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Presses Boost Productivity

With global headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, and more than 20,000 employees worldwide, Tetra Pak is one of the world's largest suppliers of packaging systems for milk, fruit juices and drinks, and many other products. Best known for its aseptic processing and packaging systems, Tetra Pak also is among the top producers of gabletop milk and juice cartons in the US.

Meeting the Requirements of Many
When the Vancouver, WA, div. of Tetra Pak began the process of purchasing a new sheet-fed press, it was understood the final decision would be made jointly by the press operators and the management team, recalls Mike Bertolino, projects manager. Staffed by 155 employees, the Vancouver plant produces and ships more than 1 billion packages a year. Bertolino knew they had found a winner when they saw the ease with which the Mitsubishi Model 3FC folding carton press handled packaging board.

“We wanted a press that could produce 13,000 sheets per hour, require less time to makeready jobs, and accommodate a lot of hard work over the long haul,” says Bertolino. “The Mitsubishi press satisfied everyone's requirements. Compared to other equipment, it provides greater flexibility.”

Tetra Pak installed the seven-color, 40-in. Model 3FC with a backprinting unit and a full interstation ultraviolet-curing system. The highly automated press replaced an older four-color machine.

Tetra Pak's new press is engineered for virtually markless printing on boardstock, even at top operating speeds. The double-size impression cylinders and skeleton transfer cylinders reportedly reduce the overall number of transfer points, and the double-size design is said to ensure smooth sheet transfer, eliminating traditional transfer problems such as marking and smearing.

In addition, the press incorporates a number of features designed for fast makeready, including remote control of frontlay register, an ink clutch remote-control system, and remote-controlled adjustment of oscillating roller dead point. The Centralized Operator MakeReady and Control (COMRAC) system is standard. It allows operators to direct and monitor all key press functions from the computerized console.

According to Bertolino, Tetra Pak's press operators especially like the multi-mode dampening system. “The three-in-one dampening system allows operators to control the ink density for printing images by just changing the dampening position,” he explains. “The appropriate mode can be set for every unit color, based on whether the image requires light, medium, or heavy ink coverage. Our operators love the flexibility this gives them to handle the wide variety of designs we print. They simply rave about it.”

Tetra Pak also outfitted the press with Mitsubishi's Delta dampening system, which is said to maintain a uniform application of dampening solution automatically and remove debris from the printing plate to provide high quality, hickey-free printing. The backprinting unit is another feature Tetra Pak says it has come to appreciate. Located after the final printing unit, it is used to apply a special coating to the bottom of the sheet after the top side has been printed fully.

“Because we aren't printing with conventional ink on the backside unit, the location of the unit is very important for adequate drying time,” says Bertolino. “Its location at the end of the press prevents the normal printing of the sheet from being compromised. It is a perfect piece of equipment for our unique printing requirements, and we're elated with its performance.”

Bertolino adds Mitsubishi took extra measures to ensure every aspect of the press functioned properly. “This is one sweet machine. It features robust systems and heavy-duty construction. It will definitely satisfy all of our requirements for a long time to come.”

Continuity Means Reliability
Also experiencing success with the Model 3FC sheet-fed press is All Packaging Co., a fast-growing package printer in Aurora, CO.

The privately owned company was established in 1950 and is operating in a single 65,000-sq-ft facility with fully equipped prepress and bindery departments. Running two production shifts six days a week, the 70-employee company specializes in the type of retail folding cartons commonly found in grocery stores and pharmacies. Press runs vary from 1,000-250,000 sheets.

The company recently upgraded its pressroom to include the Model 3FC press with UV-curing units. This is the second Mitsubishi press for the company — it is paired with a six-color, 40-in. press All Packaging purchased a few years ago.

“Reliability is what first attracted us to Mitsubishi presses,” says Kenneth Pepper, president of All Packaging. “We haven't been disappointed with our decision, nor have we had any complaints from our press operators. In the three years the first Mitsubishi press has been in operation, we've experienced three hours of unscheduled downtime. There is a definite continuity in operating presses from the same manufacturer.”

The press not only gives All Packaging increased capacity but also provides more flexibility, according to Pepper. “This unit features automated plate hangers, which cut makeready times,” he explains. “It has a wider stock range than our first Mitsubishi press. We can print up to 34-point packaging board, compared to the 28-point board we had been running. The UV-curing system supports the use of different coatings and allows us to print on different substrates like foil and PET.”

The press also features blanket washer systems, a multi-zone temperature control system, and remote-controlled adjustment of oscillating roller dead point to correct for variation in ink density. An ink clutch remote-control system eliminates the pre-start task of cleaning and lubricating unused units. Adjustments for stock thickness and size, cleaning blanket cylinders, and washup of ink rollers are completed in about one-third the normal makeready, All Packaging notes.

“We've been very happy with the results we've seen with the Mitsubishi presses,” says Pepper.

He adds, “All Packaging has grown by 25% in each of the past two years. We take care of our customers; that helps keep us out in front of our competition. And that's where we want to continue to be.”

Tetra Pak
1616 W. 31st St.,
Vancouver, WA 98660;

All Packaging Co.
14806 E. Thirty-Third Pl.,
Aurora, CO 80011;

Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses, Lincolnshire, IL; 847/634-9100;

Rollem Insignia6 Flexo-Magnetic Die Cutter runs inline w/ Chameleon folder/gluer

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