The newly created Italian Print4All (Milan) trade fair didn’t just gather the most important industry suppliers together but also attracted a surprisingly high number of visitors.
A smart trade fair concept
Print4All, organised for the first time in 2018, is a fusion of the previous Grafitalia, Converflex and Inprinting trade fairs. Putting these events together under one roof can only be called a big success. The strong attendance showed that in addition to international trade fairs and open houses at national level, professionals also need broad platforms where they can meet with a large number of exhibitors. It was also clever to organise trade fairs like Meat Tech, Intralogistica Italia, Ipack-IMA and Plast at the same time, making it easy for visitors to see the bigger picture.
Latest printing presses with EB curing
One of the major players on the market, the Uteco Group, exhibited two new machines at Print4All which were presented for the first time at Labelexpo 2017, the Gaia narrow web digital inkjet printer was in evidence in the latest version with an integrated EB curing system provided by ebeam Technologies. Benefits of this technology include EB inks that do not contain any photoinitiators, solvents or plasticisers. This avoids any contamination of the packaging materials or the packed goods caused by migration. The second Uteco system on the stand, the solvent-free Rainbow 4.0 laminator, is equipped with an effective system for web tension control plus suitable substrates to produce food packaging.
Parallel to the trade fair, Uteco offered an invitation to an open house event at its production plant 2 andthe ConverDome technology centre. Here there was a real world première, as visitors were able to get a look at the hybrid Sapphire EVO press for package and label printing and equipped with the Kodak Stream continuous inkjet technology (CIJ) in live production. The press is designed to use water-based inks and therefore is an ideal solution for sensitive food packaging applications. The new NXS 300 gravure press, which was also on display at the ConverDrome, impressed visitors with shorter set-up times and it is also suitable for using water-based inks.
Like Uteco, the Italian company KBA-Flexotechnica also showed a solvent-free laminator. The Evolam not only facilitates the efficient use of solvent-free adhesives but was also specially designed with high economic efficiency in mind. A newly developed technology for the even application of small amounts of adhesives over the entire substrate surface and the improved web tension control boosts the ROI. In the next step of development, it should be possible to apply different adhesives or coatings at the same time with the Evolam. This relates to solvent- or water-based adhesives and new EB or UV curing substances and materials for coating and laminating.
Digital printing has been introduced by many providers. For example, Omet presented the XJet hybrid printing press developed in collaboration with the Italian company Durst. The system combines a Durst Tau RSC inkjet unit with the Omet X6 flexo printing technology, resulting in a number of new and most promising applications.
Tresu presented the new FlexiPrint Reservoir SaveInk chamber doctor blade system, which is designed for narrow web flexo printing using UV and water-based inks. The company also provided information about its vast range of accessories for flexo printing applications. The integrated coating solutions for digital printing and the Flexo Innovator series of fully-modular flexo presses attracted the attention of many visitors.
Digitalisation improves service
The R98X gravure printing unit of Cerutti on display was equipped with more powerful drying systems. This results in significant benefits in terms of energy consumption, ergonomics and the ability to integrate the printing unit into various workflow systems.
The focus was also on the business division led by Luigi Cerutti, who has recently joined the company’s management board. He highlighted the launch of a digital platform for comprehensive customer service. All the back office processes have been improved and the supply of spare parts is faster. The use of new IoT (Internet-of-Things) sensors makes it possible for Cerutti to carry out online diagnosis.
Bobst also highlighted its range of services at itsstand. This includes connected services for remote monitoring, remote maintenance and fast troubleshooting. Like Uteco, Bobst also organised an open house parallel to Print4All. The highlight in the webfed area was the new 20Seven central impression flexo press (see page xxx of this issue of Flexo & Gravure Global). According to the company, this machine has achieved a new level in terms of process stability and repeat accuracy in both conventional printing processes and in printing with a fixed colour palette. For coating and vacuum metallising applications, Bobst demonstrated the new K5 Vision vacuum metalliser. In the sheetfed segment, the Mastercut 106 PER 3.0 flatbed die-cutter and the Masterfoil 106 PR hot foil stamper generated huge interest among the visitors. Inline systems like Accucheck improve quality control and therefore the level of overall product quality.
Visitors were able to see on the SEI Laser stand that digitalisationnot only relates to printing applications: this future technology can also be used in the flexible packaging segment with the Packmaster CW laser system. This gives print shops the opportunity to offer completely new products.
Print4All make it blatantly obvious that conventional printing processes are further increasing their efficiency through an even higher degree of automation. At the same time, printing service providers will find it hard to avoid integrating digital printing processes into their production in future. This makes it possible to extend the product range. The continuing social debate on sustainability also will not silence the call for more ecological production. Printing companies should also keep an eye on this trend.