From the first continuous drying oven to a modern MetalStar 3 decorating line

Metal tins for Nivea Creme decorated on Koenig & Bauer presses ever since

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MetalStar 3
The new two-colour MetalStar 3 UV decorating line. Photo - Beiersdorf Manufacturing Hamburg

The loyalty of the Beiersdorf company as a customer plays a significant role in the history of metal decorating and is closely linked with the very roots of Koenig & Bauer MetalPrint. LTG Lufttechnische, a specialist supplier of industrial air conditioning systems, entered the metal decorating market with the first continuous drying oven for metal sheets in 1932.

The first LTG drying oven installed after a Mailänder metal decorating press in 1932

The newly designed oven was an absolute innovation and was paired with a metal decorating press from the Mailänder company, which printed the distinctive blue Nivea Creme tins. The first metal decorating line was born. In the past, the sheets had been transported to a batch dryer and then unloaded again by hand, but now they could be conveyed to the oven automatically, carried through the thermal drying process by way of a chain drive, and subsequently unloaded automatically.

A Nivea Creme tin from the 1930s. Photo – Beiersdorf Manufacturing Hamburg

A letter of recommendation dating from 1937 proves just how much Beiersdorf appreciated the LTG oven. It reads, “We are very satisfied with the drying oven for metal sheets supplied by your company. The best proof of this was our decision to follow the installation of the first oven with an order for two more.”

The two companies – Mailänder and LTG – worked together for many decades and installed hundreds of metal decorating lines worldwide until Mailänder was bought up by LTG in 1994. In 2006, LTG Mailänder was acquired by the Koenig & Bauer Group and integrated into the company, which today operates as Koenig & Bauer MetalPrint.

Beiersdorf has remained loyal to the machines of Koenig & Bauer to this day. And the famous Nivea Creme tins are still produced on one of our presses – albeit now on an ultramodern high-performance MetalStar 3 decorating line which was installed at the beginning of the year. In place of a thermal drying oven, the metal sheets are today cured with a UV system.

MetalStar 3
MetalStar 3 which continues to produce the famous blue tins for Nivea Crème. Photo – Beiersdorf Manufacturing Hamburg

According to the company, modern features accelerate make ready and enhance productivity. For example, MetalStar 3 incorporates a fully automatic plate changing. With CleanTronic Synchro, the blankets and impression cylinders can be washed simultaneously, or the blankets can be washed using two washing beams. CleanTronic SRW permits the simultaneous washing of the ink rollers, blankets, and impression cylinders. The time required for the washing process is thus significantly shorter.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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