Mature yet innovative

15 June 2004

The gravure press manufacturers couldn't rest on their laurels pushing quality as the reason given to choose their process. After all flexography has spent the last decade developing the technologies to produce the level of quality acceptable to many brand owners today.

Although gravure is still seen by many of those brand owners as the Mercedes of processes (according to European Rotogravure Association research), if it was to see the "renaissance" claimed by the ERA, something more had to be added - the ability to offer gravure quality with efficient short run, quick change yet cost effective technology.

And that, if the developments seen at drupa prove successful in the market, is where we are today. Check out the new presses from Cerutti and Rotomec in the gravure report in this issue.

Other major developments covered feature gravure cylinders and engraving. Creo's partnership with Acigraf, which has resulted in the Exactus thermal gravure system, combines two mature technologies to provide significant cost reductions in the cylinder process, it is claimed. The system employs the same copper cylinders that gravure printers have used for decades, but they feature a special thermal resist material and are imaged by Creo's thermal laser imaging technology.

Hell used drupa for the world premiere of the prototype of a laser engraver that produces the gravure cells directly in a copper or chromium surface. Heart of the process is the newly developed laser, which provides the power density required to process a copper or chromium surface.

In another development TecnoPlas now operates a full scale operation to produce plastics cylinders from existing steel bases, which are coppered, chromed and engraved on conventional equipment (see feature in this issue).

Who knows, with all this innovation, we may see some of the flexo press manufacturers with experience of gravure beginning to take more than a passing interest in further developing their market?

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