Flexographic Bridge Sleeves
What are flexographic bridge sleeves?
Flexographic bridge sleeves, also typically known as flexographic adapters or flexographic bridges are pneumatic or hydraulic adapters used in the flexographic printing industry to ‘bridge’ the gap between a printing press mandrel and the inner diameter of the printing sleeve. They are designed to increase the size of the mandrel in the press and are especially used when the outer diameter for the printing is big.
Bridge sleeves are also known as adapter sleeves or format adapter sleeves, mounting adapters, carriers, bridging sleeves or flexographic bridge mandrels.
What are the advantages of using the bridging sleeves or adapter sleeves?
Flexo adapters play a supporting role in building a larger print diameter to achieve the desired printing repeat. Since a mounting adapter extends the size of the mandrel in the press, printing sleeves with a high wall thickness are not needed. This enables the plate sleeves to be made thinner, lighter and cheaper. In addition, various plate sleeves of different repeat sizes can be used along with the same flexo bridges to build up the desired repeat. A wide range of repeats can be covered in this way by combing the same flexo bridges with different (thinner and cheaper) plate sleeves. Thus, flexographic bridges are a cost-efficient solution.
Apart from the fact that the flexo adapters are very cost-efficient, they enable the flexo printer to produce high quality output at higher printing speeds. Sleeves with a bigger repeat sizes cause deflection during printing, leading to bouncing. More often than not, the only way to avoid this is by reducing the printing speed. However, an adapter sleeve can help the flexo printer in maintaining stable print quality by reducing the vibrations or bouncing, also known as “Flexion resonance phenomenon”. It is generally advised to use flexo bridges with sleeves, if the wall thickness of the sleeve exceeds 20 mm, to achieve the best print quality.
Briefly, flexographic adapters are cost-efficient, easier to use and increase the size of the mandrel to provide the same level of quality and accuracy in the flexographic printing process.
What is different about a Tech Bridge?
Tech Sleeves is a specialized adapter sleeve manufacturer. At Tech Sleeves®, we produce flexographic adapters and plate sleeves for the global flexo printing industry. We rely on a blend of experience and innovation to develop our products to enhance the printing quality and overall efficiency. By offering innovative features and top-class service, we aim to enhance the quality and performance for our clients, while strategically positioning the company worldwide.
Recognizing the problems in the industry, we use exclusive superior raw materials to build our flexographic bridge mandrels. These superior materials help our flexo bridges to ensure durability, consistency and dimensional stability. All of our flexographic bridge sleeves are built with different layers:
• The innermost 1 mm layer is made with Dyneema® for expandability and flexibility.
• Dyneema® is the world’s strongest fiber that offers maximum strength at minimum weight.
• Dyneema® does not fray and is up to 40% stronger than aramid fibers such as Kevlar®.
• This core prevents slipping of the sleeve on the mandrel.
• The innermost core makes the flexographic bridge mandrel extremely durable and resistant to moisture, UV light and chemicals.
Compressible Foam Layer
• The second layer is built with a 1 mm layer of compressible foam layer.
• This compressible foam layer is pre-compressed to have a high rebound resilience, making it up to 50% compressible without bulging.
• This enables the flexo bridges to have a perfect fit on the mandrel, reducing bouncing.
• This layer makes the bridge adapter resistant to permanent deformation, have good abrasion resistance from aging, weathering and cleaning solvents used for polymer plate cleaning.
Techcore Material in various thicknesses
• The third layer is the Techcore material, which is used in various thicknesses to build up the required repeat.
• This layer is stitched, bonded, compressed and volumized by fiberglass infused with Epoxy Vinyl-Ester-Resin to make an ultra-high strength composite core.
• This ultra-high-strength composite core reduces bouncing at high speed.
• This layer makes the mounting adapter light in weight, while providing extreme high flexural strength and form stability.
Chemical Resistant outer surface layer
• The 2 mm Outer Surface Layer is built with technical filaments and polyester fleece that is reinforced with Epoxy Vinyl-ester-resin.
• This layer provides high chemical and temperature resistance to our bridging sleeves.
Outer compressible surface layer
• The compressible surface layer for compressible soft adapters consists of cellular, water crossed-linked foamed polyurethane (water/isocyanate reaction).
• The outer layer of the soft flexo adapters is available in 40, 50 or 60 ShA and is produced in densities ranging from 300 – 650 kg/m3.
• This layer can be compressed up to 80% of its original height with limited bulging and minimal permanent set.
• Further outstanding properties of this compressible layer are:
o High rebound resilience
o Good abrasion resistance
o Large volume compressibility
o Resistance to aging and weathering
o High resistance to permanent deformation (also with dynamic loads)
Features and Benefits of a Tech Bridge
The use of high quality raw materials such as the combined arrangement of vinyl-ester epoxy resin with Tech Core material and Dyneema, provide high flexural strength and form stability to Tech Bridges, reducing the bouncing while at the same time ensuring a better resistance. Tech Bridge has been tested to produce high quality print result at high speeds of up to 800 m/minute. Moreover, a special and unique compound is used to ensure that Tech Bridge has high chemical and temperature resistance.
Apart from that, we also offer a lot of different features and options to ensure higher durability and easier mounting for our flexo adapters:
• A bayonet lock locks the bridge on the mandrel to make it inseparable. This allows the operator to mount the printing sleeve easily. The mounting adapter can also be demounted together with the sleeve by unlocking the bayonet lock.
• The outer metal ring reinforces the pin as the pressure is spread equally throughout the wide length of the metal ring, increasing its durability.
• Miller ball valves help in better air pressure distribution while mounting the sleeves on the bridge sleeves. It also makes long sleeve lengths suitable to combine with flexographic bridges.
• RFID chips and magnets can also be added to the flexographic adapters on request.
Tech Bridges are available as separate air or as air-through.
What different types of flexographic adapters do we offer?
At Tech Sleeves, we offer three different types of flexographic bridges depending on their use and application:
Tech Bridge® Hard
Hard flexographic bridges are simply used to increase the size of the mandrel in the press. A sleeve reaches its limitations after a certain wall thickness. Hard flexo adapters eliminate the need for sleeves with a high wall thickness by bridging the gap in the circumference. Moreover, they are light-weight when compared to thick walled sleeves, making it easier to handle. They are also cost-efficient.
1. Ultra-high strength, but light-weight
2. Designed for high speed printing
3. Immensely sturdy and extremely durable
Tech Bridge® Soft
Tech Bridges® Soft, or ‘Soft Adapters’ or ‘Soft Carriers’ are specialized products, used to print with In The Round sleeves (‘ITR’). These ‘seamless sleeves’ are generally used with traditional plate mounting for designs that need a continuous background colour, such as white or varnish. The soft outer layer of the adapter sleeves provide the compressibility needed for the required print impression.
1. High Chemical Resistance
2. Used with seamless sleeves for continuous background color.
3. Available in 40, 50 and 60 shore hardness.
Tech Bridge® Ultra Light
Tech Bridge Ultra Light is the latest development of Tech Sleeves designed with our patented technology to reduce the weight of the bridge adapter while not compromising with the printing performance. These ultra-light bridge adapters have a 3D printed core that allows us to:
1. Reduce the weight
2. Improve the performance
3. Customize the bridge adapters
All our bridge sleeves can be made conductive on request.
For more information about the bridges/adapters, please visit our product pages. And in case of questions, contact us!