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FILM WRAPPING -- A Nice Finishing Touch

May 2001

The economic strain being felt by most, if not all, industries across our country is making for some interesting bed-fellows. New media applications such as the Internet, with some of its brethren at one time poised to make ink-on-paper as cutting edge as a Smith Corona typewriter, has come crawling back with its tail between its declining stock.

Well, we also need the dotcom and advanced media technology companies as much as they need us. Advertising revenue, particularly for magazines, is down. There is, however, an upside to the doom and gloom being projected/predicted for at least the first half of 2001. This upside has a far-reaching impact, all the way down to the far end of your finishing line and the film wrapping equipment.

"With the recent decline in dotcom advertising success, many dotcom and other companies are returning to magazines for advertising and associated revenues," states Josie Muigai, marketing manager for Buhrs Americas. "This has led to their desire to purchase many specialty niche magazine titles in order to direct their own marketing efforts.

"What this means for the industry is that they are now projecting a 6.5 percent growth in magazine advertising through 2004," she adds. "This is up from the 1 percent growth reported for the last two years. This means that the part of the industry that Buhrs serves is driven by added-value for the advertisers with add-on pieces and gimmicks in support of the dotcom companies."

An increasing amount of printed product, primarily magazines, is requiring film wrapping. Advertisers have been bombarding readers with various products, from CD-ROMs to special supplements, that require outserting for the mail stream or the newsstand. More than ever, the advertising vehicle has driven off the printed page and has evolved into many forms as the creative minds behind it attempt to stay two steps ahead of the recessionary climate. As advertisers attempt to spread their wings even farther, something needs to hold that book together.

Production Partners
For Buhrs—its latest system offering is the Buhrs 4000—staying ahead of the curve from the manufacturing standpoint means technical innovation through partnership. This helps differentiate Buhrs' products from its contemporaries, contends Muigai.

"Each Buhrs' company's (research and development) department is part of the Buhrs R&D team, which cooperates with international universities and regulatory bodies in order to develop the most advanced systems and to comply with the latest regulations and standards," she says.

"Ergonomics, safety and efficiency, in contrast to modularity and ease of use, are subjects for innovation," Muigai adds. "State-of-the-art servo techniques, distributed control, intelligent data distribution systems and advanced recognition software are integrated into our latest generation of systems."

The optional CS300 gathering system adds flexibility to Buhrs' wrapping systems by gathering product for placement in the main raceway of wrappers. The six- or eight-feeder module boasts independently driven feeders for simple setup and castor wheels for easy positioning.

Wrapped product to be mailed has overtaken strapping functions for a number of reasons, according to Joel Anderson, marketing manager for ARPAC. He notes that the U.S. Postal Service offers large discounts to publishers/printers if the bundles can be sorted and wrapped, according to ZIP code plus four (postal route sequencing). This sorting method tends to create smaller bundles that are difficult to strap, and still maintain containment of the bundle without loss or damage.

ARPAC manufactures shrink wrap machines for a number of industries; its 55GI-20CX continuous motion shrink wrapper—designed to handle high speeds and random bundle sizes—addresses the commercial printing sector. The 55GI-20CX can wrap bundle sizes from 3⁄16" to 10" high, with a rate of 55 bundles per minute. At Graph Expo last year, the company also unveiled the CAPRA 120LS polybagger for wrapping individual magazines and catalogs at speeds up to 120 per minute.

"The 55GI-20C has separate and infinitely variable speed drives on the infeed and tunnel belts, allowing customers to change speeds and temperatures on-the-fly," Anderson remarks. "This means that they can optimize the most efficient use of time and energy consumption."

In terms of options, ARPAC offers a short stroke cylinder kit that allows printers to increase bundle throughput from 55 to 65 per minute on bundles under 6" high.

The demand for shrink wrapping systems has greatly increased in the commercial printing market over the past decade, according to Todd Hiser, vice president and general manager of Clamco Corp.

"Commercial printing operations depend extensively on the superior protection and cost efficiency," Hiser states. "This huge demand requires extremely dependable, highly efficient systems designed with the standard features and readily available options to deliver high throughput rates at low operating costs."

Not-so-Standard Features
According to Hiser, Clamco offers standard features not found on most competing systems. They include the Model 120 L-sealer/tunnel combination system with 120-volt operation and the high-speed 1700 Series. The Model 120 has standard features such as unitized package tray and film cradle with pinwheel perforator, large shrink tunnel and 11-gauge steel construction.

With large inserts and various media such as CD-ROMs accompanying publications, security at newsstands becomes an issue. This fact augments the important role of the wrapper, reveals Felix Stirnimann, division manager, print finishing operations, for Muller Martini.

Piggyback mailings—two catalogs to one address—can save on postage and enable margins to be met. He also points out the increasing demand for one-pass operation, bringing the inserting/wrapping segments in-line with the finishing system.

Muller Martini offers the dual system of the Onyx inserter and Rubin film wrapper. The Onyx features a regular stack-pile feeder for loading brochures or single sheets, and a twin feeder for side-by-side card placement. Maximum size of products fed is 16.5x12.25", with a top speed of 18,000 cph. The Rubin can wrap from the bottom up or from the top down. Both units are servo driven.


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