Expansion in specific packaging markets prompted the OPM Group to install a seven-unit Nilpeter FA-4 UV-Flexo press at its main plant in Keighley, West Yorkshire. It has, however, gone several stages further by becoming the first UK label converter to adopt Nilpeter's new CLEANINKING anilox system. Furthermore, it is also the first UK label converter to use Kodak's Spotless Flexographic Solution, a software package integrated with its Prinergy system designed to work with Kodak Flexcel NX plates.
The independent OPM Group was established nearly 40 years ago and now has around 60 employees. Current group production divides roughly 50/50 between flexible packaging and label products. Besides commodity food and beverage labels, the company develops specific added-value markets, such as the automotive, security, data processing and industrial market sectors.
A new project involves producing packaging products, including laminates for pouches and sachets, with low migration properties using dedicated UV-cured inks.
The new servo-driven FA-4 has a web width of 420 mm (16.5 inches) and top speed of 175 m/minute (575 feet/minute). OPM's version is fitted with the new energy-saving MBS-6 lamp modules from IST Metz. The press replaces an existing Nilpeter press and complements a nine-unit FA-4 installed two years ago at OPM Flexibles. Formed eleven years ago as separate division, it is located outside nearby Bradford. This plant also includes a servo-driven FA-3300S and an FA-3300, both with nine UV-Flexo units. The group has a total of six Nilpeter presses.
OPM and its repro partner, Reproflex3, were the UK beta testers for Kodak's Spotless colour management software. It accurately predicts spot colour requirements to help reduce press downtime, based on Delta E Value 1 to calculate highlight and shadow colour differences.
Spotless leverages the extended colour gamut of the Flexcel NX plates. OPM can therefore obtain 95 per cent of all Pantone colours from CMYK, which meant it could specify seven flexo print units for its latest FA-4, whereas nine were required before.
'One of our objectives in testing the system was to achieve accurate spot colours based on constant density and constant dot gain. We wanted to achieve absolute repeatability at print speeds of 120 m/minute or so', said Chris Ellison, managing director. He added that the exercise also introduced another dimension: 'With high press speeds there is often the risk of slight plate lifting. You can overcome it with higher plate press pressures, but you lose repeatability.
This factor was among the issues which led the company to adopt Nilpeter's CLEANINKING anilox system, launched at the recent Labelexpo Europe. It features an open/close doctor blade chamber with two blades in contact with the anilox roll. A major innovation is the Dynamic Print Adjustment, which applies pressure – measured in microns – to the impression cylinder acting against the substrate and anilox roll. The system therefore ensures constant overall inking, so avoiding ink density problems with solids even when plate lifting occurs. As a sealed anilox system, ink supply can remain in the press or stored in the chamber off-press. This arrangement facilitates easier job changes; only the plates are changed.
'Today's trading conditions demand that converters like us must have the right kind of equipment to achieve a Lean Manufacturing approach to improving margins. Our latest FA-4 setup represents a phenomenal piece of technology in this respect. We can achieve a near offset standard of printing, aided by 275 line/inch screen counts from the Flexcel NX plates, at relatively high press speeds. The press control system allows us to recall all settings covering all functions, which makes the production of repeat jobs more efficient', Mr Ellison adds.