At drupa 2016, Uflex signed a technical collaboration agreement with Italy-based Comiflex SRL. On 8 March 2018, the company demonstrated the first gearless central impression 8-color flexo printing on film substrates. Built at its engineering business in Noida in the Delhi/NCR, the plan is to offer two Uflexo variants – the Valle CI press running at 300 meters a minute and the Elisa running at 400 meters a minute. The first press will be installed by Uflex at one of its printing and converting plants. Orders for the first three presses, including one to be exported, have already been received.
“The Uflexo Elisa is the first gearless 8-color central impression flexo press with an additional station for special coating applications. No one else has manufactured such a press in India. A major factor which made the manufacturing of this machine a success story is the technology transfer agreement with Comiflex in Italy, a well-known manufacturer of specialized CI Flexo printing machines under the guidance of technocrat Gianfranco Nespoli. We would like to thank Gianfranco Nespoli for being with us throughout the journey,” said Ajay Tandon, president and chief executive officer, Engineering Business, Uflex.
Ajay Tandon and Gianfranco Nespoli during the trial run of the Uflexo CI press in Noida
The Elisa CI flexo is capable of running at a speed of 400 meters a minute with either water- or solvent-based inks on a wide range of substrates. It has a web width of 1300 mm and although the first press shown is an 8-color, the number of printing stations can be varied from 6 to 10 and the print width can be specified on order from 800 to 1600 mm. The 120 mm thick side frames of the press provide stability while running and contribute to reducing the cylinder bounce. Backlash is avoided by eliminating gear drives and using a large number of servo motors. The unwinder and rewinder also have several advanced features to enhance efficient and precise high-quality reproduction.
The Uflexo contains a large number of automation features for easy operation, cleaning and maintenance. A breakthrough patented technology is used for automated cleaning of each of the color units that reduces the amount of solvent used by a factor of ten. The automatic wash-up is integrated with the inking system and controlled by independent PLC software. Automation extends to changeovers of print jobs with several steps in the release, change and lock-up of plate and anilox rolls.
Time and solvent are saved, while the hands of the press operator remain clean. The double-walled steel central impression drum is mounted on self-aligned roller bearings. It has a chilled water circulating system to maintain steady temperature across the width and around the drum. The precision transfer of ink is augmented and monitored by an automated color registration system. The Uflexo is operator-friendly with a 19-inch one-touch screen monitor for setting the press and controlling the running conditions. The idea is to eventually incorporate sensors that will anticipate mechanical problems and report these together with the location for remote diagnosis and preventive maintenance.