Take a look inside Nameplates for Industry, a screen-printing shop that has served the North American industrial-graphics market for more than 20 years.
By Lori Leaman
NFI maintains a Class 100 clean room that features a sophisticated air-filtration system. The company uses the clean room for jobs that involve fine-resolution halftones, conductive silver for circuits, and for overlays with transparent windows.
NFI purchased an HP Indigo digital offset press (Figure 3) five years ago to complement its screen-printing equipment. Rudnick says the Indigo has proven ideal for four-color-process jobs and graphic designs that include color gradients, blends, and other elements that might be challenging to produce with screen-printing equipment. The Indigo also helps NFI produce high-resolution, durable, and weather-resistant products—many of which are UL listed, as well as CSA recognized (the Canadian equivalent to UL testing).
"In order to sell in the markets we sell to, the end users want UL-recognized products," Rudnick says. "So we are faced with having to have [our] product constructions recognized and maintained for UL listings."
If NFI has found one limitation with the Indigo, it's that the press's inks are not opaque enough for certain applications. For example, Rudnick explains that some applications on clear plastics requires opaque inks; otherwise, the plastic can darken or change color as it ages. To remedy the situation, the shop uses screen printing to overprint certain jobs printed by the Indigo press.
The staff at NFI discovered over the years that a job does not necessarily end once it's printed. "When I got into this business, I thought it was a printing business," Rudnick says. "But I've come to learn that it is as much a finishing business as it is a printing business…all of that printing is useless unless it is finished accurately."
NFI's finishing department houses three Imperia 24 x 36-in. diecutting systems (Figure 4), one Imperia embossing and thermal cutting press, a Seybold Citation 45-in. guillotine cutter, and a Polar 39-in. guillotine cutter. Other equipment includes a Rollem 24-in. backslitter and two SEI laser cutters with optic registration systems.
The diecutting machines handle long print runs. The laser systems (Figure 5) are dedicated to prototypes and short-run jobs that require very tight registration. The shop maintains a ±0.010-in. standard cutting tolerance (Figure 6). NFI also uses an Acugage X-Y coordinate-measuring machine for jobs that demand critical measurements.
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