Autobond Mini 36 TPM SUV

Autobond Mini 36 TPM SUV
This inline unit is designed to appeal to a host of digital operators

When was the machine launched?

The Autobond Mini 36 TPM SUV laminator and spot UV varnisher was announced at Ipex 2010, but wasn’t quite ready, so joint managing director John Gilmore decided not to take it to the show. “I’ve seen plenty of machines at shows that haven’t been fully tested, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake,” he says. “Spot UV varnishing is a new technology for us, so we wanted to get it right.”

Tom Ralph, from local dealer Graph-Pak, already has Australian printers lining up, but he has been asking them to hold tight while early adopters in the UK put the kit through its paces. “We didn’t want to be first cab off the rank – we are letting Autobond settle in the first machines.”

What market is it aimed at?

This particular B3 model is aimed at the digital print market. Ralph identified the book printers and trade suppliers as obvious targets. Gilmore believes there is a massive market for four-colour business cards that are laminated with matt film on both sides and then spot UV varnished inline. In addition, the machine should appeal to digital book printers. He says: “Next time you’re at an airport, look at the top 10 bestsellers. Most will have jackets that are matt laminated and spot UV varnished. This machine enables short-run books to have the same finish.”

What’s its USP?

While there are other spot UV varnishers for the digital market, this is the first one that has an inline laminator. It can also be bought as a standalone machine and attached to an existing laminator, provided it has a high pile feeder.

How does the laminator work?

The film roll is mounted on a quick-change air shaft, with tension controlled by a pneumatic brake. There are two laminating rollers – one chrome and one made of rubber. Both are pneumatically adjustable on the nip. The temperature control unit pumps hot water into the chrome roller at 40 litres per minute and then back to the unit for re-heating. It’s worth noting, however, that Autobond doesn’t supply an air compressor.

And the spot UV varnisher?

The spot UV machine is positioned directly behind the laminator, linked by an Autobond bump sheeter. The conveyor table is split into two sections: the first half of the table has angled side-shift rollers that move the sheets into a side-lay for registration like a folding machine, and the second half of the table has a vacuum belt, which holds the sheets completely flat all over. A detector registers the speed and position of the sheet, and printheads, which are positioned 1mm from the surface of the passing sheets, apply the varnish. Finally, the sheet passes cold-curing LED lamps.

How fast is it? What’s quality like?

Top speed is 30m per minute, but it’s possible to run the laminator on its own at 45m per minute. Makeready on the laminator is about five minutes, while it takes less than a minute to set up the UV machine – this is because an eight-bit 360dpi greyscale bitmap image file of the print job is downloaded to the computer system controlling the inkjet printheads.

What’s the support like?

Ralph says that when the machine launches, the average training time will be about one week. Remote diagnostics are available and spare parts are not an issue. He says : “We stock about $50,000 worth of Autobond parts. We have just done our 50th Autobond install in five years. We know what we need to keep on the shelf.”

Graph-Pak has eight full-time technicians, with a mix of electrical and mechanical engineers. Admittedly these aren’t exclusively working on Autobonds, but the dealer does employ one specialist with 20 years’ experience with laminators. “The Autobonds are built to a very high standard; if something goes wrong, it is usually electronic and we troubleshoot that and come up with a solution.”

Graph-Pak can dial into the machine remotely, and if they get stumped, can pass it on to specialists in the UK or US.

How much does it cost and how many installations have there been?

Graph-Pak can create a package for around $300,000. The first installation was in the UK at the start of May. There are no local installations but Ralph says Graph-Pak has three customers on the hook. B2 and B1 versions of the machine will available later in the year. At Drupa 2012, look out for the machine being demonstrated inline with a Rollem slitter.

Specifications

Speed: 30m/min (4,000sph)

Max sheet size: 360x570mm

UV lamp: Cold-curing, ozone-free LED

Footprint: 2,000x1,100x500mm (SUV only)

Price Mini: 36 TPM and SUV varnisher package: $300,000

Contact: Graph-Pak 1300 885 550

The Alternative

MGI JETVarnish

French firm MGI claims to have been the first company in the world to offer spot UV coating for digital print, back at Drupa 2008. The French manufacturer says it has learned a lot about the technology over the past three years and has now installed more than 100 of the machines globally. The JETVarnish has a makeready of about five sheets and has the ability to do three different finishes in one pass – satin, gloss and super gloss.

Speed: 30m/min

Max sheet size: 520x740mm (520x1,050mm opt)

Price: $300,000

Contact: GBC Australia 1800 422 

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