06 September 2018 Finishing

Swiss movement to automation

Hunkeler is leading the way to automation of webfed finishing processes to keep pace with developments in digital printing presses.

Hunkeler has long been synonymous with automated paper handling. The Swiss company can take a reel of paper and twist it, chop it, fold it and produce any number of direct mail pieces and books without any other intervention.

The state of the art is on display every other year at the Hunkeler Innovation Days which has made Lucerne in February a place of pilgrimage for any printer running an inkjet web press. As this kind of printing has evolved away from mono transactional documents produced on laser printers to full colour inkjet produced at high speed for books, mailers and customised and personalised catalogues, the Hunkeler Innovation Days has become the sort of must attend event that exhibition organisers dream of.

Further progress towards Industry 4.0 operation and integration with other suppliers is very much on the cards to create end to end lines which start with a press or reel of paper and end up with a finished book. At the HID event 18 months ago, a Hunkeler Bookline was creating book blocks which a robot arm then picked up and loaded to a Muller Martini Vareo binder and then to an Infinitrim to cope with books of changeable thickness, format and pagination.

That demonstration has now evolved into a seamless production line that is headed to a company in Asia says Robin Brown, national sales manager of Friedheim International’s digital solutions division. The Bookline receives data from the inkjet press to communicate what the next book in the sequence is. The Bookline line will create the book block to that specification, triggered by printed start and finish marks and validated if necessary by camera inspection.

The finished block is stacked in batches of the same format until called off by the binder when the stack is decollated to deliver one block at a time to the binder. “The binder knows what’s coming down the line and can adjust automatically,” says Brown.

The Vareo can adjust creasing wheels for the cover feeder on the fly and match covers to the block. It is tipped out and travels to the Muller Martini Infinitrim trimming robot which takes off any excess at top bottom and foredge to leave a completed book. Notification that the book has been completed is sent to the central control hub to alert a customer or the delivery company taking the book from printer to its next destination. Such a line will require minimal intervention, certainly there will be no need to make adjustments for the different sized products that may follow each other.

A similar system is already in place at Printondemand Worldwide where Hunkeler’s DynaCut system cuts the successive pages to format to avoid waste that is created when every page is deemed to be A4 in size.

The UK book printer lacks the link between printed and glued book block and the binder/trimmer combination. It is however running inline to the Screen Truepress Jet 520HD.

Hunkeler can offer similar seamless production for functional print, whether invoices and statements or the sort of mailing that needs complete verification. In this case, Brown explains, each page is checked to ensure that the correct information has been printed. Should one letter in the middle of the printed reel be identified as deficient, this is spotted on the finishing line and rejected before reaching the envelope and once rejected, a replacement from the printer is ordered automatically. Every action is recorded for an audit file to prove what has been done, again with full automation. If required a camera system can take an image of every passing page, though at a relatively low resolution. This will be back up to the barcode identification that is in place.

Now says Brown, Hunkeler is looking at the cut sheet digital market. It has developed a device to fold, trim and perforate a printed sheet to work inline with the digital press. A first version of this is at Canon’s Poing operation working with the Canon i300 sheetfed inkjet press. It is the first of a new line of products that takes automated paper handing into a new arena.

Further developments in this area, as part of the Industry 4.0 work, can be expected at the next Hunkeler Innovation Days says Brown. “There is some interesting stuff coming up at the next Hunkeler innovation Days that I know will cause a bit of a stir.” What it is neither Brown nor anyone linked to Hunkeler is saying at this point.

Gareth Ward

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Book blocks can be of variable format and thickness for the binder. At the Hunkeler Innovation Days event 18 months ago, a Bookline was creating book blocks which a robot arm then picked up and loaded to a Muller Martini Vareo binder, and then to an Infinitrim to cope with books of changeable thickness, format and pagination.

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