Midlands print business Ortek has become the first in the UK to retrofit an H-UV system to an existing Komori sheetfed press. Thanks to this investment, Ortek is planning to take advantage of opportunities in packaging, particularly in niche areas like rigid plastics, exploiting the capabilities offered by the press to deliver instantly dry sheets and to print on non absorbent substrates.
“I have been tracking developments in H-UV for some while,” says managing director Craig Morris. “And then last year I approached Komori.”
The company has a Lithrone LS640+C which is already fitted with the skeleton transfer cylinders that enable it to handle board and thicker materials. This machine was installed in 2010 and the conversion to H-UV took place over the new year break.
The press needed new rollers, blankets and press chemistry as well as the addition of the single-lamp H-UV system fitted in the delivery. There was a brief period after fitting while fine tuning to balance plate, fount and inks was carried out, Morris explains.
Since then the press has performed without missing a beat. “Everything has settled down and we are very pleased,” says Morris.
Komori handled the full installation and integration of the H-UV upgrade, supplying Toyo Inks and recommending the fount and consumables to use and other settings to the customer. It is the same all round approach as Komori provides to those investing in a new H-UV press. It also guarantees the subsequent performance of the machine.
As well as these alterations, Komori needed to make changes to the feeder and to the coating system to cope with the different materials that Ortek expects to put through the machine.
“We are trying to differentiate ourselves somewhat,” says Morris. “It is about ways that we can add value, printing on plastics for example. We also print a lot on uncoated where the H-UV helps us with fast turnarounds. There are so many positives to this system.
“We think we are well placed to move into the packaging market. It is potentially a large market for us.”
The company has carefully prepared for the expansion into packaging print. It is working towards the British Retail Consortium standards, used as an endorsement of quality for FMCG packaging. Once low migration inks become generally available, it will switch to these, says Morris.
It has invested in Brausse 1050 cutting and creasing platen and Forza 110 folder/gluer. There is also a litho laminator for sheets up to B1.
The target is shorter to medium run packaging in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other niche areas where printing on plastics, for example, can provide Ortek with a niche. There is PUR gluing to run on the folder gluer to cope with finishing plastics.
“We are right at the beginning of what will be a long journey,” says Morris. It is not starting from scratch as the company has printed gift cards on the litho press and has two large format inkjet machines to produce mock ups or short run corrugated boxes.
It also produces high end commercial work for a number of retail clients, so has a reputation and contacts with customers that are also buying packaging.
While this is the first retrofit that Komori has handled in the UK, there are presses in France, Italy, the Netherlands and the US that have had the H-UV enhancement. Most, says UK sheetfed sales director Steve Turner, have been at printers that have already installed a new H-UV press and wish to bring existing machines to the same level.
“Technically any age of press is suitable, but the most suitable are around three to seven years old,” he says. There will be no difference in how a new H-UV press and an enhanced machine will perform, Turner adds.
“If the customer focuses on end user needs, then it becomes part of the customer’s business strategy to add value to the print that it supplies and to enable presses to answer the company’s calls for new business developments, including those in new fields.”
And packaging is a perfect example of a new field. So far H-UV and other new generation drying technologies have made no impact on carton printing, perhaps because suitable inks were have not been available, perhaps because existing carton printers are comfortable with conventional UV curing. That is changing at Drupa.
Ortek's Lithrone is not just the first that has fitted the enhanced H-UV packaging, it is the UK’s first packaging press with H-UV. In neither category will it be the last.