Flexibility, Speed & Ease of Use Take Center Stage at PACK EXPO International 2014
The future of package printing lies in fast, flexible and smart technologies. Recently manufacturers are striving to meet growing consumer demand for products tailored to the needs and preferences of different market segments split by region, gender, age and a multitude of demographics. As the mass manufacturing of one-size-fits-all products gives way to small, diverse batch production, companies must equip themselves with package printing technologies that maximize flexibility, speed and control.
For brand managers, this year’s PACK EXPO International 2014 (Nov. 2-5, 2014; McCormick Place, Chicago) will offer an array of new technologies, enhancements and educational insights for package printing, labeling, and coding and marking. Co-located with Pharma EXPO, a new show co-produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, and the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), the two shows will feature 2,000 exhibitors and attract roughly 50,000 attendees.
PACK EXPO and Pharma EXPO attendees will find many package printing solutions in The Brand Zone, an area dedicated exclusively to brand-enhancing packaging materials, containers, advanced print effects and design resources. As just one of PACK EXPO’s customer-centric features, The Brand Zone helps attendees maximize their time at the event.
Some of the technologies on display will include recently-launched digital capabilities that hold the promise of reducing the time to market for new products. Other technologies include new high-speed inkjet equipment, as well as in-mold labeling options that offer improved product protection. Attendees will also find new Ethernet and mobile technologies for remote monitoring and troubleshooting of manufacturing lines.
High-speed and Highly Flexible
One of the biggest names in laser and continuous inkjet printing technologies, Domino Amjet, Inc. (Booth #S-3502), will exhibit new, high-speed equipment for beverage labeling.
“Manufacturers are demanding solutions for applications, like beverage labeling, that require high-speed and flexibility,” says Bill Bonaccorsi, Domino Amjet’s director of marketing. “A company needs the versatility to do a run of 12-ounce bottles and then switch to different bottle sizes using the same line. Through our product evolution, we are able to do print runs at twice the speed of earlier technologies.”
Bonaccorsi adds that the company’s recent market additions have come with a more intuitive common interface that simplifies use and reduces training times.
Domino Amjet recently introduced the A520i continuous inkjet printer, which offers high speeds and a 316-stainless steel outer casing. The casing is designed for harsh production environments and washdowns for various food, beverage and dairy applications. It also has IP66 protection for dust and water. The company also plans to feature at its booth the new D-series laser iTech 15 scanhead, which Bonaccorsi says has the largest laser print area on the market. Also on exhibit will be the V230i thermal transfer overprinter, which requires no plant air and is designed for lower cost of ownership.
A Digital Revolution
Hewlett-Packard (Booth #S-4271) will demonstrate some of the new technologies from its digital printing portfolio, including Indigo and Scitex presses for labels, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging applications. The technologies are also suited to corrugated retail-ready packaging. HP recently launched its Indigo 20000 Digital Press for continuous-fed packaging applications, and Indigo 30000 Digital Press for sheet-fed packaging applications, which accommodate 30-inch wide film rolls, with up to 44-inch repeat length.
According to Simon Lewis, director of strategic marketing for HP’s Indigo division, the new presses represent an “industrial revolution” for the package printing industry.
“This brings digital printing into areas that were previously analog, and with this comes benefits such as reducing waste to nearly zero and speeding time-to-market,” he says. “Marketing campaigns can be far more nimble, and they can include regional variations. It moves us from mass production to mass customization.”
HP’s Scitex FB10000 Industrial Press uses a proprietary High Dynamic Range (HDR) print technology, which according to the company provides the quality and speed required by traditional offset applications with digital efficiency.
“Retail-ready packaging, versioning due to SKU proliferation and localization, and shortened campaign durations pose significant challenges for traditional print,” says Ken VanHorn, Category Manager for HP Scitex. “Digital print technology with minimal make-ready time, substrate versatility and high quality makes it possible to not only produce profitable short runs and same-day prototyping, but also frees up capacity for longer runs more suitable for traditional printing presses.”
Also at the show, LabelPack Automation (Booth #E-8862) will be showcasing its integrated services for package printing as well as a new electric print-and-apply tamp label applicator. According to Robert Marasco, vice president of sales, the new applicator can be used for sensitive applications with no air pressure. He says most printing systems require 80psi of air or more for labeling.
LabelPack Automation designs and builds equipment for labeling almost any product, and it works closely with manufacturers of print engines, scanners, hot stamp coders, ink jets, case erectors and sealers to customize solutions, according to Marasco. Part of the company’s customization includes wide use of digital printing capabilities.
“We’re working with customers and our partners to develop printing solutions that run at four to five times the speed of standard digital printing, which allows our customers to be more competitive,” Marasco says. “These digital systems require no plate changes, and everything can be done ‘on the fly,’ from the copy to barcodes to variable imprinting.”
