machine downtime, losing virtually $5,000 per shift. This could add up to a whopping 5+ million in loss value every year, assuming 24/7 operations.  That’s why speed, capacity and quality are the highlight of these converting workhorses, making them a smart option for converters with few job changes per shift.

Set While Run

Although Open/Close systems have been the system of choice for mass box production, some corrugated converters are finding that Set While Run machines can optimize their work force during long run orders.  We have witnessed Converters reduce the number of operators per shift, using Set While Run technology, while still maintaining their machine productivity and box quality.  During long runs on an Open/Close machine configuration, operators may have down time as they wait for orders to complete before setting the machine for the next job. However, with Set While Run, one press operator can float between multiple stations and prepare other machines for the next order in the queue. Printers taking advantage of this method can maximize their operators’ time on the floor and reduce downtime immensely.

Short Run Print Jobs (< 5,000)

As order mixes shift from millions of shipping boxes to seasonal branding vehicles, short runs have quickly become the money makers of the box industry… if you have the equipment to produce them efficiently. Orders of 5,000, or less, are now more common than ever and a Set While Run machine is the choice for this order mix. Here’s why…

Set While Run

For Corrugated Printers producing 10+ print jobs consistently per shift, we recommend Flexo Folder Gluers that are Set While Run. Set While Run technology allows operators to prepare unused print stations for the next job order, while the machine is still producing the first. Access to the plate cylinders, ink stations and other components are available while the machine is still in production. This allows operators to change plates, modify inks and prepare other consumables for the next job, without interrupting production. When a short run is done, the operator need only to perform a few simple tasks to begin the next order. With minimal downtime, ease of operations and high-quality printing and folding, Set While Run FFGs, like the Latitude PP-Series with inside printing capabilities, are a solid choice for dynamic printers producing small quantities throughout the days.

Long & Short Run Mix

But what if your order mix changes by season? What if it’s practically half and half? If throughout the year there is seasons of both long runs and short runs, a Set While Run machine is the best option for your operations. During seasons of small order quantities, the ability to set the machine for the next order, during production, is a must in order to remain competitive. When the long run contracts renew, having a machine that is powerful and fast is key to remaining productive and profitable. LMC’s unique/smart design make the set while run machine a very affordable option over the open close configuration without increasing the required machine footprint. The flexibility and functionality offered by a Set While Run configuration makes it a great hybrid option for converters who navigate seasons of large and small order quantities.

 

Custom FFG Generator

Purchasing a new Flexo Folder Gluer is a risky venture that converters take with the hope of solidifying their future within the box industry. SUN Automation is happy to assist you in your search for the perfect Flexo Folder Gluer for your order mix and your future. Take advantage of the SUN Custom FFG Generator – send us your order mix and production goals and our system can calculate which Flexo Folder Gluer size, configuration, color stations and machine features would generate the best ROI for your operations. For decades, SUN has provided quality corrugated converting equipment to the box industry with the parts and service support you know and trust. With the partnership between SUN Automation and Latitude Machinery, SUN Automation now offers quality Flexo Folder Gluers and other Latitude equipment to the North and Central American market. Latitude Machinery Corp. manufacturers Flexo Folder Gluers ranging from Mini to JUMBO, and are “probably the best machine as far as boxes of any plant we have in our company” according to Brian Fitch, General Manager of Premier Packaging, Indianapolis facility (View Customer Testimonial). LMC is a Taiwanese company located in the independent nation of Taiwan and a long-time ally of the United States. Speak with a Specialist to discuss your capital equipment goals and how we can assist you with Everything Corrugated Under SUN.

4 REASONS YOU SHOULD INVEST IN AN ANVIL TRIMMER FOR YOUR ROTARY DIE CUTTER

Corrugated Die CutAs corrugated packaging designs become more intricate in request, the die cut section of your converting machine can make the difference between a corrugated POP and a corrugated FLOP. Whether it be automatic packaging lines, trays, retail ready packaging, or display work, high quality corrugated design requires a persistent eye on perfection.  A die cut section equipped with sharp tooling, precise registration, speed control and a consistently smooth anvil blanket is needed to create these modern corrugated jobs. However, according to market surveys, Retailers believe converters need to produce better, cleaner perforations to improve packaging functionality and appeal.

