Print machine solutions for Can, bottle & cylinder decoration

Axzyra offers a range of solutions from short run prototyping & samples right upto fully automated larger run printers for cans, cups & bottles.

The Market

What is digital cylinder printing?

You may be familiar with traditional digital printing, which may be printing paper. In our case, we’re doing a lot of flat products or three-dimensional products where you’ve got an inkjet head just going over a flat product. In this case, we’ve figured out ways to have inkjet dropped on a cylinder which is as you might expect, much more complex. And what makes it even more complex, they’re not just straight cylinders. In many cases, they’re tapered products, which is very narrow at the top and wider at the bottom or other shapes.

The challenge is the need to try to keep the product itself, and at the same distance away from the printhead for the best quality & resolution

The drinkware market is the main focus at the moment. Metal sports refillable drinks bottles to drink out of, that’s typically tapered and the trick is to be able to position it flat to the printhead. So all the printhead sees is a flat item and then also be able to drop inkjet drops around the cylinder in the right location on a taper, this is where the graphic manipulation is incredibly complex.


Traditionally there have been other types of processes that will print on cylinders like this. What are the benefits of digital printing versus another technology like screen printing for cylinders?

Screen printing has been the industry standard for cylinders and tapered products forever and it’s a very good process. It can be a high speed process. It can go into production very easily. Where digital cylinder printing comes in is when you want to go to shorter runs and multi-colour. Where you can actually go with digital cylinder printing from printing one off.

That could be for an internet retailer, but so you can print your face or name or your dog on there, to short run, which we consider up to, anything up to maybe 5,000 pieces with multi-colour. With screen printing you’ve got set up the screens, you have to colour match the ink, you’ve got to register the colours.

So where inkjet really begins to shine is when it’s two colours or more I would say. One colour, it’s probably 50/50 whether or not you want to go digital, certainly two colours or more on any cylinders are a great way to go.

Screen printing is fine if you’re running 80,000+ pieces, you got that one time setup and that setup could take you five or six hours. But imagine trying to do that setup for 50 pieces. It’s just very impractical. So in this day and age with stock where people are trying to reduce their inventory, so therefore the order counts are down. It’s an on demand society. People want what they want when they want it and digital is a perfect solution for it.

Types of UV Cylindrical Printer Technology

What types of UV cylindrical printer technology are there and what are the benefits of each of them?

There are three different types we currently offer:

Is an indexing method, which is a really, it’s a very, very slow method where you’re actually placing the item on rollers on a flatbed and the table moves and the part indexes piece by piece by piece. It’s a very slow technology. But it is great for samples & small production or just dipping your toe in the market with a little investment. As an example Apache GH4545 with rotary attachment.

Is the method that we’ve employed, which is printing, which is where the head stays stationary and the product moves by the head. And therefore the inkjet drops have to actually drop on the cylinder. . And the benefit to that is, because it’s a lot of benefits, but the two primary benefits is that you can print images that are very tall, taller than the width of the print head, which is typically 70mm And you can print anything 80 mm diameter standard and the height up to 250 mm because you’re just moving the product by it. And then the second thing is you’re able to interlace the drops or the inkjet drops along the way, so you cover up for any missing nozzles. You get very high quality print. As an example the AX-Spin RP 70 with one row of single pass print heads that step across the length of the item.

Is, I would call it single pass printing. So single pass, you basically the part is stationary and the head is stationary in the way you achieve high speeds as you put multiple heads in line with the part. So for example, you’ve got a five inch, want to print on a beer can let’s say. So you’d have to have two heads for cyan, two heads for magenta, two heads for black, and you’d be able to spin it right in front of it. Each station has one and you’d spin the part right in front of each station. It’s incredibly fast. It’s very fast because you’re not wasting any time moving the part. It’s a fast technology and its issues with it. I would say the benefit is that it’s fast. The issues with it would say it’s very expensive and you’ve got so many printheads to manage. And then thirdly, image quality can be an issue because if you’re missing one nozzle out of 300 on each printhead, you can see a stripe in the print. You can literally see where it didn’t print because there’s nothing there.

Single pass printing is more for industrial applications where the image quality is not as important. Rotary is when you want to get less expensive equipment with high quality imaging and then the hot dog rollers for the convenience store.

As an example the AX-Spin RP2 – 240.


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