Americk Packaging has six sites across the UK and Ireland supplying a full range of packaging solutions including: cartons, punnets and trays, produce packaging, flexibles, reel-fed labels and self-adhesive label manufacturing.
The consortium group consisting of what is now the Americk Packaging Haverhill site, AVT, Apex, Dupont, Esko, Flint Group, Bobst (formally Gidue) and UPM Raflatac set out with a single aim: To pool their know-how and resources to push flexography beyond its current limitations and challenge digital as the main short run print technology. This was quite a task given the hype and pressures for short to medium run printers and converters to invest in expensive digital presses.
In essence the decision to enhance flexo over investing in digital is best described by Haverhill technical director, Daragh Whelan. “With a fully automated prepress department already in place digital seemed like the natural choice. The benefits of reduced lead time, stock holding and improved print quality ticked all the boxes.
“However after analysing our print runs digital was not the right solution but we knew we had to change our current flexo offering. With fully servo machines it was apparent that conventional flexo machine manufacturers had come a long way. Digital flexo from Bobst was our chosen technology to bridge the gap between digital and flexo.
“Having a fully automated press allows us to integrate a solvent-free laminator inline to reduce our lead times for flexible packaging. Our customers can also see the finished laminated product at press pass stage. Our state-of-the-art studio and in-house HD plate-making enables production of laminated flexible packaging products within a few days of receiving new artwork.
“Thanks to the cooperation of Bobst, we utilised their digital flexo technology to allow the key press operations including set up, production and quality control to be performed automatically with no need of manual intervention from the operator. A digital camera present on each print unit ‘reads’ the print quality and substitutes the eyes of the operator, while seven servo-motors substitute the fingers of the operator, digitally adjusting the print pressures and registration. This advanced technology provides consistent quality with shorter lead times.”
The REVO consortium has developed an alternative to gravure in terms of quality. Whilst reducing the cost for short to medium run label and flexible products, it is apparent that digital flexo is more than a process, indeed it has changed the way the Haverhill plant operates. The resulting REVO technology uses low migration flexo inks, digital automation from pre-press to printing process and an extended colour gamut that allows the achievement of repeatable and predictable PMS shades without changing aniloxes and inks. The solution also provides data on colour, density and Delta-E values throughout the run giving customer’s confidence of the quality.
Sales and marketing director, Steve Knight, commented: “A wider colour gamut means we can achieve more colours and accurately reproduce specific imagery achieving stand-out designs for our customers. Given the competitive environment our customer base, this is seen as a real plus. In a nutshell, adding value whilst reducing lead times.”
In summary the REVO solution has delivered consistency and the ability to print HD Flexo; it is certainly a different kind of digital.