Short Path to Versatility

While some converters have been reluctant to make major capital expenditures during what some have called the “Great Recession,” one Ohio-based label converter continues to invest in its future, most recently with the installation of a nine-color, 16-in. Gallus ECS 340 ultraviolet (UV) flexographic press. “We try not to think about it,” Curt Curran, VP of Stratus Group, says of the difficult economic environment. “We were already prepared to purchase the Gallus before the recession came.

“When we went to seven days around the clock in 2009, we knew that we had to make a move to grow our business in 2010. So when Gallus showed us this new machine, it didn't take us long to make a decision.”

Right Equipment for the Job

Established in 1992, the Stratus Group specializes in pharmaceutical, personal care, and beverage market packaging, as well as in several specialty applications. The Gallus 340 will enhance its ability to meet the diverse needs of those markets, says Curran.

“Our quality, service, and problem-solving skills — having the right capabilities for those three markets — is very important to our success,” he explains. “It can still be a challenge, but when you have good people and give them the right equipment to get the job done, it makes it easier to be successful. The new 340 can only help that.”

The press, which was installed in November 2009, allows virtually any combination of inks, adhesives, coatings, and substrates, with minimal setup and changeover times, without the use of tools. The Gallus ECS 340 is the third of Stratus's Gallus presses: a ten-color 410 was purchased in 2004 and an eight-color 280 was installed two years later.

The new ECS 340 is expandable and offers versatile substrate flexibility and minimal setup time due to its full servo drive integration. The press is also environmentally friendly, with UV drying that generates no exhaust.

“The 340 brings us additional capacity, which we needed,” explains Curran. “And then when you talk about the shorter web path that the 340 has and some of the unique features that Gallus put on this machine, I think it was a no-brainer for us to put this into our arsenal.”

The very short 1.1-m web path of the Gallus 340 offers a number of benefits, including an extremely efficient workflow, according to Curran, and a print image that is not altered when speeds are changed, thus ensuring the consistently high quality of print results.

Gallus's productivity elements were used in the development of this press for the Stratus Group. For example, plate cylinders and anilox rollers are designed as sleeves, thus enabling very fast job changeovers. This benefit is supplemented by the chambered blade system, so inks can be changed, says Curran, in next to no time.

The press, which comes with full servo drive technology, also is equipped with cooled impression cylinders. This feature is said to lead to excellent substrate flexibility.

Curran explains that each of Stratus's three Gallus presses meets a different market niche, though all are capable of high quality label production. Notes Curran, “They all have similar decorating capabilities, so we don't really have to say, ‘This is for this, and that is for that.’ We're able to use the right piece of equipment for the right job.” The 410, for example, serves as its long-run press, capable of doing multi-ply work and utilizing multiple converting techniques.

The EM280 is a modular, compact in-line press with a wide range of applications, which can be configured and retrofitted at will. It offers a high level of specialization for applications such as multi-web labels, booklet labels, and tickets. Its quick-change printing unit platform allows for simple switching between flexographic, screen, hot foil embossing, and cold foil printing units.

Short setup times and minimal waste are achieved thanks to state-of-the-art technologies such as chambered doctor blades and servo drives, like other Gallus presses. Touchscreen operation with job data memory also serves to minimize setup times and waste in repeat jobs.

As for the 280, “I always call it our ‘sports car,’ because we're always doing our short-runs on it,” says Curran. “And I think our new 340 is going to complement those two very well because we can off-load some of our current work onto it and, of course, add some new business as well!”

Focus on Flexibility

The Stratus Group's 100,000-sq-ft facility also houses three Arpeco offset presses, which print up to nine colors and 16 in. wide, to produce high quality folding cartons.

“We are definitely in the value-added business,” says Curran, “and we now have equipment that is suited to compete in that market with cold foil, hot stamp, and rotary screen print. We don't run anything on the labels side that we couldn't run on the Galluses.

“So now we can do UV flexo; we can do short run and long run,” adds Curran. “There really isn't a whole lot we can't do with the technology we have!”

Supplier Info

Converter Info

  • Stratus Group | 8710 Global Way, West Chester, OH 45069 | 513-870-4040 | www.stratisgrp.com

Serving Specialty Applications

Curt Curran, VP of Stratus Group, says he and his father and partner, Bob, initially chose Gallus as the supplier of their label presses because, “We've always respected Gallus as a manufacturer of high quality printing equipment and a leader in the market, so when we were ready to buy ourselves a real label press, we went with Gallus.”

What attracted Curran to the Gallus equipment? “I think our respect and appreciation for the technology they have,” he explains. “We were working on some special applications where multi-webs needed to be converted for some multi-ply labels, and it was really our meeting with [Gallus product director] Harold Jacob and [former Gallus president] Jon Guy that made me realize that Gallus had the best equipment to handle some of the specialty applications that we had.”


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