The REVO Master Class Open House which took place from 29th November to 1st December 2016 at the Competence Center of Bobst Firenze, Italy, succeeded in being a very dynamic event rich in interaction and networking opportunities for the 322 people that attended it over the three days and six sessions. Printers and converters of flexible packaging, folding cartons and labels made the journey to attend a workshop which would provide an in-depth knowledge of REVO technology, whilst also seeing it in action during actual printing demonstrations.
The event also marked the start of REVO Master Certification. By taking part in the Master Classes and demo tracks, participants in the event completed the first step and received the REVO Silver badge, the first of three certificates – Silver, Gold and Platinum – that will lead to REVO Master certification. The program will be made available next year by the REVO Team during dedicated events held at different locations worldwide.
The REVO offering to the packaging industry is truly unique. It is a process that flows from pre-press through to print production; and summing up the highlights of the demonstrations shown on two BOBST inline flexo presses makes impressive reading, demonstrating the reliability and unique quality of the REVO Digital Flexo workflow:
- Printing of four different jobs on film and carton substrates using 16 different Pantone colors in total, without ever changing the ink in the print units or the anilox rollers
- Job changes automatically performed in one minute, with the new job in register after less than 20 meters of waste
- In each of the four jobs all the Pantone colors showed a Delta-E color accuracy of less than 2.0, notwithstanding the different physical properties and level of absorption of the 38 micron unsupported polypropylene and the 240 gsm light board substrates used in the demo runs.
What lies behind such impressive performance is the determination of the companies that, since 2013, have made up the REVO technology team to push the flexo process beyond its current limitations: pooling together their know-how and resources to develop a new reliable and predictable process. All the REVO Team partners – Americk Packaging, Apex International, AVT, BOBST, DuPont, Esko, Flint Group, X-Rite PANTONE and UPM Raflatac – were present in numbers at the event to share their know-how and the specifics of their contribution to the development of the process, both in the Master Classes and during one to one and small group discussions with event participants.
Let’s look in detail at the REVO Master Class Open House – which comprised four classes plus two demo tracks.
The Master Class sessions opened with the testimonial of converting company Americk Packaging relayed by Daragh Whelan, Operations Technical Director of their Haverill site, where the REVO Digital Flexo project was first implemented three years ago on two BOBST inline flexo presses. Mr Whelan talked the audience through the delights and difficulties of being a forerunner in the introduction of a new kind of flexo process which makes the best use of digital technology not as a printing method but to digitize the workflow and make the press fully automated while delivering a print quality of 90Lcm (223 LPi). “The REVO technology has added value to our production whilst increasing run time and decreasing waste. The fact that our lead time has halved since, puts a very strong case for having adopted the technology and for being a part of its future development.”
Matteo Cardinotti, Managing Director of Bobst Firenze led an open discussion about REVO profitability vs conventional printing, highlighting the elements that are instrumental in increasing the overall economic performance of the REVO production process and stressing the high level of profitability even for below 500 linear meter run production, irrespective of the application.
In the third session, Dan Pulling, EMEA Business Development Manager at Esko and Jan Scharfenberg, Technical Manager EMEA at DuPont Advanced Printing unraveled all the steps of the pre-press process required to create the ECG color separation.
“Esko is fully behind this project which offers printers confidence in ensuring their customers quality consistency and repeatability of the final product. Extended Color Gamut will ultimately change the way converters will print packaging in the future. And early adopters are already starting to take advantage of ECG workflow. Now, with the REVO Academy available to all the converters worldwide, adoption of ECG will be easier and faster,” said Dan Pulling.
Jan Scharfenberg added: “The REVO Academy is a good opportunity to make converters successful in adopting the REVO technology. By using Fast Easy plates, in combination with the REVO technologies, the time from file to printing is tremendously reduced, yet with exceptional print quality, making flexo a possible alternative vs digital printing and for just-in-time production.”
The last class session tackled the very topical issue of the use of UV inks and their safety in flexible packaging applications for food. Niklas Olsson, Global Brand Manager NW at Flint Group, led this session showing data on how the new generation of low migration UV flexo inks integrated into the REVO process is compliant with even the most stringent regulations for food contact material compliance.
“There is still some misconception relating to the safety of UV inks in food packaging which has no reason to be and should be dispelled because, from a compliance point of view, they pass all the safety tests, whilst providing the additional benefits of consistent ink transfer and physical properties,“ stressed Niklas Olsson.