Anvil Trimmers are a great solution to improve die cut accuracy and cut consistency – along with its many other benefits. Here are four reasons corrugated converters have invested in the SUN MicroGrind® Anvil Trimmer: 

#1. Improve Die Cut Consistency

Having a uniform surface throughout the life of the anvil blanket is key to producing accurate die cuts, nicks and scores, from the first board to the last. However, the anvil’s surface can become compromised due to the constant blow of the cutting die during production. Dips and valleys may begin to take shape in your anvil blanket and this uneven surface is the prime culprit of improper or incomplete die cuts. To trim the anvil back to a uniform surface, MicroGrind® uses a heavy duty tungsten carbide roll to automatically grind precisely .001” of material from the anvil blanket, every 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 sheets. This micro-grind to the surface keeps the anvil cover flat and true, creating proper knife-to-anvil contact which leads to precise cuts and pleased customers.

#2 Control the Anvil Speed

Anvil Trimmer Technology

For machines with an independently driven anvil drum (servo or vector-drives), it is important for your anvil to match the speed of the die cut to avoid inaccurate cut lengths. Thankfully, MicroGrind® can integrate with most existing speed compensators. Once contact has been made with the anvil blanket, the MicroGrind® Anvil Trimmer will calculate the anvil speed and then recalculate after each subsequent grind. This information sends directly to the existing independent drive control system, thus providing for accurate speed control throughout the life of the covers. Anvil speed management is a huge factor and controlling it means your customers get the same size box, every time – new blanket or old. For machines that don’t have an existing speed compensation, SUN can provide in most cases and will function as noted.

#3 Proper Scrap Ejection & Waste Reduction

When you have improper cuts, due to a rugged anvil blanket, scraps are not ejecting properly from the board. And as you know, leftover scraps can cause several frustrations for you and your customers. Jammed packaging lines, dysfunctional perforations and confusing or laborious shelf appeal are some of the scrap-related reasons your customers may begin turning to your competitors. But with MicroGrind® keeping the anvil smooth, the equation is simple: uniform anvil + effective tooling = accurate die cuts – board scrap. And that’s what happy customers want.

#4 Extend Tool Life & Machine Care

As operators begin to notice the inconsistent die cuts across the board, a common and quick way they troubleshoot is by applying more pressure to increase contact to the anvil blanket. Easy, right? Not if the problem is the surface of the anvil – increasing pressure can harm multiple components of the machine! For instance, with an increase in pressure, the area of knives that were already performing well can be damaged by the unnecessary force (while the tooling not penetrating earlier may be fine), the anvil blanket can be corrupted even more and overall more stress is placed on the machine. With MicroGrind® grinding the anvil cover without operator intervention, operators no longer think to over-pressure the machine to compensate for imperfections in the anvil – since there are none. This extends tool life and relieves stress on your machine, reducing costs in equipment maintenance or break downs and tooling replacements.

MicroGrind Top Anvil Trimmer With SUN Automation’s MicroGrind Die Cut Accuracy system, you’re not only investing in a quality anvil trimmer, you receive a full system engineered to eliminate the rotary die cutting variables that impact sheet length, scoring, scrap ejection and machine/tooling life. MicroGrind is available for both top and bottom anvil configurations and is compatible with many original equipment manufacturers. The ability to produce retail ready packaging, POP displays, shelf-ready trays and more commands a die cutter or flexo folder gluer up for the challenge. Request a quote for a MicroGrind unit today and a SUN representative will contact you with more information.

