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Web-Fed Screen Printing

(December 1999) posted on Mon Dec 13, 1999

The author explains how automation and flexibility make web technology a competitive option.

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By Peter Max Weber

The use of leader web material (which works much like the leader in a roll of film for your camera) is another important way of cutting the overall setup time for web screen-printing lines. For each web screen-printing or finishing line, inexpensive but stable and reusable web material is cut to the exact length from unwind to rewind station and is considered the "leader." Depending on production procedures, several of these leaders are cut to size for each web width category. The actual web printing material is spliced onto the end of the leader (web material and leader must be of the same width) and another leader is spliced to the web printing material at the end of the production run. This procedure saves costly web material, reduces run-in waste, and simplifies and reduces setup procedures considerably. Production flexibility

Designing a web production line is an exciting and very creative phase of entering web screen printing. In most cases, different processes such as screen printing and finishing should not be incorporated in one big line configuration. This would be an ideal approach if the finished product would always be processed in the same way--for example, screen printing four colors, laminating, diecutting, waste removal, slitting, edge trimming, and rewinding. If this job is all that has to be produced on that particular in-line configuration, then all processes can safely be incorporated into the same line.

However, in screen printing as we know it, this remains wishful thinking. Every day, printers face new production challenges that require intelligent production flexibility with the fastest possible output capacity.

Production flexibility can be achieved by standardization and implementation of strict scheduling procedures. The unsupported web-loop technology allows additional advantages in that respect:

1. Each module, whether it is designed for in- or off-line use, is self-contained and can be electronically incorporated into any line configuration.

2. This modular approach can be very effective when designing "custom tailored" web lines. The company's individual production requirements can already be considered in the designing phase of the web line.

3. After a company's product mix is clearly defined, selecting the appropriate screen-printing and/or finishing lines becomes easier.


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