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