Package printing and labeling operations that can be remotely monitored enable faster troubleshooting, giving users 24/7 access to operations from a smart phone, tablet, or PC, offering the potential for greater control. To help lines run more efficiently, Diagraph, an ITW Company (Booth #S-3304), is offering the new Linx 7900 continuous inkjet (CIJ) printer with Linx Insight remote web control software. The software allows users to monitor production lines remotely and make commands to connected printers. Diagraph manufactures and distributes ink jet coders, laser coders and automated labeling systems to a number of markets including food and beverage, household goods, personal care, and wire and cable.
“Customers are demanding ease of use and connectivity in addition to best in class products,” says Chris Pangallo, product manager, CIJ and laser products for Diagraph. “Linx Insight software helps manufacturers take more control of production lines. The software allows you to download or upload messages from a PC to the Linx 7900, and even monitor it from your smart phone.”
Diagraph’s All-Electric Printer applicators offer multiple solutions with just one system. According to Steve Dods, Product Manager for ALP and TTO product lines, Diagraph’s E-FASA swing arm solution is capable of either applying two labels on two adjacent panels or a single wrap-around label to a front and side panel. Customers can switch between either method at any time, and the switch is easily made through the user interface.
Diagraph also has solutions for manufacturers who are trying to find more ways to improve sustainability efforts and reduce material use.
“Many customers are now operating tray packs with just a single corrugate sheet on the bottom, which means traditional inkjet and tamp application methods are no longer viable options,” Dods says. “To address this new packaging, our High Speed Tamp (HST) options allow complete label adherence to contoured substrates.”
In-mold Labeling Innovation
Nypro (Booth #N-5775) customizes differentiated plastics packaging, from conceptualization to design, for leading consumer product brands. Joe Stodola, Nypro’s vice president for business development, says many consumer brands are moving away from round and to differently-shaped packages that utilize in-mold labeling (IML) and some with special barrier protections. Dairy is one example, he notes, where there’s a move to non-round IML packaging.
Nypro’s Radius and internal development groups have worked with brand managers to engineer packaging, and Stodola says that a number of brand owners are leveraging decorative IML capabilities with high-end graphics to help brands stand out on the store shelf.
Nypro is developing another type of packaging that uses co-injection molding technology to incorporate an EVOH-barrier package to protect the food or beverage while on shelf.
“This will extend the freshness of food products without a secondary bag seal, and it works better than standard propylene,” Stodola says. “Barrier packaging is nothing new, whether it’s glass or tin, but this is the first time we’re able to create barrier packaging in a high-volume, in a thin-walled injection molded format.”
For label and flexible packaging company Precision Press (Booth #N-6169), laminated IML labels offer unique benefits of barrier properties, scratch-resistance, and FDA compliance for food contact. According to Tim Goserud, director, sales and marketing for the company’s packaging division, there is a growing need for IML solutions developed with unique materials that offer specific barrier properties.
Precision Press’ web offset print process combined with the most precise die cutting technology in the industry gives them a distinct advantage producing laminated IML labels with functional capabilities vs. the more common IML sheet –fed only printers.
“Our lamination capabilities give us more options for creating labels that have UV-, oxygen-, and moisture-barrier properties, along with abrasion resistance. Besides protecting from many migration scenarios, we can add high definition decoration to these labels,” says Goserud.
At the show, Precision Press will be discussing new in-house molding prototyping technologies. Goserud says these new capabilities will offer proof of concept with minimal investment, helping brand managers get new IML packaging to market more quickly.
New Serialization and Adhesives Technology
For the global pharmaceutical industry, serialization will continue to be a major line upgrade challenge for the coming years. Weiler Labeling Systems (Booth #S-4172) has developed two solutions for the high-speed printing of serialized codes on labels prior to application, including the SPS-200 print stand for existing labeling equipment, and the new X-4S labeling head for new WLS labelers. Weiler specializes in pressure-sensitive labeling, with the majority of its business coming from the pharmaceutical market and the remainder coming from the consumer products, food and beverage markets.
At the show, WLS will be introducing the new RL-840N rotary labeler which utilizes patented activatable adhesive technology developed by NuLabel Technologies. This labeler applies cut-and-stack labels that have a dry adhesive pre-coated onto the label. The labels are activated by a clean, water-based, glue-free spray just prior to application.
“This is done using our continuous-motion rotary platforms, and the technology eliminates the use of cold glue and the associated problems typically seen with cut and stack labelers,” says Philippe Maraval, vice president of sales and marketing. “It minimizes the need for cleaning and reduces downtime. We feel that this technology will transform the cut-and-stack labeling approach in the future as users experience higher overall equipment effectiveness.”
To register for PACK EXPO International 2014, visit packexpo.com. Registration is $30 prior to Oct. 3, 2014, and $60 thereafter.
PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, is a trade association representing over 650 packaging and processing supply chain companies that provide a full range of packaging and processing machinery, materials, components and containers. PMMI actively brings buyers and sellers together through programs and events such as The PACK EXPO family of trade shows, packexpo.com, PMT Magazine, PACK EXPO Show Daily, networking events and educational programs. For more information, visit PMMI.org or Packexpo.com.