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Peristaltic pump eliminates printing machine breakdowns

17 June 2011

A specialist print media company has installed peristaltic pump technology from Watson-Marlow Pumps Group to eradicate issues with printing machine breakdowns caused by failures to its previous air-operated diaphragm pump. The move has also reduced the need for ongoing maintenance.

Bristol-based Portishead Press is a family run print media business established some 40 years ago. Offering both digital and conventional (litho) printed communications, the company has found a strong niche in short-to-medium runs, providing everything from brochures and newsletters, to corporate stationary. With a diverse customer portfolio that ranges from the NHS to the University of Bristol, the company is maintaining its market position and looking to expand in the near future.

To build a sound platform for growth, Portishead Press knew it had to address an ongoing issue with its five-colour printing machine. The machine offers the traditional four-colour process (CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow, black), plus a coating to seal the ink. The coating dries by oxidation and hence must be kept agitated. Here, a pump is used to keep it flowing around the system via a special trough.

Until recently the company used an air-operated diaphragm (AOD) pump for this duty, but not without difficulties.

“The AOD pump was fine when it was clean and new, but it soon became quite high maintenance,” explains the company’s production director Andy Povey. “The coating, which is a caustic solution, causes the seals to go – we were replacing them every few months. We’d had the machine six years and this issue never went away. Eventually enough was enough.”

The coating is a styrene acrylic polymer, which would leak into the machine’s bearings when the seals on the AOD pump perished. The bearings would seize causing the printing machine to stop with significant delays as a result. And there was another problem: the AOD pumping action thickened the coating during the agitation process, creating bubbles that were sucked back down the return pipe leading to frothing issues.

“We needed a pump that could move the coating fluid quickly, without introducing air,” says Mr Povey.

After searching the internet, the company came across Watson-Marlow Pumps Group and its range of innovative peristaltic pumps. In peristaltic pump technology nothing but the tube touches the fluid, eliminating the risk of the pump contaminating the fluid or vice versa. Fluid is drawn in, trapped between two rollers and finally expelled. It is the complete closure of the tube that gives the pump its positive displacement action.

A team from Portishead Press visited Watson-Marlow’s headquarters in Falmouth to see a pump in action. Satisfied it could meet the company’s requirements, Watson-Marlow engineers helped Mr Povey specify a suitable model, recommending the 621VIX/RE close coupled peristaltic pump.

“It was installed 18 months ago and we haven’t touched it,” says a pleased Mr Povey. “Watson-Marlow explained that the tubes will need replacing at some stage. This only takes five minutes but we haven’t even needed to do this yet!”

Furthermore, the issue of frothing has also been solved. The 621 series peristaltic pump provides gentle, low shear fluid handling, so avoiding air entrainment, and the issue of frothing is circumvented.

The pump is self-priming and intuitive to set-up and use. It has independent flow control in terms of forward and reverse, as well as electronic speed control.

“Shortly after installation, Watson-Marlow sent an engineer to check the pump’s performance – the service and support has been really good,” concludes Mr Povey. “The pump is not only saving us money, it ensures continuity of service for our customers, which is priceless.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT Heather Beale :

WATSON-MARLOW PUMPS GROUP
T: 01326 370 370
e: heatherbeale@watson-marlow.co.uk
Web: www.wmpg.co.uk
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