by Lara Copeland, writer, Plastics Decorating

Manufacturing screen printing machines for more than 75 years, GPE Ardenghi S.r.l., Treviglio, Italy, produces semi-automatic and automatic machines in addition to accessories for various sectors such as pharmaceutical, advertising, packaging and cosmetics. Recently, the company introduced two new innovations on the GPE 24 UV/LED automatic screen printing machine.

Roberto Ardenghi, owner at GPE, said: “The LED system is a new drying concept, as opposed to the traditional UV lamp, and is used to quickly dry the inks on the packaging. The machine is very compact thanks to the LED dryers, and it is able to print three colors inline with registration.”

These new implementations help reduce machine set-up operations and increase productivity. “The set-up is very easy,” Ardenghi illustrated, “because the operator only needs to change the tools of the printing stations.” Additionally, the position of the chain is stored in the touchscreen memory, and “in that way, the screen printer doesn’t have to manually move four (or more) meters of chain,” he said. The settings can be recalled at any time.

Users find many advantages with the machine’s LED system and electronic screens. The LED system reduces electricity consumption, and, as Ardenghi explained, “this investment cost is recovered by the user in a short time.” It also increases operator safety as it does not emit dangerous UV-C radiation. It does not require installed fans and piping since the air is not hot, allowing it to be released into the environment. The benefits also include not having a UV bulb to replace. Instead, it may be necessary to replace the irradiator after 20,000 to 40,000 hours of use. And, if work is needed on the printing area only, the lamp is adjustable (it can be switched off every 25 mm). Furthermore, the electronic screens allow for the possibility to store up to 200 settings for the printing artwork positions.

The GPE 24 UV/LED is set apart from other screen printers. “Due to the different aspects of the cosmetic market and the continued request for high-quality level, the automation must be equipped with many different options to obtain the perfect final result,” Ardenghi said. Products such as mascara tubes are made from different types of plastics, primarily PP and PE. The products are pretreated and printed in three colors completely inline. Ardenghi also commented that the machine has a flame treatment device (upon request, GPE can assemble plasma) to treat the surface to adjust the correct superficial tension. Some available options to complete the machine include a cleaning device, video-camera control for the inspection and optical registration.

GPE’s screen printers are completely manufactured in-house. Ardenghi believes this fact contributes to customer satisfaction. “We can follow and help the customer throughout the process,” he said. Additionally, customers and the market alike have responded positively to this machine’s introduction. “All the customers who have accepted the new solutions are very satisfied, and they prefer them now as a standard,” said Ardenghi.

Technical details

The minimum diameter is 10 mm and the maximum diameter is 22 mm. The length minimum is 50 mm (excluding the neck), and the maximum length is 130 mm. The automatic feeder and the LED systems ensure a 3.000/3.500 pcs/hr production rate. The minimum LED lamp radiation width is 75 mm, and the electric consumption is 500 W. Only UV-A radiation is emitted. The UV-LED ray emission stability is less than 10% after 20,000 working hours.