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MicroGrind® Anvil Trimmer [InfoGraphic]

For a higher level of precision, consistency and repeatability, SUN Automation Group’s MicroGrind ® Die Cut Accuracy System hits the mark. For years, machine designers attempted to trim the anvil with several different methods. While those methods were effective, none have been as successful as MicroGrind. Sun’s MicroGrind system uses a tungsten carbide grinding roll to grind the anvil flat and true. This inventive idea allows the surface to be treated in micro amounts (0.001” or 0.025 mm) automatically with grinding precision every 10,000 impressions without operator intervention.

 

 

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Dual Blade Ink Systems: Advantages and Disadvantages

It’s no secret that the corrugated market has slowly but surely increased in intricate process work. With the rise of E-commerce, unboxing trends, point of purchase displays and inside designs, Corrugated Printers needed to quickly adapt to the complex needs of the market to stay competitive.  As the demand for higher quality print continues to grow, Corrugated Converters are looking to new innovations to tackle the detailed designs of today’s top brands. Corrugated ink system manufacturers have made great strides in technology to help Converters achieve the precise, controlled ink metering needed for high quality print.

Currently, there are 3 types of corrugated ink systems: a Roll-to-roll ink system, a single doctor blade system and a dual doctor blade system. Converters who have no requirements for process work should have no issues using the 2-roll ink systems to achieve flood coating or block letter printing of shipping box clients. However, Converters seeking to diversify their product portfolio and improve print quality should consider switching to an ink system that utilizes a doctor blade.

There are many reasons to switch to a doctor blade ink system, but which of the 2 doctor blade systems are best for your process? In this blog post, we’ll focus on dual blade, enclosed ink systems and the advantages and disadvantages of this technology. We’ve considered the same for single blade ink systems in another blog published here: LINK.

Dual Blade Ink Systems

ACCUPRINT® DUAL BLADE CHAMBERED CORRUGATED INK SYSTEMS

A dual doctor blade ink system is a fully enclosed ink system, with two doctor blades installed – one blade for metering the anilox roll and one blade for ink containment. Dual blade systems require 2 end seals and adequate chamber pressure in order to maintain the tight seal between the ink chamber and the anilox roll.

Advantages

Dual blade ink systems are catching stride in the industry as the premium ink system solution for high quality process printing. The major advantages of a dual blade system derive from its fully enclosed design. The sealed chamber protects the ink from the harsh environments of corrugated, sustaining proper ink viscosity much longer than an open system.  In addition, the secured chamber leaves little access for dust, dirt and debris to contaminate the ink or interrupt the ink pump, which improves color consistency, print quality and uptime. Also, ink waste is at a minimum with enclosed systems considering the containment blade holds ink inside the chamber and little ink is wasted within an ink pan. A dual blade system is a process work horse, effectively metering the tighter cells and intricate details found in today’s process work. Utilizing the advantages of a dual blade ink system is a sure way to delight customers with the best quality print.

Disadvantages

Although dual blade ink systems are an incredible technology for process work, they, like many print systems, have some disadvantages. Because of the added containment components and the product development warranted for this ink system, the price of a dual blade system is higher than that of a single blade system. Also, a dual blade system is most effectively used for process work and is often restricted to that niche of print jobs, making them less economic for printers who print a variety of jobs on a single press. Additionally, there is the added costs of consumables (2 blades and end seals), which need to be replaced regularly. Lastly, enclosed chamber systems require more operator training, and therefore are more vulnerable to operator mishaps. Press disruptions like end seal blow outs, chamber leaks, nonuniform blades and more, can be caused by a new or under-trained operator interacting with the equipment.

AccuPrint® Dual Blade Ink System

For converting machinery printing predominantly process work, a dual blade ink system is the best solution for your jobs. This system effectively meters higher line screen anilox rolls, while maintaining color consistency and print quality.

For superior graphics using quality inks and substrates, AccuPrint® is the corrugated ink system of choice. Manufactured by SUN Automation Group, AccuPrint® is a flexo ink-metering system that protects ink from the harsh factory environment to improve ink quality and performance. Designed to counteract the traditional disadvantages of a dual blade system, AccuPrint® features a toolless design allowing for quick and easy end seals and blade changes. Additionally, AccuPrint®  is equipped with a pressurized air bladder to uniformly hold the blades in place to consistently meter the anilox. Ultimately, AccuPrint® technology minimizes the risk for operator error. Backed by the SUN service and support team, SUN offers operator training and 24/7 on call or onsite support to assist with any and all operator needs.

