Drupa 2024: Highly inventive upstream and downstream printing and converting units offer unique configuration options for SOMA's Optima2 CI flexo press

New concepts for the realisation of value-added packaging solutions

Highly inventive upstream and downstream printing and converting units offer unique configuration options for SOMA's Optima2 CI flexo press
Compared to other inline configurations, the 90-degree lateral arrangement of the Flexo IPU significantly reduces the length of the Optima2 (Source: SOMA)

In the world of package printing, innovation and efficiency are of paramount importance. The Intelligent Printing Units (IPU) developed by SOMA for the successful Optima2 CI CI flexo press mark a milestone in this evolutionary process. They open up a host of new and enhanced possibilities for coating and converting a wide range of packaging materials.

IPU technology enables the production of packaging that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also offers barrier properties and meets sustainability requirements. By integrating various printing and converting processes, it is possible to create value-added packaging that meets consumer needs as well as environmental and resource conservation requirements. Single-operation packaging production using IPU technology significantly increases efficiency and productivity. The production process is optimised, changeover times are minimised and waste is reduced. This enables package printers to produce more cost-effectively while improving the quality of their products. The modular design includes a variety of IPUs covering applications from varnishing, coating and laminating to the generation of special effects. This opens up new and expanded options for finishing and coating a wide range of packaging materials.


Unique configuration possibilities with the Optima series

The Optima2 CI flexo press from SOMA’s Optima range is available in eight or ten unit versions and features a particularly high level of automation. The two models can be configured according to the individual needs of the printer – whether for the production of flexible packaging (food, non-food), aluminium lidding, paper cups, labels or shrink film. The range of materials that can be processed extends from films such as LDPE, HDPE, HDPP, CPP, BOPP, PET, OPA to paper and laminates.One of the biggest challenges for print shops is dealing with short run lengths. Optima presses are designed for easy make-ready. They are built low and the web is easily accessible everywhere at the press. IRIS (Intelligent Register and Impression Setting System) is the Optima’s fully-automated system for automatically setting impression  pressure and register on all active print decks in just a few minutes – with virtually no ink consumption and minimal waste. A special design feature of all Optima presses is the clear separation of the printing area from the reel handling units. Compared to other CI flexo presses, this approach not only offers the advantage of being able to choose between different types of rewinders and unwinders, but also the possibility of positioning them side by side or one above the other. This results in more space at the winding stationss, which not only simplifies and speeds up reel changes, but also provides ideal conditions for IPU integration.

A most flexible machine concept

The Optima2‘s unconventional machine design allows unique and flexible configuration options with different upstream/downstream or dual printing units. These can be positioned either in-line with the rewinder or laterally offset by 90 degrees. SOMA’s broad portfolio of upstream/downstream solutions enables users to create sustainable packaging solutions with a variety of functional coatings that can be applied inline before or after the printing process. The Optima2 is a highly adaptable machine concept that opens the door to a wide range of applications and the associated processing of many special substrates. Additional inline flexo and gravure printing units offer a wide range of enhanced finishing options. These include functional coatings such as lacquer/OPV, scratch and scuff resistance, barrier and bonded coatings, decorative coatings such as matt or gloss, soft or paper touch, UV spot coatings and haptic elements, as well as the application of cold and hot seal or laminating adhesives.

Intelligent auxiliary printing units

As a highly agile and dynamically growing family business, SOMA uses its strengths to respond flexibly and promptly to the individual needs of flexo package printers. The majority of the company’s international customers are small, medium and family-owned businesses. This close relationship enables SOMA to understand their challenges and needs and to offer solutions that are tailored to their requirements. “Provided with the intelligent auxiliary printing units (IPU), the Optima2 offers the ideal prerequisites for configuring exactly the production press that package printers need,” says Wolfgang Henn, SOMA Sales Manager for the DACH region, which includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland. “Other machine manufacturers are usually reluctant to develop and implement specific machine solutions together with their customers, because they prefer to sell their standard machines”. SOMA offers a total of four intelligent printing units for the Optima2, covering almost the entire spectrum of finishing options for the production of flexible packaging:


