Steinemann Technology at drupa 2012

Steinemann Technology has specifically adapted its Lotus SF laminating system for processing ultra-thin and ecologically degradable laminating films made of renewable raw materials / Energy-efficient laminating system with low polyurethane adhesive consumption

Under the motto 'Attract new customers', Steinemann Technology will be using its stand in Hall 3 (E36) at drupa 2012 to present a wide range of folding boxes laminated with different types of film. Regardless of whether innovative film types made of renewable raw materials or ultra-thin PET films are used – the specially adapted, fully automatic Lotus SF laminating system ensures that customers of the machine manufacturer from St. Gallen in Switzerland are equipped to face future market demands. All the more so because the Lotus SF is characterised by high energy efficiency and particularly economical adhesive consumption, this significantly reducing the consumption of resources when laminating packagings and other print products. Moreover, this laminating system operates with solvent-free polyurethane adhesive. In this way, the fulfilment of future market demands goes hand-in-hand with ecological and economic advantages with the Lotus SF. These are nowadays decisive criteria – after all, more and more print buyers pay attention to all these factors when selecting their print providers today.

Laminating films can essentially be divided into two categories: films made from crude oil continue to be used for the majority of applications. Oil is a resource that is only available in limited quantities in nature. Probably the most widely used laminating films made from finite resources are OPP (oriented polypropylene) and PET (polyester) films, which have so far mainly been used in thicknesses of 12 to 25 µm. Thanks to new extrusion and finishing methods, these films can today be produced in much thinner versions. PET films are already available on the market in thicknesses of just 6 µm, and OPP films in thicknesses of 8 µm. Consequently, savings of between 30 and 50 percent on materials will in future be possible when laminating print products, this significantly improving the eco-balance of the end-products.

The second category consists of laminating films made of renewable raw materials. These so-called 'biofilms' are manufactured from starch-containing products or cellulose. In addition to which, they are compostable and biodegradable. Bioplastics are characterised by excellent gloss, high stiffness, a soft feel and flexible extensibility. They provide a dependable aroma barrier and, in some cases, even a good barrier against mineral oil residues. The films are easy to print and can be bonded on both sides. The suppliers optionally offer them in highly transparent, glossy, matt, metallised or textured versions. The trend is foreseeable: the market share of these environmentally friendly biofilms will continue to increase steadily.

As a general rule, standard laminating systems are incapable of efficiently processing either ultra-thin, conventional films or biofilms made of renewable raw materials. The laminating process requires various technical adaptations in order to ensure high productivity and great reliability, together with perfect laminating results, when processing the film types of the future. Based on exhaustive test series using ultra-thin films and biofilms, Steinemann Technology has modified the Lotus SF sheet-to-sheet laminating system to cater to the new demands. A new development is an additional cutting aid for the 'Hot Knife' cutter, a Steinemann Technology development that is the only one of its kind on the market. This innovative dual sheet separating system reliably cuts even the thinnest of materials at very high machine speeds of up to 10,000 sheets per hour. Above and beyond this, the film tension control has also been optimised – an indispensable necessity for high laminating speeds and a reliable process.

As a result, the Lotus SF can now process an even wider range of films. At drupa 2012, Steinemann Technology will be exhibiting this future-oriented system for sheet formats up to 102 x 142 cm with a working height of 1,450 mm, specifically for use in folding-box production.

"Resource consumption is unavoidable in production processes. The decisive question is what quantities are used, and of which resources. True to the motto 'Conserve limited resources – Promote renewable resources', Steinemann Technology has for a long time been pursuing the aim of minimising the use of energy and raw materials in print finishing to the greatest possible degree. We consistently gear both our newly developed production systems and improvements of our existing products to the latest consumables and processes," explains Jürg Spittler, Sales Graphic at Steinemann Technology. He says the laminating process using ultra-thin films and biofilms is a breakthrough, particularly from the ecological point of view. "The sample folding boxes we'll be presenting at drupa will for the first time give our visitors the chance to personally and directly compare the haptic properties and effect of different film types. They offer print providers and finishers a wide variety of opportunities to address and convince new customer groups. In addition to which, they particularly give manufacturers of branded goods the chance to also reposition their products via the packagings. That's a welcome opportunity in the tough battle for customers."