Valmet Tech Center to Open for Converters Worldwide

New Tech Center to Help Valmet Build Partnerships
MILAN, ITALY—Following a successful period of business growth and the launch of several new products over the past two years, Valmet Converting has announced the launch of a new Converting Technology Center (CTC) at Valmet Rotomec SpA, in San Giorgio Monferrato, near Milan in northern Italy. The CTC will be dedicated to the future development of converting processes specifically for flexible packaging materials.

This significant investment project of more than euro 10 million was approved by the board of parent company Metso Corp. of Finland and further underlines Valmet’s commitment to maintaining its position as a world-leading, full-scope supplier of equipment, expertise, and process solutions to the global converting industry.

Covering an area of approximately 2000 m2 (20,000 sq ft) and adjoining the existing production facility at Valmet Rotomec SpA, the CTC will open in mid-March this year and have its official inauguration in May.

The new facility reportedly will help build important "partnership" relationships with Valmet’s customer base and bring the joint development of advanced technology solutions for converters closer than ever, within the sphere of flexible packaging materials. "Valmet Converting has the widest scope of converting equipment and expertise in process solutions for converting flexible packaging materials," states Ilkka Kesola, who is president of Valmet Rotomec SpA and responsible for the successful implementation of this important project.

Why Build a Technology Center for Converting?
Explains Kesola,"The CTC will be a ‘center of excellence’ and a significant research and development facility for improving customers’ converting processes. Such a global, full-scope supplier like Valmet has the resources available to be at the leading edge of technology and process development, which is where we are today and where we want to be in the future."

Kesola cites the history of successful business expansion at Valmet Rotomec, since its inception in 1960. "Rotomec began life as a components and machine supplier to the printing industry in this area around Casale Monferrato, between Milan and Turin, but soon grew its business to include service and rebuilds. Rotomec soon became recognized as an important manufacturer of both rotogravure printing presses and coating and laminating machinery to the converting industry worldwide."

The company was acquired by Valmet Corp. of Finland in 1987, one of the world’s largest suppliers of machinery to the pulp and paper industry. Valmet’s diversification into converting and strong financial backing led to Valmet Rotomec becoming more involved in project management, with the provision of more turnkey type installations in the early to mid 1990s.

"Having previously worked at Valmet Rotomec during this period of expansion," Kesola continues, "we could see that, eventually, Valmet would have an opportunity to play a major role in converting, but we needed to expand our portfolio of products."

The acquisition of the U.K.-based Atlas Converting Equipment Group of Companies in 1997, substantially increased Valmet’s reach of business in the converting sector. This included Atlas and Titan slitter/rewinders for paper, film, foil, and laminates; General vacuum web coating and metallizing machinery; and Midi slitters and separators for aluminium foil.

With such a broad range of equipment and solutions, this naturally strengthened Valmet’s position not only as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of converting equipment but also in the sphere of turnkey and project management solutions.

From Machine Builder to Process Supplier
"With a complete stable of converting equipment, the natural evolution from this, in a very competitive business environment, is now leading Valmet Converting to take on the challenge as a world leading supplier of process technology, hence this major investment in the new CTC in Italy," states Kesola. "This will eventually lead us to become even more deeply involved in production processes in the future with Valmet Converting taking a leading role as a ‘partner supplier’ in years to come. "In only the last three or four years, we have seen the number of our customers getting smaller as a direct result of more and more mergers, takeovers and general consolidation of the flexible packaging industry. Our strategy is in direct response to these changes and trends in Valmet’s core markets. This has recently been reflected in a number of agreements to provide process technology to major players in flexible packaging and is a step in that direction. The trend looks set to continue," Kesola states confidently.

Comprehensive Range of Equipment
Production-scale machinery at the CTC provides customers with a unique opportunity to enhance processes and re-define production concepts. The CTC will initially feature Rotomec gravure and flexographic printing presses, laminating and Titan slitting and rewinding technology.

The CTC will house a fully operational Rotomec 4000-2 ES gravure printing press with the Rotomec electronic shaft (ES) technology. The Rotomec 4000-2 will have a 1,200-mm web width and will run at a maximum speed of 400 mpm (1,300 fpm) for printing BOPP, PET, and LDPE films, paper, and laminates. It will feature nine printing units, of which one to seven are normal and eight to nine the reversible cartridge type with the possibility of cold seal coating in-register on unit nine. Space has been reserved for the addition of a further printing unit later, if required. The press has been designed to demonstrate rapid job changeovers with fully automated cartridge insertion and removal and has a wide range of other high-tech features and options available.

The Rotomec EG 400-1 flexographic printing press features electronic gear technology, with a ,300-mm-wide web width, sleeve-type printing decks, duplex winders, and 350- 800-mm printing repeats. The press will run at speeds to 300 mpm (1,000 fpm) with 20 minutes maximum required for an eight-color job changeover.

The Rotomec EG 400-1 flexo press will run both solvent- and water-based inks, with a 1,700-mm-dia, water-cooled CI drum. The press also features a fully automatic wash-up system and a host of other high-tech features.

The CTC will also include a Rotomec SL/SB 700 combined coating and laminating machine for solventless adhesives and cold seal coating. With a 1,200-mm (47-in.) web width, the new laminator will run at 300 mpm (1,300 fpm) for PET, BOPP, PVC, PE, paper, and aluminium. Most development work will focus on lamination of adhesive coatings (solvent-based maximum 4 gsm dry at 35% and solventless lamination at normal or high temperatures at maximum 3.5 gsm). Cold seal coating will be possible in-register on preprinted materials, and the laminator will have many innovative features to help develop advanced coating and laminating solutions.

Finally, the CTC will have the benefit of a Titan SR7 slitter/rewinder running to 1,600-mm (64-in.) web width at a maximum 600 mpm (2,000 fpm) and up to 800-mm (32-in.) rewind diameters.

The Titan SR7 will also feature an edge trim waste recovery system, separate shaftless unwind stand, splicing table, automatic knife positioning, and a laser beam core-positioning system. It will have TFT touch-screen computer control, Siemens S7 PLC & Windows NT software, and the Titan "Quickshaft" differential rewind system.

The CTC has a laboratory for testing materials and will employ technicians specialized in the various printing, laminating, and slitting processes on a full-time basis to serve Valmet’s customers. The CTC also features a uniquely designed and versatile ‘pilot line’ for testing various processes. Later, other equipment will be added to the facility.

Valmet Converting senior management believes the CTC is a very important step in building strong partnerships with customers and a logical step forward in responding to their needs. It is also why Valmet is committed to this long-term investment dedicated to flexible packaging, which is by far its biggest market segment.

Continuing Investment in Technology
The CTC will be the first of two such facilities for improving converting processes across a wide range of equipment currently provided by the Group.

The second facility will be at the Valmet General plant in Heywood, near Manchester in the U.K., which produces vacuum web coating and metallizing machinery for paper and plastic film. These materials are destined not only for flexible packaging but also for the decorative and speciality markets in electronics, optical & security applications.

For more technical information, please contact: Mr. Ilkka Kesola, president or Mr. Giovanni Caprioglio, VP, sales and marketing at Valmet Rotomec SpA, San Giorgio M. (AL), Italy; ph: +39 0142 4071; e-mail: sales.rotomec@valmet.com.

Visit Valmet at valmetconverting.com.



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