Eminence Business Media

Eminence Business Media

Monday, October 27, 2014

Further laser engraving innovations to come before drupa 2016

HELL Gravure Systems GmbH & Co. KG in Kiel, a Heliograph Holding company, will be launching further product innovations in the field of direct laser engraving in the period leading up to drupa 2016. Dualbeam technology will soon be available for the Cellaxy laser engraving system for gravure form production. This high-speed dual-beam engraving technology is already available for the existing S1300 and S1700 PremiumSetter models for flexographic printing. The third model in the PremiumSetter series, the S3000, will also be launched before drupa and will have up to four laser  sources.

15 years of laser expertise
HELL has been supplying the market with highly sophisticated laser technologies for 15 years. Having previously focused exclusively on manufacturing electromechanical engraving for rotogravure printing, the Kiel-based company moved into the flexographic printing market in 2000 with the HelioFlex series for CtP laser imaging of photopolymer forms. Launched in 2005, the Cellaxy enables gravure customers to use single-pass or multipass laser engraving on a variety of metals. The first PremiumSetter for direct laser engraving of elastomer flexographic printing forms followed in 2006. Optics and high-power lasers have now also become a fundamental part of the company’s core knowhow.

Maintenance-free high-power fiber laser with high-tech optical head
Fiber laser technology is the key component of both the Cellaxy and the PremiumSetter series. It is ideal for high-precision applications at high engraving speeds. HELL took this technology to a whole new level in a joint development with laser manufacturer IPG, delivering the ultimate in beam quality and stability for precise direct engraving of gravure, embossing, and flexographic forms.

The CW (continuous wave) fiber laser emits an unpulsed (i.e. continuous) laser beam – this is vital for highly productive laser engraving. The wavelength of 1070 nm lies in the infrared range and the focused beam supplies the energy required to remove the material with absolute precision. With a 600 W beam, the IPG fiber laser is one of the most powerful in its class.

The exit developed jointly with IPG and the latest-generation maintenance-free optical head specially designed by HELL get the very best out of the fiber laser. The high-quality components and the optimum optical setup complete with water cooling ensure excellent beam stability over the entire engraving time. This means that the optical system’s lenses are completely stable despite having a high-energy beam passing through them. Consequently, beam focusing and thus spot size remain constant under all conditions. What’s more, a new kind of plug & play interface between exit and optical head results in an exceptionally service-friendly system.

The Twain principle of equipping the direct engraving system with a second optical head enables a further doubling of the production speed. It consists of two optical heads splitting the layout across the cylinder. In the PremiumSetter S3000, the four-beam option will consist of two optical heads (each on its own laser carriage) with two laser beams each.

Depending on the material, the 600 W fiber laser engraves an area of 0.37 to 0.6 m⇢/h. The productivity is correspondingly higher with two beams (0.74 to 1.2 m⇢/h at 1200 W) and four beams (1.48 to 2.4 m⇢/h at 2400 W). These figures are pure engraving speed without using the FastForward functions that additionally enhance the machine performance.

PremiumSetter S3000 development project
The PremiumSetter S3000 will set new standards in direct engraving for high-quality flexographic printing and will outperform all other direct engraving machines. With up to four laser sources, resulting in a total output of 2400 W, the S3000 will engrave a far larger format. It will support printing form widths of up to 3000 mm – as the name suggests – and printing form circumferences of up to 1400 mm. Users will benefit from HELL’s in-house synergies between gravure and flexographic printing – not only in terms of optics and laser, but also with regard to hardware. The machine bed, linear drive, bearing blocks, automatic hood, and Twain principle are today used in other HELL products, while the laser, optics, electronic control system, software, job ticket workflow, brush, suction device, and filter technology are all tried-and-tested components of the S1700.

HELL Gravure Systems GmbH & Co. KG., Kiel (Germany) develops, produces, and sells systems and solutions for flexographic and gravure printing form manufacture throughout the world. HELL products ensure maximum durability and reliability – from mechanical engineering and software to professional application support, all components come from an expert source. Again and again, the ongoing exchange of information with users and the company’s great affinity with innovations produce outstanding product developments. Implementing customer oriented solutions is always a key focus.