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RAKO-Etiketten ramps up narrow-web rotary screen productivity with third SPGPrints RotaLEN® laser engraver

RAKO-Etiketten, one of Europe's leading suppliers of self-adhesive labels, has installed its third SPGPrints RotaLEN® laser engraver for digital imaging of nickel rotary screens. The investment will enable the German converter to meet the increased demand for screen printing jobs and maintain throughput levels averaging 55 cylinders per day.

The RotaLEN engraver features a CO2 laser that ablates the emulsion of the screen cylinder in a one-step dry and fully digital process. The workflow, which uses no chemicals, film or water, allows screens to be imaged and prepared for production within one hour.

Installed in 2005 and 2007, the two existing engravers have been dedicated to imaging reusable seamless nickel RotaMesh® and RotaPlate® screens, to meet the demand for features such as tactile varnishes, the no-label look and vivid colours.

However, as Stefan Behrens, head of pre-print at RAKO-Etiketten explains, the demand required further investments: “Between 2010 and 2015, we experienced a 30 percent leap in throughput to 18,000 screen engraving jobs a year. On one level, this was driven by the growth of our rotary screen business: customers increasingly recognise the importance of the process for communicating a cosmetics brand’s luxury promise, and for achieving high point-of-sale impact. Also, customers have been moving to shorter, more frequent repeat deliveries, instead of placing large, single orders.”

“We’ve succeeded in meeting the quality and high volume expectations thanks to SPGPrints’ RotaLEN technology, with its precision and simple, clean workflow. We had no hesitation in choosing RotaLEN again, on the basis of the existing engraver performance, the long life of the screens and the outstanding support we have had from the manufacturer.”

In most cases, RAKO offers rotary screen in combination with flexo or offset, via SPGPrints’ Rotary Screen Integration® modules that accommodate the nickel screens. These provide a single-pass solution for applying the opaque white when creating the no-label look, and for varnishes between 12 and 200 micron thickness. Varnishes are an effective way of adding vividness to underlying graphics, such as an icon or a band name. RAKO has formulated its own ‘High & Clear’ varnish that uses a special coating medium to offer clarity and the haptic effect.

Growth in rotary screen has also been driven by the need for more sophisticated labels that require a combination of screen effects, with some presses featuring four rotary screen printing stations.

SPGPrints’ nickel screens have the strength to maintain print stability above 100m/min and the resilience to be reused, thereby saving consumable costs and time, especially when repeat orders are needed. On average, RAKO has about 700 imaged cylinders, ready for immediate recall.

“We appreciate the support provided by the laser engraving technical team at SPGPrints Austria. They have always been available at short notice to assist with troubleshooting or technical expertise. We see them as close partners in this venture,” says Mr. Behrens.