Providing an additional safety guarantee for UV flexo is the BOBST certified UV Track system which BOBST narrow- and mid-web inline flexo presses can be equipped with. This system measures the UV dose and tracks the safety of every printed meter of substrate so, in combination with low migration inks, delivers full compliance in food packaging applications. This is a unique feature of energy curable inks compared to solvent- and water-based inks: continuous safety vs random safety traceability. Only with UV and EB curing can each single printed meter of substrate be safety certified.
Track 1 and Track 2 demonstrations followed the workshop sessions.
The REVO technology printing demonstrations were carried out using a BOBST M6 UV flexo inline press which made a great show of the quality and advantages of Digital Flexo technology. The line was equipped with all the technologies that together concur to make the Digital Flexo process developed by the REVO partners: patented GTT anilox rollers by Apex International provided extremely consistent ink laydown for absolute color consistency; press management and quality control systems by AVT guaranteed digital control of quality and on-the-fly adjustment capabilities; flexo plates by DuPont were able to print with unprecedented 90 lines/cm print quality, on both film and carton substrates; ECG color separation software and Flexo Imaging hardware by Esko made the color matching a “digital” process no longer dependent entirely on the skills of press operators; flexo inks by Flint Group provided fully food compatible printed samples; a color measurement and standard system by X-Rite PANTONE was able to show that the 16 pantone colors which were measured were all below the 2 Delta-E threshold which is considered acceptable by most global brand owners.
Attendees could also visit the REVO Academy, experiencing the fully operational REVO plate manufacturing process using Esko prepress & proofing solutions, the Esko CDI Spark 4835 Flexo Plate Imaging device plus UV Exposure and Fast Plate processing provided by DuPont. The REVO Academy allows converters to come to Bobst Firenze with a new file, and in less than 2 hours be able to print the new job on the press, including plate making, plate mounting and press set-up. There is no need to specify special Pantone inks: with REVO Technology the accurate color matching is achieved by Esko Equinox pre-press software for Extended Gamut Printing. REVO partners advise that converters worldwide can use the REVO Academy for tests and for full “turn-key” REVO training.
Substrate flexibility being another of the many advantages of the M6 press and of the REVO technologies, the demonstrations alternated between printing a flexible packaging job on 38 micron unsupported polypropylene in the morning and a folding carton job on 240 gsm light board in the afternoon. Noteworthy was the fact that, irrespective of the specifics of the physical properties of the two substrates in terms of absorption, for both jobs the Pantone colors showed a Delta-E color accuracy of below 2.0.
With reference to printing substrates, Marko Tiainen, Business Segment Manager, UPM Raflatac said “We are completing the REVO validation of the UPM substrates so that they can all become available world-wide.”
Ian Trevor Pike, Packaging Product Portfolio Manager at X-Rite PANTONE said “The REVO approach to color management is scientific in providing the color consistency and repeatability that the Extended Color Gamut system can guarantee through the highly important step of color communication and measurement and through the control products which PANTONE contributes to the REVO ECG system.”
Commenting on the flawless performance of the M6 demonstration, AVT’s Business Development Director, David Naisby said “We are delighted to see the results of the joint BOBST and AVT Helios Turbo HD and SpectraLab in line spectrophotometer integration on the M6 Digital Flexo press. AVT within the REVO process delivers workflow automation of both color, register and print quality control which results in a turnkey solution for REVO printers”.
Nick Harvey, Technical Director Apex Printing Solutions EMEA, Apex Europe, is already geared up to the next developments for the REVO Technology Team “After narrow-web, mid-web and UV ink printing, we are looking at the exciting possibility of extending the REVO Anilox technology to mid-web and wide-web flexible packaging applications using solvent-based and water-based inks.”
“REVO not only enables users to achieve high 90Lcm print quality, almost three-dimensional visual depth and contrast of the printed images, and to print consistently repeatable quality which can be digitally measured and validated by global digital quality standards, it also extends the quality performance to other parameters like consistency, repeatability and predictability that are part of the production process needed to achieve an extraordinary level of overall operational efficiency,” concluded Federico D’Annunzio, Strategic Products Marketing Director of BOBST Business Unit Web-fed.
“Because it delivers the same performance across all market sectors, irrespective of run lengths, substrates or applications, the appeal of the REVO Digital Flexo technology is truly universal,” said Dan Pulling of Esko. “This was reflected by the fact that the participants in the Master Class Open House were converters of all sizes, from large multinational corporations to individual family-owned operations.”
Matteo Cardinotti, Managing Director of Bobst Firenze concluded: “We actually sold or finalized the sales of presses equipped with the REVO Digital Flexo technology at the event, which is a very telling comment on the success of this event”.