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KPG – Valuing ongoing partnership with Martin Automatic

Typical examples of food casings produced on KPG Euroflex presses

UK • KPG Europe with headquarters in Peterborough is the European subsidiary of Japanese company KPG, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of narrow web presses that are specifically designed for printing artificial casings, polybags and films. Over the years, the company has developed a unique working partnership with Martin Automatic for splicing and rewind technology.

All Euroflex casing presses supplied by KPG are based on a central impression drum design. Utilising single or twin drums and flexo printing, the presses can be specified for use with different types of ink; UV cationic and solvent based inks for printing on single and multi-layered polyamides, or water and alcohol based inks for use on collagen and fibrous casings. The packaging applications for artificial casings continues to grow, with pet foods, fruit purees, smoked and fish being added to all types of meat products, including a huge range of sausages.

Semi-automatic and automatic versions

The semi-automatic versions are fitted with two accumulators, two unwinds and two rewinds. At roll change, the press slows to 25 m/min (82 fpm) to allow the operator 45 seconds to effect the change before ramping back up to full production speed. The fully automatic versions incorporate systems from Martin Automatic. KPG fits a Martin STS butt splicer with web festoon, and STR turret rewinder to provide non-stop production. Both systems are fitted on a rail system for lateral alignment of the web, with the STR also having an ultrasonic web guide.

A key consideration here is that the web enters and leaves the press off-centre by varying degrees according to the width of the material. Martin designed this rail system so that operators are able to make rapid adjustments to re-align the web, thereby reducing waste and maintaining product integrity. The Martin rail system works well with KPG dual-pass technology because the web is located centrally on the STS mandrel while it is being positioned for its first pass round the CID. KPG also has a number of combined STS/STR installations on twin-drum single pass casing presses in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Many KPG customers with wider web presses, wanting to use their press for single pass printing, choose to fit only a Martin STS unit. In this case, the press is fitted with integral unwind and two rewinds and is a fine example of how the combined technology of Martin Automatic and KPG works to benefit the customer by providing production flexibility.

Constant web tension is crucial

Casings are printed flat, although the web is actually an extruded tube without a join, and are therefore high value substrates where any waste is a costly factor. Avoiding pinholes is critical, so constant web tension is vital and a secure airtight splice essential, and this is where the Martin roll changers have to meet exacting requirements. On the splice, tape has to be applied to the top and under side of the web to ensure 100% air tightness. After printing, the web is shirred and then product filled under pressure and in case of meat products, finally subjected to autoclaving. So, even the smallest perforation will fail the roll.

The market for artificial casings

KPG views emerging markets for artificial casings as having a major influence on sales. As global population continues to grow and greater affluence brings more brand awareness, the demand for this specialist printed packaging and products with longer shelf life increases. A constant supply of good quality casings from local and reliable extrusion plants is another ‘must’. Europe is well supplied, according to KPG, with leading European extruders also having production facilities in Asia, and North & South America. Additionally, there is growing trend for many KPG customers located around the world to be both extruders and casing printers.

The relationship between KPG and Martin Automatic is not limited only to the artificial casings market. KPG also markets a range of specialist presses for the tube forming industry, providing high quality printed ABL/PBL tube laminates. Using flexo, letterpress, or combined printing processes, these presses are also frequently operated on a non-stop production schedule that requires Martin Automatic technology. The MBS butt splicer and LRD rewinder are ideal for the heavier rolls of tube laminates even at high press speeds. These combined KPG/Martin presses are used by international companies supplying printed tubes to the toiletry, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and home care industries.

Armin Karl Geiger

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