ARC International Invests In A New Sleeve Division

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Company to Produce Nickel-Based Sleeves for Flexographic, Digital and Offset Presses


Our customers were in need of a reliable alternative to the fiberglass sleeves that had been the norm early on in sleeve development.

ARC International, one of the western hemisphere’s largest producers of rollers for printing and corrugating presses, today announced it has begun full time production of nickel-based sleeves for printing plates. Although the people at ARC have forty years of experience in manufacturing sleeves and rotary screens, this new sleeve division represents a significant investment in the research, technology and skilled craftsmanship required to produce high quality sleeves for nearly every plate mandrel in use today across the Americas.

“There has been a marked uptick in the use of sleeves by printers in recent years,” said Micheal Foran, CEO of ARC International. “Our customers were in need of a reliable alternative to the fiberglass sleeves that had been the norm early on in sleeve development.”

Sleeve technology was introduced first to gravure printing decades ago. Instead of removing the print plate roller to change plates between jobs, a sleeve can be prepared ahead of time. The regular print plate roller is replaced by a mandrel designed to hold sleeves. At changeover, the old sleeve is removed and new sleeve installed while the mandrel remains on press. Their key advantage to printers today is that they allow the plate roller to be prepared in advance while another job is running, making plate changeover much faster. That means their downtime is reduced and profits increased.

New sleeves are made to fit tightly on the mandrel. But because compressed air is used to temporarily enlarge the sleeve diameter in order to install it, glass fiber sleeves begin to fatigue over time. This causes microscopic cracks and pinholes that can make mounting these sleeves more difficult or impossible.

“That’s why we’ve focused on electroformed nickel-based sleeves,” Foran remarked. “Nickel is more flexible and has ‘memory.’ Repeated mounts and dismounts of the sleeve don’t cause the kind of deterioration you see in glass fiber.” The electroforming process also ensures that the sleeve’s inner diameter matches the mandrel’s outer diameter to within one micrometer. That ensures a consistency from sleeve to sleeve. Electroformed metals are also extremely pure and multiple layers are bonded together molecularly for added integrity and durability.

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Ashley Foran
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