Each print process has its strengths
At one time, the question of which method was best suited for packaging printing was the subject of fierce debate. Today, the product differentiation needed at the point of sale has piqued the creativity of brand article manufacturers to such an extent that all the options offered by modern technology are now exploited. The upshot is an array of truly exciting technological concepts. Although the effects of emissions have been widely investigated, achieving globally accepted solutions to reduce them is extremely difficult. The ecological benefits of the UV printing process are beyond question. The inks are solvent-free; they do not dry in the inking unit; powder spraying is not necessary; and further processing can proceed immediately. In addition, UV inks also offer high gloss levels.
MDC Max Daetwyler is backing laser engraving as the technology of the future. In addition to the visible advantages in the gravure, major savings are expected in the pressroom. Cylinder manufacturers such as Janoschka and Saueressig will be supplying more and more laser engraved cylinders to the gravure market down the line. With its new gravure printing cassettes, Nilpeter is focusing primarily on the use of gold and silver printing inks. The integration of gravure opens up further market segments for narrow web label production: offset combined with other packaging print methods, UV flexo with gravure for flexible packaging; in-line precoating of packaging materials; in-line silicone coating; very fine screens in gravure printing in one form with solid areas.
Advances are also being made in the field of UV inkjet technology. UV curing inkjet inks are already being used successfully with the popular Xaarjet-500 print head on board and non absorbent materials such as plastics, metal or glass. A process still in its infancy is digital gravure. In this, the depressions in a hollow gravure cylinder are heated from the inside by a laser beam, causing a gas bubble to form which ‘shoots’ the ink out of the depressions and onto the material to be printed. A prototype system being built by Mainz based Aurentum will be capable of using normal gravure inks.
These examples show that, this drupa year, it’s full steam ahead for the packaging print market.
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