Hybrid printing systems, where flexo and digital are combined in a single system, have been around for a while now. But like anything else in the packaging arena they can always be optimized. A good example was on display at PACK EXPO Booth S-2501 . It was the H382 Hybrid from Hapa. This system is part of the evo+ family of printing systems, a greatly optimized approach to printing the lidding material on blister packs or other lidding materials in the pharmaceutical manufacturing space.
“The advantage of hybrid, of course, is that you can do short runs relying on digital and longer runs relying on flexo,” said Steve DiAngelis, Strategic Business Unit Manager at Hapa, a Coesia company. “Or you can do variable data like expiration date or serialization information by way of digital and nonvariable information by way of flexo. But what we’ve been hearing from customers is that hiring operator talent to run hybrid systems—or any packaging systems for that matter—has never been more challenging. So we’ve tried to make this machine more connectable and adaptable and easier to use than ever.”
For example, OPC UA is standard for easy integration into higher-level production systems. So if lot and expiration data need to be downloaded from a centralized ERP, it’s easy for a machine operator to do it.
“We’ve also embedded a vision system in the machine,” says DiAngelis. “It’s actually embedded in the printer, so the data flow is from a single point rather than the more conventional approach where the vision system is external to the printer. You’re validating one machine instead of validating a printer and a vision system.”
Last but not least, notes DiAngelis, ease of maintenance and serviceability have been vastly improved.