Me & my: Komfi Delta 52 thermal laminator

By Simon Creasey, Monday 24 June 2019

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Nationwide Print needed a new laminator that could handle difficult stocks and keep energy use to a minimum, and the Delta delivered.

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Hocking: “We tested it with some difficult stocks, but it came through and did the job”

Around eight years ago Julian Hocking, managing director of St Austell-based Nationwide Print, made a bold decision. He wanted to turn the Cornish company into the UK’s most environmentally friendly printer. What followed was a raft of investment in green technology and energy saving measures, including solar arrays, energy efficient lighting and a fully electric e-Golf car, to name but a few. The company also made sure its printing processes were as green as possible through the use of vegetable-based inks and chemistry-free plates.

The bold strategy and investment programme paid off in spades. Last October, the company was named Environmental Company of the Year at the PrintWeek Awards 2018.
Although every business decision the company has made over the past eight years has taken the environment into account, sometimes there isn’t a great deal Hocking can do to offset the impact of some of the processes his business uses.

That was the case when he decided to invest in a new laminator. “We need a laminator and we can’t do anything about lamination [in terms of the environment] unfortunately,” says Hocking.

The company, which produces a wide range of different print jobs – from business cards to brochures – for clients ranging from the Eden Project through to Rolex, boasts an armoury of finishing kit in addition to Ricoh digital presses and Heidelberg Speedmasters.

Hocking says that generally the company has undertaken finishing work in-house and whenever he replaces or upgrades equipment he looks to buy kit that will reduce Nationwide’s environmental footprint. That was the case late last year when the firm decided to buy a new laminator.

“We had an old B1 laminator that we had purchased a few years ago from a finishing house that had gone bust,” says Hocking. “But what we wanted was something that was quick to set up, easier to use and had a small footprint.”

He looked at a couple of options including a D&K laminator, which he was impressed by. However, he was eventually won over by the Komfi Delta 52 thermal laminator, supplied by Friedheim International.

“I went to see another printer I knew who I trusted and who already had one,” says Hocking. “We tested it with some difficult stocks, but it came through and did the job. It also used less energy than other laminating machines, which was important to us. And we managed to secure a suitable negotiation so it worked out cheaper than the D&K.”

Seamless switch
The Komfi Delta was installed late last year and according to Tom Baker, sales specialist post-press division at Friedheim, the switchover from the old machine to the new one was pretty seamless.

“The installation went very smoothly due to the fact that we’ve sold quite a number of the Delta model over the years, [so] even our newest member of the service team was able to expertly install, set up, explain and train two of Nationwide’s operators,” says Baker. “Over the course of two days the Delta was tested, set up for work and operational with our engineer leaving it in the hands of the operators.”

The fact that the new laminator was smaller than Nationwide’s existing machine was an additional bonus, although Hocking says the company has plenty of room in the factory so space wasn’t ever really an issue.

The B2 thermal laminator automatically feeds sheets through for a range of laminating film to be heat transferred onto the sheet. It is targeted primarily at commercial print sectors and although it has been used to process digitally printed sheets it is not specifically designed for the digital sector. Having said that, Baker points out that “the ease of use and versatility of the machine lends itself to the digital sector due to the short run nature of the work”.

The machine, which has simple touch screen controls, is designed for continual use and Baker says many customers use it 24/7. It is also an incredibly versatile machine capable of handling a wide film range as well as a wide range of sheet thickness from 115-600gsm. It has a maximum speed of 35 metres a minute depending on sheet thickness and film used.
Baker adds that the company has sold a number of the machines to UK customers. “For the UK market it is a very good price point for the B2 format with the features that come as standard, such as the the zone IR heated rollers that are continuously monitoring the whole lamination process - feeding, temperature, air pressure, sheet separation, etc,” he explains.

“Komfi ensures 100% quality result. The feeding heads are now processor controlled giving more stable sheet feeding with separation blowers to feed the sheets reliably.”

But don’t just take his word for it. Hocking has also been suitably impressed by how the Delta has performed. 

“The quality is excellent and the machine has been working well,” he says. “The speed, the footprint and the adaptability of stock it can laminate are excellent.”

Back-up
He adds that the service and support offered have also been top notch and that overall he’s delighted with the new addition. As for any gripes, he says the only issue with the machine “was the initial feeding of the film which would be easier if it had a manual feed. The bursting and perf of the laminate can cause a build-up, which is more problematic when guillotining”.

In response to these issues Baker says that due to the heat and nature of the process curling starts to happen. “This is prevented by a de-curling roller and a flying knife, which separates the sheets cleanly at which point the sheet is dropped into the stacker,” he continues.

“Although lamination is not complicated, there are quite a few variables for smooth production and usually it comes down to the experience of the operators and working with the materials.

“Variables can affect the production speed and workflow which include; sheet thickness, type of film, temperature etc, all of which improves with experience. Feeding a laminator can be sometimes problematic due to there being a gap between sheets, with the Delta there is a 3-5mm overlap to ensure continuous operation. The Delta perforates the laminate to enable the snapping roller to easily separate the sheet, the build-up of which can cause problems, the simple solution is to lighten the perf and avoid any further build up.”

Minor issues aside, Hocking is delighted with what it’s brought the company, particularly its versatility and ability to handle a wide range of stocks.

“On the old laminator that we were using we were having trouble with some thinner low weight stocks. There were some troublesome stocks that we couldn’t do before so it’s helped us on those bottlenecks.”

As a result, he says he would recommend it to other printers – as long as they can negotiate a good price for it. “There are lots of good [laminating] machines out there that all do a good job and this is comparable to what’s on the market,” says Baker. “At the end of the day I’m commercially minded, so if it does what it’s supposed to do and if you get it at the right price it’s definitely worth buying.”


Specifications

Max speed of lamination 35m/min
Max sheet dimensions 540x760mm
Min sheet dimensions 200x200mm
Paper weight 115-600gsm
Thickness of laminating film 24-50µm
Kind of laminating film OPP, PET, Nylon
Time of laminating roll warm up 3 minutes
Footprint (inc delivery desk) 2.7x1.2m
Price From £35,000
Contact Friedheim International 01442 206100 www.friedheim.co.uk


Company profile
Nationwide Print was founded in 1959. In 1998, Julian Hocking, a graduate of the London College of Printing and Oxford Polytechnic, took over the St Austell-based business.

Nationwide is a general commercial printing company that produces a raft of different work, from flyers and leaflets, through to stationery, roller banners and greeting cards. Its client list includes St Austell Brewery, Emporio Armani, Eden Project and Cornwall Council. Around eight years ago Hocking decided to transform Nationwide into a green printer. The company has invested in a host of green technology and energy saving measures, which culminated in the business being named Environmental Company of the Year at the PrintWeek Awards 2018.

Why it was bought...
The company had an old laminator that struggled to handle some stocks. It was tricky to use and had a fairly large footprint. Hocking wanted something that was quick and easy to set up and had a smaller footprint than the existing laminator. He also wanted something that was more energy efficient.

How it has performed...
Since installation it has lived up to its billing. Hocking says the quality has been “excellent” and the machine represents good value for money. “The key thing for me is if I don’t hear anything about it [from the production team]. If I don’t hear about it that means that everything is going alright,” he adds.

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