General view of the BOBST gravure press in the Chiyoda Europa NV production plant
BOBST and Chiyoda Europa have a long-standing relationship in decorative printing. Their latest collaboration focuses on two large-scale R&D modernization and upgrade projects for two of Chiyoda’s installed gravure printing presses.
Based in Genk, Belgium, Chiyoda Europa NV, part of Chiyoda Gravure Corporation, headquartered in Japan, specializes in the manufacture of high-end decor and printed flexible materials that can be used for a wide range of decorative applications and suitable for a variety of technical supports. . These include laminate flooring, wall and ceiling panels, worktops and other applications for the furniture and interior/exterior decoration industries.
Chiyoda Europa controls the entire production process in-house: it develops substrate designs, has facilities for gravure cylinders and ink production, as well as a production hall equipped with seven printing lines. gravure printing, all supplied by BOBST.
Rotogravure is the technology of choice for the production of high-end decorative applications because it can meet specific application requirements. These include wide print widths, highly sensitive drying systems specially designed for handling substrates ranging from thin paper to PVC films, the highest print quality and sophisticated inking systems for optimum process consistency.
In 2021, BOBST completed the first of two projects: the modernization of one of Chiyoda Europa’s gravure presses. The project was to modernize the press in terms of automation and motorization, to make it more reliable and efficient, to limit downtime and to keep it at the peak of its productivity. The complete overhaul involved the replacement of a number of machine components, including all web handling motors and drive systems. It also involved the addition of a four-drum pre-conditioning group, with the aim of flattening and stabilizing the PVC film, the latter being an upgrade to ensure that the quality of the final product is always the better.
“We are very pleased with the way the BOBST team completed this project on schedule,” commented Guy Lambrichts and Kris Reynders, Maintenance Managers, Chiyoda. “It was not a foregone conclusion, given the added challenges of installing the new parts in the limited space available, and without increasing downtime and machine costs.”
The culmination of this project and the long-standing collaboration between the two companies in this specialized area of the printing industry gave confidence to a second R&D project, this time focusing on the press’s ability to handle new types of finishing of the final product.
Printed substrates for decorative applications come in a multitude of designs: from wood, stone or fabric reproductions to abstract designs. This, along with their durability, cost-effectiveness, and originality of design, make them popular as alternatives to more conventional decorating materials like veneer.
“As a processor, we must have the ability to meet the changing demands of increasing design varieties, complexity and substrate types, while maintaining the efficiency of our operation and the quality of our production,” explained Brittany Laing. , PhD, R&D Project Engineer at Chiyoda. “To do this, we need to add new processes and expand the technical capabilities of our equipment as needed, to ensure that we can meet all of our customers’ new product specifications and applications. »
This is the reason why Chiyoda and BOBST also worked on a technology update project for paper and PVC which was completed in early 2022 on another BOBST gravure printing line installed in the production plant. from Chiyoda Europa to Genk.
This was a project that was carried out on two parallel R&D tracks by BOBST and Chiyoda, who came together to build a solution that involves the development of a UV lacquering and varnishing unit designed to meet the specifications of Chiyoda’s heavyweight coating end product, in-line in the gravure press.
The Retrofit & Upgrade team at Bobst Italia, San Giorgio Monferrato, Italy, were excited about the scale of this project which involved a large web width machine – 2300mm – typical of decorative printing applications. This requires dedicated technical adaptations, such as calibrating the temperature on the tape during UV curing so as to avoid any elongation or distortion of the tape which would impact the quality of the output.
The possibility of testing and verifying the quality and effectiveness of it at each stage of its R&D development in the competence center and internal laboratory of Bobst Italia, in Italy, was instrumental in the completion of the project on time and in its success. The Competence Center, which is BOBST’s center of excellence for gravure, lamination and coating technologies, houses gravure printing lines, laminators as well as a pilot scale coating line. production equipped with nine different coating systems.
“It was a difficult project, but at BOBST we rise to the challenges and we know from our experience working alongside the R&D and technical team at Chiyoda Europa that together we could make it a success,” concluded Massimo Buttiero, Upgrade & Retrofit. Sales Director, Bobst Italy.