SAKURAI TURNS AUTOMATION INTO SUCCESS.
A Q & A with David Rose, General Manager, Sakurai USA, Inc.
Reprint from December/January issue courtesy of Screen Printing Magazine.
What is Sakurai’s philosophy on automation and how has this played out over the history of the company?
Automation is all about producing units at less cost. In printing, the easiest ways to reduce cost include using less expensive material, printing more units per hour, and producing on equipment that requires less labor hours. Sakurai’s new SD line of cylinder sheetfed presses are automated in such a way to overcome bad material, poor screen making, sloppy setups, inferior ink, and a poor press operator
Sakurai is designing equipment to help take the human element out of the printing process. Printing is still an art form, but automation can turn art into science.
Sakurai has a long history in the printing industry. In the early ’60s, Sakurai revolutionized the high-speed printing of envelopes. They exhibited a fully auto- matic letterpress at drupa in 1962, and six years later, in agreement with General Research, started producing cylinder screen presses. The fact that Sakurai knew how to build a feeder allowed them to do it successfully for letterpress, offset, and screen presses. It’s a compelling story and a full timeline can be viewed on our parent companies website:CLICK HERE
Why is automation such an important concept today, not just in screen printing but throughout the industry?
Machine automation should result in a repeatable, consistently produced, salable product. In other words, it should come out the same way every time. Its purpose is to remove the human influence from the production of the printed piece. An example would be a handfed printing press, where the operator has to hit all of the registration marks when loading. An automated printing press, either with the use of a camera, like Sakurai’s CCD optical sheet alignment system, or a mechanical edge guide, removes the human element.
Talk about some of Sakurai’s most recent technological advancements and how they are designed to help printers be more efficient.
Sakurai, along with its curing and drying partner Natgraph, is integrating smart machine interface into its product mix. For example, if sheets pile up in the stacker, a signal is sent to the press to stop production. Other advancements include:
- Sensors on the dryer and the press controlling the UV output of the lamps to reduce energy consumption when sheets aren’t being printed.
- Squeegee pressure driven by a servomotor on Sakurai’s SD and MS presses so the operator doesn’t have to walk all the way around the press.
- Pallet-compatible feeders and stackers that give you the ability to move printed sheets back to the press for additional colors without handling them.
Sakurai’s most recent introduction of its Servo Driven models gives the operator new print adjustments not normally seen on a sheetfed cylinder press. Changing the squeegee angle, position, length and print allows you to overcome any variable caused by poor printability inks.
What are some advantages that LED could bring to screen printers, and where do you think we’ll see the most significant adoption of the technology?
Sakurai is one of the industry leaders in UV-LED technology for both offset and screen. For the past several years we have been developing strategic partnerships with dryer, ink and other manufacturers to bring leading edge drying and curing solutions to market. The use of LED will expand very rapidly in offset and digital because of the thin deposit of ink and how close you can get the lamp head to the ink deposit. In traditional industrial screen applications, LED is very limited. Issues such as: Is there LED ink made for my application? Best you check the cost of the ink, and cost of the equipment. It will grow, but the application will have narrow process variables in order to be successful.
Any predictions for our readers in 2017? Anything on Sakurai’s horizon that you would like to share?
Sakurai is optimistic for the future of the industry with more automation and advanced technology on the horizon. We can expect to see more extensive use of smart-UV curing, low energy use hot forced air dryers, more cameras and sensors requiring less operator skill and intervention. Make your employee’s job easier and more productive with better equipment; replace you old, tired dryer that wastes energy and overheats your product. If your screen print equipment is producing 400 sheet per hour now, look at automation and start doing 2,000 per hour with less setup, less scrap and a more repeatable, consistent product.