With greater demand for shorter run lengths in flexography, there comes the need for accuracy and efficiency upstream from the press. Makereadies must be as quick as possible thus, plate mounting becomes a critical offline activity for flexographic printing—and, an even more significant tool if done automatically. An excellent mounting precision reduces the time needed to mount plates and assures repeatable jobs avoiding mistakes in mounting. The plate mounter SOMA S-Mount is an exemple.
The best jobs for automatic mounting are short runs, those requiring quick mounting time and those that utilize expanded gamut printing. Printing with additional process colors is not even possible without exceptional registration.
It is not unusual to install an automatic plate mounter and double the output of sleeves if compared to a manual version: a manual plate mounter can take several minutes per color, to mount a plate on a sleeve, S-Mount needs only 45 seconds to guarantee a precision of +/- 5 micron.
The efficiencies of an automatic mounter’s precision are also found on the press. There is virtually no press downtime caused by improper mounting of the printing plate. So, the overall press efficiency increases. Because an automatic mounter places every plate in register, makereadies are faster.
The SOMA S-Mount: An advanced automated plate mounting system
SOMA has responded to increasing demands for productivity, short runs and greater accuracy with our next-generation S-Mount plate mounter.
The S-Mount plate mounter offers a significant operator ease of use: the accurate and repeatable perfect registration makes it easier to set the register when the sleeve is placed into the press. Furthermore, thanks to IRIS technology, it is possible to set register and pressures on the SOMA Optima printing machine in a completely automatic way, without any need for manual intervention by the operator.
Another point that distinguishes S-Mount is its modularity and scalability: S-Mount offers three different levels of automation, S-Mount M (manual), S-Mount A (automatic) and S-Mount FA (full automatic). A converter who, due to economic needs, does not have a sufficient budget to immediately invest in an automatic mounting plate, can opt for the M version and subsequently upgrade to version A or FA without the need to purchase a new mounting plate. This guarantees considerable flexibility and above all important economic savings.
The use of new generation optics, high resolution cameras and an innovative visual recognition software, allows to easily obtain a precise and repeatable mounting over time. The positioning system based on servomotors guarantees high precision accuracy and S-Mount quickly recognizes the position of the marks: the operator in fact “tells” the plate mounter what to look for (a micro dot, a cross or any specific mounting mark) and where to mount the plate and the machine does the rest.
Best of all, it is very simple and intuitive to operate the S-Mount. The device performs a series of calibrations on its own to ensure a constant level of accuracy and reliability. If an unexpected situation occurs in the mounting process, the operator is notified immediately and can easily solve the problem. Everyone can adjust the settings according to their requirements. Defining a new job itself has never been easier.
There is a lot of data that can be shared between software and hardware systems, moving job and registration data from step and repeat prepress systems to mounters and, ultimately, other information to the press. Key parameters, such as changeover information, plate topography measurements, register measurements and press energy consumption are just some of the data being communicated. SOMA is preparing “intelligent” flexographic process features coming soon, starting with its own cloud-based network—the SOMA’s S-Cloud—to share an impressive amount of data between prepress, mounting, printing, as well as slitters and laminators.
So, in summary, what makes the SOMA S-Mount a great choice? Actually, there are a number of reasons which are explained by Stefano Squarcina, Global Sales & Marketing director and Matteo Melegatti, Sales Area Manager Italy:
• It is fast: Where quick turnarounds are critical, the S-Mount dramatically accelerates the make-ready time on the press.
When mounting plates automatically, it can take approximately 45 seconds per plate. The operator can do something else: prepare additional plates, tape, or create job specifications for a new job.
• It is versatile: It can also mount plates on machines with different core diameters and sleeve widths, and adapts to different print setting systems
• It communicates well: If you invest in an OPTIMA press, you get all the benefits of SOMA Intelligent Automation. The S-Mount connection to the OPTIMA press ensures the easy transfer of job recipe data—communicating all of the job details—offering further intelligent functions unique in the market. S-Mount is also connected to our S-Cloud Solution, where it will be possible to monitor the load of the machine online, prepare recipes from the office, or order spare parts.
• It is cost-effective: You can initially invest in an S-Mount for manual plate mounting and, as your business grows, upgrade to full automation.
• ROI: A good, automatic mounter can easily deliver an attractive ROI., because an automatic mounting machine can reduce makeready times when setting a job up on press, it delivers added capacity and completes jobs faster.
So, when considering a new press, it’s important to remember that plate mounting becomes a critical offline activity for flexographic printing.