The Italian flexo press manufacturer Lombardi used the recent Print4All exhibition in Milan to show off a new hybrid digital press, the Astra, combined with a narrow web flexo line. Lombardi has developed the Astra inkjet unit as part of a hybrid narrow web press.
Previously Lombardi has combined a Domino N610i inkjet press with its own flexo units to create the DigiStar Hybrid, which the company is continuing to sell. But for the Astra, Lombardi has built its own inkjet unit, which can be combined with any of Lombardi’s other modules, including flexo, screen printing and die cutting, to create a very flexible hybrid press. Marketing manager Nicola Lombardi explains: “We wanted to create our own unit to give our customers Lombardi’s quality even in the digital field.”
The Astra is available in a choice of print widths, including 330, 430, 530 and 600mm, with the maximum substrate width being 620mm. This in turn suggests that Lombardi is looking to go beyond the label market and to also target a slice of the packaging print market. That is an interesting proposition since there are several hybrid presses already covering the label space but not much competition in the mid-range 620mm-wide area of the market, where Lombardi already has flexo presses in its line-up.
The Astra uses Fujifilm Dimatix SG600 printheads, with each head having a print width of 65mm. These heads feature full recirculation right past the nozzles. Service engineer Diego Baggi says that the heads can be easily replaced with an automatic calibration process, adding, “If a nozzle fails we can use the nozzles either side.”
The version shown in Milan was the 330mm with five heads for each colour. That version had four colours but the Astra can be configured with up to eight colours, including CMYK plus orange, green and violet as well as white.
The Astra uses UV-curable ink with pinning after the cyan, magenta and yellow heads to hold the dots, and a final LED curing immediately after the black printhead. Nicola Lombardi says that the company is using several ink brands, which itself would be an unusual approach given the work involved in optimising waveforms and inks for a given press configuration.
The Astra runs at 50mpm, which is not fast by today’s standards but should be enough for short to medium run work providing that Lombardi can put together a competitive solution. That shouldn’t be too difficult given the modular nature of Lombardi’s already proven flexo and converting units. The version shown in Milan was running and had a flexo unit before the Astra and semi rotary die cutter after it, with Lombardi saying that the company had used the time during the lockdown to simplify the operation of the die cutting unit. The units are fully servo controlled with two servo motors each, which should ensure the precision necessary to handle a full range of typical substrates including flexible films.
Lombardi concludes, “Our technology is 100 percent made in Italy.” You can find more information on the Lombardi presses from Lombardi.it.
Republished by permission from www.nessancleary.com