Pauline Covell reports from the European Rotogravure Association's international packaging conference in Bern

“At present the talk is of a renaissance of gravure in the packaging sector,” said ERA secretary general James Siever. If the record turnout of over a hundred delegates from key suppliers, converters and end users at the association’s “Gravure – key technology for strong brands” event last month is any yardstick he may well be right.

“It is not surprising that the market share of gravure is growing (2000: 20 per cent; 2002: 22 per cent) and that in package printing growing as dynamically as flexography was in the recent past,” he added. “With gravure packaging can be produced to consistent high quality with high colour brilliance – precisely what producers of brand name goods expect.”

Opening the conference ERA board member and deputy ceo of Amcor Flexibles John Durston stated: “Gravure is the technology of choice for major food brands.” Describing market changes, he told the conference: “We now have long run euro brands and short run own labels.” Both require high quality packaging. “Customers want individuality. The future is not mass production, but mass customization.” His company was addressing this with Forge – a tool designed to allow the customer to respond rapidly to the market it serves. In operation in two plants – one in Scotland and one in Spain – it focuses on 50 to 250 thousand impressions (average three hours on the press) and takes new designs down from two to three weeks’ lead time to 24 hours! Lightweight polymer sleeves, in-house supplier managing all origination, European built Japanese style presses (includes the UK’s first electronic lineshaft press), staff status workforce, reduced complexity and increased standardization typify Forge.

As well as an excellent two half days of informative presentations, the event featured two visits – Amcor Flexibles Schüpbach and MDC Max Dätwyler. And ERA chose the conference to present its Packaging Gravure Awards.

Best in Show award went to flexible packaging – plastics film and composites category award winner Alcan Packaging, for Pollard Banknote’s Living Large Lottery bag. The jury decided it “just could not fault” the entry printed on a Schiavi press using Sun’s ink. “Registration is superb even with the degree of difficulty and the detail that has had to be consistently held.” The substrate is polypropylene laminated to metallized PP – all from AET. Repro and engraving was by Southern Graphics. Brian Fulton & Shea created the “very testing design”.

Second award in the category was made to Huhtamaki Ronsberg, for Frozen Fish International’s Iglo Schlauchbeutel. “The result is truly inviting for the purchaser”. A Cerutti R 940 ran Siegwerk/Sun Chemical inks on PET/PE. Engraving and repro was by the converter and design by aestron.

Taking the flexible packaging – paper category commendation as well as a commendation for creative print design was Huhtamaki Ronsberg for its “superbly executed print” for Tchibo’s “Davidoff Rich Aroma” coffee. “Its simplicity belies the complexity of this crisp work” printed on a Cerutti R 940 using Siegwerk/Sun Chemical inks and M-real Alliance supplied substrate. The design by D’sign Concept Packaging Design “is, as it says on the pack, ‘Grand Cru'” said the jury.

Amcor Flexibles Envi received a commendation in the category for the DR+P Pepermunt brand of RBV-Leaf Oosterhout. A Rotomec 3000 press with in-line lamination was used, printing with Sun ink on Exxon Mobil film.

In the flexible packaging – metal foil category, Hueck Folien was commended for its work for lidding Crosse & Blackwell Snackstop. It is a “sharp quality print” produced on a BHS 10 press using inks from Siegwerk. Two commendations were given in the cartonboard category – both to Gestel Printing for two cartons for ITC India (India Kings and the Gold Flake). Both were printed on a Moog 740 x 1,040, 5 colour press using Sicpa-Aarberg/Sicpa UK solvent/water based inks with engraving and repro by Saueressig Vreden.

Saueressig took “the well deserved” speciality and security category award for its 3-D Micro-Embossing cylinders and sleeves. “The cylinders have unlimited configurable cell shapes, very thin line elements and microtexts.” Hueck Folien was awarded a commendation for its complex security blister product for Roemmers, Argentina. It was printed on a BHS 07 using Siegwerk inks on Hydro foil.

The highly prized innovation category went to an entry which “apparently shows a completely new application for gravure print”. Janoschka España received the award for submitting the offset gravure printing of MDF wood fibreboard. It was printed by Contrachapados Arándiga for Envases Hifeda on a Barberán PMP-R-4-1400.


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