MAN Roland: More on the DirectDrive sheetfed presses
Press release from the issuing company
Westmont, Illinois — MAN Roland has applied a significant measure of its industry-leading web technology to the sheetfed sector, creating the world’s first sheetfed press with direct drive technology to improve pressroom productivity.
Designated with the straightforward name “DirectDrive,” the innovation powers a printing unit’s plate cylinder with its own high torque motor, controlled by MAN Roland’s PECOM digital press operating system. The breakthrough will be shown on a static ROLAND 700 printing unit at drupa to illustrate how it will accelerate makereadies and enhance production.
Visitors to MAN Roland’s drupa exhibit in Hall 6 will see how DirectDrive decouples the plate cylinder from the press’ main drive. That equips sheetfed printers with the advantages of parallel plate changing. The result: all of the plates on a ROLAND 700 with DirectDrive can be changed simultaneously, instead of one at a time, considerably slashing makeready time.
Another job-changeover savings prompted by DirectDrive: wash-up routines can be completed during plate changing for additional efficiency.
The mechanical isolation of the plate cylinder also endows a sheetfed press with 360° circumferential register. That enables a DirectDrive-equipped ROLAND 700 to accept printing plates created for presses built by different manufacturers. The advantage: unprecedented job flexibility for facilities running a variety of brands.
Timely technology transfer
Over the past decade, shaftless technology has revolutionized web pressrooms, equipping them with a long list of advantages made possible by isolating each printing unit’s motive connection through the use of separate direct drive motors.
DirectDrive combines the best of both web and sheetfed technology to raise the productive potential of sheetfed printers to a new level. The longitudinal shaft on a DirectDrive-equipped 700 ensures all of the printing units and sheet transfer components are mechanically in synch, as is the case on any sheetfed press.
The difference can be found at the plate cylinder, which is driven by its own motor and controlled by MAN Roland’s PECOM operating system. That enables it to be disengaged during critical makeready operations.
“Makeready is the make or break point on short run sheetfed jobs,” says Yves Rogivue, CEO of MAN Roland Inc. “For the past few years, press manufacturers have been doing everything in their power to trim seconds from that process. DirectDrive is a quantum leap in reducing sheetfed makeready times.”
Plate position precision
DirectDrive’s integrated control circuit automatically optimizes the relative positions of the press unit’s plate cylinder to its blanket cylinder at all times. Tests show a deviation tolerance of less than ten thousands of a millimeter, which is as good or better than the synchronicity achieved by a mechanical connection. The advantage: the DirectDrive connection doesn’t wear down since a mechanical link is not involved.
Parallel plate changes
DirectDrive will be particularly beneficial on long ROLAND 700s equipped with the company’s Automatic Plate Loading (APL) option. APL can change a plate in 55 seconds, but can currently do so on only one printing unit at a time. On long perfectors, that series approach adds up costing valuable time.
When teamed with Direct Drive, APL can change the plates on all press units, all at once. That transforms plate changing from one of most time-consuming makeready tasks in the sheetfed pressroom into one that can be completed in under a minute, even on 12-unit presses.
Flying plate changes
MAN Roland invented AutoTransfer for web press printers, enabling them to take printing units in and out of a print run on-the-fly, so black plate changes can be made without stopping the press. DirectDrive provides the same benefit to sheetfed facilities.
For example, text changes from one language to another on a six-color press can be carried out without stopping and restarting the system. While the black plate for the original runs on the fifth printing unit, the black plate for the new version can be loaded on the sixth printing unit.
A new direction for DICO
In the future, DirectDrive could pave the way for a sheetfed DICO machine. DICO technology produces offset quality printing without the need for printing plates. In a DICO application, DirectDrive could enable erasable imaging cylinders to be switched out of and into the printing cycle, while the press runs continually. That future development is currently being researched by MAN Roland.
Meanwhile, DirectDrive is currently undergoing an intensive testing phase, as it prepares for its world premiere at drupa 2004 at the MAN Roland exhibit in Hall 6.
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