DS Smith Packaging’s £6 million investment in its Lockerbie plant has been offically opened by HRH the Duke of Kent. The investment has turned the plant, already the leading litho laminating facility in the UK, into the largest such operation in Europe. The company says this investment enables it to respond to the continuing growth of this specialised area of corrugated packaging.

Forefront of the investment is a 7-colour KBA litho press, which is housed in a special print room within the 6800m2 extension. The press, acknowledged to be the largest sheet fed litho press in Europe, is equipped with two additional varnish stations capable of applying UV and/or emulsion coatings. Housed alongside is a 6-colour KBA press, recently moved from a satellite plant in Carlisle.

Smith says the driver for the high specification of this press is the growth in demand for high quality litho printing across a wide product range. As distribution packs increasingly take on the role of shelf-ready retail packs, so the twin requirements of robust transit packaging and high profile presentation display need to be combined into multi-role packs.

The new press has the facility to print direct onto fine fluted board such as N flute as well as on substrates for laminating onto heavier fluted material.

“We are unwilling to discount any one product area as having potential for litho laminated packs”, says Lockerbie’s managing director, Bob Thomson, “and with this print investment, have established a versatility which is equally attractive to low volume capital goods as to high turnover food and beverage products.”

Smith says a key factor for the new print facility is the development of ink technology. The company has acquired a licence for MetalFX, an ink system achieving metallic finishes from conventional CMYK colours, which is said to offer a cost-effective alternative to metallised material and foil blocking.