For more information on the SUN AccuPrint® Dual Blade Ink System, and to request a quote, CLICK HERE.

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Single Blade Ink Systems: Advantages and Disadvantages

The corrugated box is no longer just a simple medium to deliver products from point A to point B. Boxes are now a large part of the consumer experience and expected to be a sophisticated marketing piece. As a result, Corrugated Printers are quickly adapting to the complex needs of this new market to stay competitive. As the demand for higher quality print continues to grow, Converters have turned to chamber manufacturers to achieve the precise, controlled ink metering needed for high quality print.

Currently, there are 3 types of corrugated ink systems: a roll-to-roll ink system, a single doctor blade system and a dual doctor blade system. Converters who do not require any process work typically have no issues using a 2-roll ink system to achieve the flood coating or block letter printing. However, Converters seeking to diversify their product portfolio and improve print quality should consider switching to an ink system that utilizes a doctor blade.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on single blade ink systems and the advantages and disadvantages of this technology. We’ve considered the same for dual blade ink systems in another blog published here: LINK.

Single Blade Ink Systems

COLORMASTER® SINGLE BLADE INK SYSTEM CORRUGATED INK SYSTEMSA single blade ink system is an open ink system, with one doctor blade installed for metering the anilox roll. Single blade ink systems require an ink pan directly below the system to catch the run-off ink, which is then filtered and pumped back into the system. 

Advantages

Single doctor blade ink systems have become increasingly popular among Corrugated Converters today for many reasons.  For starters, they cost much less than their dual-blade counterparts and are capable of effectively metering a variety of print applications: higher line screen process work, block lettering, flood coats etc.  Printers also spend less money on consumables– only one blade is required and no end seals are needed in single blade systems.  In addition, the open design allows for easier access for wash ups, decreasing clean times and therefore increasing press uptime.

Disadvantages

Although single blade ink systems are the popular choice of blade systems, there are some downfalls to this ink-delivering technology. The most obvious disadvantage is the fact that the system is open, therefore exposed to the surrounding environment. If you’ve walked through a corrugated plant, then you know it can be a hostile setting for your ink. Dust, dirt, debris and scraps have easier access to an open system (single blade or roll-to-roll) and can cause hickeys and other defects within your print, as well as disruption within your ink pumps. The open system also makes it difficult to maintain ink viscosity, resulting in a breakdown in pigments and the need for possible amine additives. Another disadvantage is the potential ink waste. With a single blade system, ink residue is not only found within the ink cavity, but also within the ink pan, causing more waste than what you would expect from an enclosed chamber.

ColorMaster® Single Blade Ink System

For facilities producing a wide variety of orders – flood coats, process work, and block lettering – we recommend a single blade ink system. The capabilities of these systems are flexible and can effectively and efficiently meter an assortment of print jobs.

Sun Automation Group manufacturers an economic and versatile single blade ink system for Corrugated Printers – ColorMaster®. The ColorMaster® Single Blade Ink System is lightweight, corrosion resistant and economically designed to improve ink metering for printers worldwide. The design of the ColorMaster®  combats some of the traditional disadvantages of a single blade ink system. ColorMaster®  is equipped with a stainless steel shield to effectively shelter your ink from dust and debris, maintaining ink integrity and improving print quality. The ColorMaster® base assembly and SST ink pan (between frames) and all of its options are sold separately so you can purchase only what is required.  Even more, with our fleet of service technicians and coordinators, SUN can retrofit your machines with the ColorMaster® Ink System with limited downtime.

Ready to delight your customers with higher quality print?  CLICK HERE for more information on the SUN ColorMaster® Single Blade Ink System, and to request a quote.