More Label for Your Buck

A printer installs a miniature glued booklet system to meet FDA labeling mandates for more-detailed information on product labels.

Fasanella collects glued booklets as they exit the trimming unit.

FDA mandates for more information on pharmaceutical labeling continue to pose new challenges for drug manufacturers, who are turning to their printers for solutions. To meet industry needs, the pharmaceutical printer Pharmaceutic Litho & Label Co. (Chatsworth, CA) installed a miniature glued booklet system from Vijuk Equipment Inc. (Elmhurst, IL).

While the size of bottles and vials has essentially remained the same, the size of accompanying booklets, inserts, outserts, and stand-alone leaflets has increased dramatically. Senior-friendly labeling that calls for larger, more-readable type has further complicated the problem. According to Tom Moore, president of Pharmaceutic Litho & Label, addressing these copy space requirements in cost-effective formats compatible with existing packaging poses unique production challenges, particularly in bindery operations. At the same time, it also reinforces the importance of maintaining cohesive working relationships with customers.

Diane Lammersen, bindery manager, says the Vijuk unit was selected after comparisons were made with similar but more expensive and larger systems requiring customization to meet the company's needs. She notes that the other systems were incapable of producing booklets as small or with as many pages as Vijuk's miniature booklet system (MBS).

The MBS helped the company raise its quality standards and limit rejects by continuously measuring the height profile of the glue line applied to the booklet spine throughout high-speed production processes. Because the glue is clear, it is virtually impossible to visually detect whether glue has been applied. "If glue is not applied, the glue-detection system automatically stops the machine and alerts us that there's a problem," explains Moore. Vijuk's MBS solved the problem with its ability to detect a dot of glue as small as 0.032 in.

Folder technician–MBS specialist David Fasanella characterizes the system as a "one-stop process." He says, "Parallel folds are made, and the glue is applied. Next it is put into a knife fold, and then there's one last right-angle fold. The booklet then travels into an in-line, five-knife booklet trimmer where it's trimmed to the correct size."

"Before the new system, the largest number of pages we could produce for a glued spine was 12," says Fasanella. The Vijuk MBS is capable of making miniature booklets of up to 40 pages as small as 2 ¼ x 2 in. The system also features a special unit to crimp the pages and keep them from opening during label application.

Pharmaceutic Litho & Label operates five Vijuk-SVA 35 series miniature folders. The miniature folders offer a number of time-saving make-ready features, including spring-loaded rollers that dramatically speed up and simplify the machine changeover process. The company reports running their miniature folders between 4000 and 20,000 pieces per hour, depending on the job.

Ed Bergmann, flexo production manager, says, "In terms of production, you have a lot of options. The machine can be set up to run in parallel, without the trimming function, or without the knife fold. It's not often you come across one machine that can handle such a varied range of work."

The company also runs a pair of Vijuk mv-97 outsert attachments for spot-gluing leaflets. By folding the edges inward, the miniature folder attachment enables outserts to be spot-glued for a more compact leaflet size. Additionally, the inward fold enables the outserts to withstand the rigors of high-speed packaging lines. These miniature outsert leaflets can be securely affixed directly to the outside of bottles or other small items, thereby eliminating the need for additional packaging.

Citing an expected 20% increase in business for the coming year, Moore credits the MBS and its glue-detection capability for solving one of their customers' biggest packaging problems. He says, "As is so often the case in the graphic reproduction field, here's another instance of technology coming to the rescue."

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