Rotogravure Line (Roto or Gravure for short) is a type of intaglio printing process, which involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. In gravure printing, the image is engraved onto a cylinder because, like offset printing and flexography, it uses a rotary printing press. Once a staple of newspaper photo features, the rotogravure process is still used for commercial printing of magazines, postcards, and corrugated (cardboard) product packaging.
In a conventional gravure printing press, each unit comprises of Rotogravure Line:
- The first step of Gravure is to create the cylinder with the engraved images that need to be printed: the engraving process will create on the cylinder surface the cells that will contain the ink in order to transfer it to the paper. Since the amount of ink contained in the cells corresponds to different colour intensities on the paper, the dimensions of the cells must be carefully set: deeper cells will produce more intensive colours whereas less deep cells will produce less intensive ones.
- There are three methods of photoengraving that have been used for engraving of gravure cylinders, where the cell open size or the depth of cells can be uniform or variable.
- The layout of a gravure printing press follows an in-line arrangement where the required number of printing units is installed along a horizontal plane.
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- Printing cylinder: a seamless tubular sleeve or full cylinder, made from either steel, aluminum, plastic, or composite material, which is engraved with the image to be printed
- Doctor blade: the device that removes ink from the non-engraved portions of the printing cylinder and also removes excess ink from the engraved sections
- Impression roller: a rubber covered sleeve that is mounted on a steel mandrel. Its primary purpose is to press the substrate against the printing cylinder
- Inking system: consisting of an ink pan, ink holding tank, and ink pump with supply and return ink pipes
- Drying system: consisting of a chamber which dries the ink once it is on the substrate and prior to it reaching the next printing unit. Drier capacities are determined based on the required printing speed, ink type (solvent or water based), and ink lay down volume.
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