In recent years, high-resolution direct laser engraving has established itself in various markets for the production of gravure cylinders, flexo plates or embossing cylinders. However, the application possibilities of direct structuring are far from being exhausted. For this reason, in June 2022 Hell Gravure Systems recently invited its customers to an information exchange at the company headquartes in Kiel.
At this first Hell Laserday, it was primarily the users who had the floor. With David Möller (4Packaging), Dietmar Buchholz (gravion) and Ferat Sarac (Saueressig Group), CEO Adam Rid welcomed three top-class keynote speakers who were eager to share their experiences with direct laser engraving. During the live demonstrations that followed, Hell application engineers were then also on hand to answer questions.
Hell Laserday 2023 - the possibilities of direct laser engraving
In his welcoming speech, Adam Rid, CEO of Hell Gravure Systems, emphasised the many possible applications of direct laser engraving for surface structuring of elastomeric and metallic surfaces. Compared to complex handcraft methods and chemical processes with many production steps, laser direct engraving drastically shortens the production workflow. In addition, the direct engraving process is stable, reproducible and sustainable.
(Quelle: Ansgar Wessendorf)
David Möller, CEO of 4Packaging, described the advantages and extended application possibilities of direct laser gravure cylinders. Such engraving on copper cylinder surfaces using the Cellaxy from Hell Gravure Systems enables a high degree of variability in the design and definition of cell geometries for different applications. This results in considerable savings on inks and coatings in gravure printing, partly due to the improved release properties of the cells. Directly engraved gravure cylinders (anilox rollers) also enable large, defined quantities of coating to be transferred, which is particularly advantageous for barrier coatings. 4Packaging annually produces around 6000 gravure cylinders and 1000 embossing rollers with its four Cellaxy lines.
(Quelle: Ansgar Wessendorf)
Bild: MARTINA HIERGESELL
Ferrat Sarac, Director Elastomer and Innovations EMEA at Saueressig Group, explained that his company uses a total of seven PremiumSetters from Hell Gravure Systems for direct laser engraving of elastomer flexo printing plates and elastomer flexo sleeves at its Vreden site. The automated production line is exclusively used for direct laser engraving and the complex production of photopolymer flexo printing plates has been terminated. A new production facility for direct engraving of elastomer flexo printing plates was opened this year in East Butler, Pennsylvania/USA. Ferrat Sarac explained in detail the many advantages of this process for the producing of flexo printing plates. This includes a lean, solvent-free two-step manufacturing process, HD quality, high printing speed, improved ink transfer through micro-structuring, stable printing of highlight tones through undercut, short set-up times on flexo presses, excellent register and a wide range of customised rubber (EPDM) compounds for various printing applications. The EPDM material is environmentally friendly and features high mechanical and chemical resistance
Dietmar Buchholz, founder and CEO of gravion, described the rapid development of this embossing roller manufacturer, founded in 2019. Gravion has now ordered its fourth Cellaxy direct laser engraving machine from Hell Gravure Systems to expand its capacity and underline its ability to provide first-class embossing solutions. The new Cellaxy V5 XL will complement the existing machinery at the Rheinfelden production site, bringing the total number of these machines at the site to four. “We have invested a total of over four million euros to date,” said Dietmar Buchholz. Gravion's expansion course continues. In May of this year, gravion USA Inc. was founded, with headquarters in Canton, near Atlanta/GA. The first two Cellaxy V5 XL’s for this location were ordered in June 2023, with installation and start of production scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.
The three member companies of Heliograph Holding, Kaspar Graphic Solutions, Hell Gravure Systems and Glunz & Jensen, have jointly developed the complete solution “Plate On Demand” for the efficient production of flexo printing plates. Dirk Bömelburg, application specialist at Hell Gravure Systems, explained, “With the 'Plate On Demand' concept a simple, fast, space-saving, standardised and on-demand plate production can be realised directly at the flexo press." The process involves cutting the plate reel stock from Kaspar Graphic Solutions to the required format size, laser direct engraving of the elastomer printing plate on Hell Gravure Systems' PremiumSetter and plate cleaning on Glunz & Jensen's equipment.
The Hell Laserday concluded with a joint sailing trip, which provided ample opportunity for in-depth discussions and one-on-one meetings. The very positive feedback on this first Laserday makes a repetition more than likely.