November 8, 2011

Tin printer tour

Many thanks to Keith Skillicorn of England for taking us on this virtual tour of the tin printing department of Crown Packaging in Aintree. Keith works in the prepress department and has this to say:

“Tin printing in our industry is actually the same as normal offset, sheet-fed lithographic printing. There are a couple of subtle differences however. The ink train is relatively small, with fewer rollers than a paper press. This is to minimise the number of sheets through the press to make a change in ink-film thickness.


Ink roller train (blue), dampening system with Epic plate


Ink duct

“The other difference is that the three cylinders (plate, blanket, and impression) are always arranged vertically so the tinplate does not have to bend when being printed, so the sheet of tinplate goes straight through. With many paper presses, the impression cylinder is pushed back toward the rear of the press and the sheet curves around it before either being printed on another deck or into the sheet delivery.


Sheet feeder


Printed sheets approach the sheet delivery end


Sheet delivery end

“The press is arranged in a U shape. The sheets are fed into the first printing deck where the first colour is applied. The sheet is then transferred on moving tapes to the second printing deck. The sheet goes under U/V lamps to dry the ink before it goes into the varnish unit.


Follow on varnish coater (right), U-bend (middle), Pip the printer (centre)

“The sheet then goes around the U bend & under the U/V lamps to dry the varnish. The varnish has to lie for a few moments before it is cured. Finally the sheet is delivered into the end box.


U bend


Sheets emerge from UV curing lamps

“We use old machinery at the moment but a £9,000,000 investment means that in late 2013/early2014, new presses and a move to a new site should secure the future of the Aintree plant. I suppose at the moment we are a living museum. My department is probably the most up to date as we have a Computer to plate making system in place. Here is a Wikipedia link to Offset litho, which is so similar it makes very little difference.”

Here are a few extra photos and a video that Keith sent us. (Look at that familiar shade of yellow!)


Colman’s single blank


Colman’s Mustard can line


Drum line


Drum line testing


Feeder end, 2 colour press

Thanks again to Keith for all the great photos and information!

4 Responses

  1. Betty says:

    This is very interesting. Thanks for publishing. Keep up the good work!

  2. yashashree ranjan padhy says:

    this is a very great show of metal printing and packaging.

    Thank you

  3. C Brough says:

    Is all tin lithography done on flat plate, or, for example, are the cans on the drum line assembled, then printed ? Thanks for your response. CBrough Clovis CA USA

    • tinplategirl says:

      As far as we know, all tinplate lithography is done on flat sheets, using presses much like those that are used to print paper. The flat sheets of printed tinplate are then cut, shaped, formed, and otherwise manufactured into products like tins and toys.

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