Windmöller & Hölscher’s innovative Easy-Set fully-automated impression setting system recently won the American Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) ‘2005 Technical Innovations Award’ and received a ‘Technical Achievement’ gold honour from the European Flexographic Technical Association (EFTA).
Also, at the EFTA’s 2005 Print Awards the W+H-submitted ‘Tropical Fruit’ print sample, printed on an Astraflex press equipped with Easy-Set, won silver in the ‘Promotional Prints’ category and came out ‘Best in Class’ (there was no gold awarded).
Among the jury’s justification for the award was the smooth half-tone gradations of the design underscoring the ‘outstanding flexographic print quality’.
The Easy-Set technology was announced at drupa 2004. Since then it has created considerable interest, including in Australia where Agfa represents the company, according to W+H regional sales director Michael Fischer.
“The system is operating on over 30 presses worldwide and we already have four units installed across Australia and New Zealand,” he says.
“It is suitable for all new Astraflex, Novoflex, and Primaflex direct drive central impression (CI) presses and can also be retrofitted to existing W&H direct drive CI machines. “
The automatic press set-up system allows precise adjustment of the anilox and plate impression settings to produce consistent print quality quickly.
The impression settings are precisely reproduced each time and are not dependent on external influences.
Adjustments are made to the impression pressure of the anilox roller to the printing sleeve, and the impression pressure of the printing sleeve to the CI drum. This is done for the whole width of the press - drive side and operator side to get an equally balanced printout quality.
“This function is normally performed manually by the operator, so Easy-Set automates the process,” Fischer explained.
“With the automation comes speed, precision and, with that, shorter make readies resulting in less waste and simple reproducibility, which is important for repeat orders. The printer also has additional time to prepare the press for the following job.”
As its name implies, the system is easy to set up.
At the ‘push of a button’, it automatically performs all settings, without any further operator intervention.
A sequence controller ensures all impression-setting steps are executed correctly and a camera is used to feed back information to the machine controller for adjustments.
“The line scan camera will read the image printout – colour deck by colour deck - which is achieved with a slight over-pressure to make sure that the whole image is printed once,” Fischer said.
“The Easy-Set system will then balance the impression pressure within a very short period of time, to achieve the best printout results.”
Set-up waste is therefore reduced and start-up times much faster. It is also possible to achieve web speeds during impression setting of up to 120 m/min.
“On top of this, the system is offering significant advantages to regions where the flexographic printing technology is not widely spread and skilled operators are not yet available to set up challenging jobs to ‘kiss-printing’ quality,” he adds.