New concepts for the realisation of value-added packaging solutions
The Optima2 CI flexo press can be equipped with intelligent auxiliary printing units (IPU)
(Source: SOMA)
  • 90° aligned Flexo IPU

One of SOMA’s latest developments is the 90° Flexo IPU, which is available in two versions. This innovation can be used either as an upstream or downstream printing unit and consists of a small central cylinder with up to two print decks grouped around. An outstanding feature of this printing unit is its space-saving design. Thanks to the 90-degree lateral arrangement, the machine length is considerably reduced compared to conventional inline configurations. This enables package printers to optimise the use of space in the production facility and frees up space for other important machines and equipment. The performance of the 90° Flexo IPU is particularly impressive when applying barrier coatings. The application of two homogeneous and closed barrier layers ensures the generation of most effective protective functions for the respective packaging.

The 90° Flexo IPU offers a wide range of configuration options. It is designed to print or coat the front and back of the substrate. The printing widths can be selected from 880, 1050, 1270 or 1450 mm, while the maximum mechanical speed is 500 and 600 m/min respectively. The maximum printing length is 850 or 1300 mm, depending on specific requirements of the particular job. To meet the requirements of different applications, the 90° Flexo IPU offers a choice of drying technologies. Available are a horizontal drying tunnel of 4.5 + 2 m or 6 + 2 m and a vertical tunnel (with drying zones) of 2 + 2 m or 4 + 4 m. The printing unit can also be used to apply different types of inks and varnishes (UV, solvent and water based). The 90° Flexo IPU offers a wide range of applications, including the transfer of high coat weights (g/m2), heat-seal lacquers, functional lacquers and primers. It is also available in an in-line version (In-Line Flexo IPU). This versatility makes the 90° Flexo IPU printing unit an indispensable tool for printers who want to produce high-quality packaging with enhanced and improved properties.

  • Inline Gravure IPU

As a downstream printing unit, the Inline Gravure IPU supports print widths of 880, 1050, 1270 or 1450 mm. The maximum mechanical speed is 500 or 600 m/min, depending on the configuration. The vertical drying tunnel (3.60 + 3.60 m) enables efficient drying of large quantities of varnish and ink, which contributes significantly to short lead times and improved productivity. With the Inline Gravure IPU, solvent, water-based and UV-curable inks and coatings can be applied. This makes it ideal for transferring heat-seal and especially cold-seal varnishes, as well as functional coatings and primers. Overall, the Inline Gravure IPU offers a high-performance solution for companies that want to produce high-quality packaging with demanding coating requirements and high coat weights in gravure quality.

Highly inventive upstream and downstream printing and converting units offer unique configuration options for SOMA's Optima2 CI flexo press
The downstream Inline Gravure IPU printing unit is a high-performance solution for the production of high-quality packaging with demanding coating requirements and high coating weights in gravure quality
(Source: SOMA)
  • Laminator + Flexo IPU

The inline integration of a solvent-free laminating system in combination with a downstream flexo printing unit (Flexo IPU) is another innovative option that Optima2 offers for the production of an extended range of flexible packaging. This configuration is particularly suitable for applications such as solvent-free lamination, barrier protection (coating or lamination) and paper touch coating. The inline combination of printing and laminating enables customers to produce high quality packaging solutions with high efficiency.


The flexibility and versatility of SOMA’s Optima2 in combination with the Intelligent Printing Unit (IPU) opens up a wealth of new possibilities for packaging printers. By integrating different printing and finishing technologies, the requirements for sustainability and functionality can be fully met. It is therefore a pioneering solution for meeting the growing demands of the package printing market and ensuring a future-proof position in an increasingly dynamic and demanding industry.

Visit SOMA at Drupa 2024: Hall 15, Booth A01