Home » New Printing Techniques for the Labels Industry
Steve Schulte of Mark Andy Inc. offers his insight into the labeling sector of flexible packaging. He has been with the company since 2005, and has over 15 years of experience in the packaging and printing industry.
Q: Please briefly explain your company’s role in the label/labeling market for flexible packaging.
Schulte: Mark Andy has been providing printing equipment to the label production market for more than 65 years. Over the years, the product line has expanded, both to address trends in labels and packaging and to support our primary goal of keeping converters productive and profitable.
The design expertise of Mark Andy was augmented when the company acquired Comco in 2001, further enhancing its market knowledge and engineering proficiency.
Mark Andy is the recipient of multiple innovation awards for its contributions to the flexo market and look forward to continuing to push the envelope in converter productivity and profitability.
Q: What new printing techniques are available for the labels industry, specifically for flexible packaging labeling?
Schulte: Printing and laminating is typically a two-step process for the traditional wide-web printers, while the label industry tends to combine the processes. On narrow- and mid-web presses, in-line laminating with UV has been the norm for flexible packaging labels, as these labels typically have a barrier between the label and the product. This process of in-line lamination has been a focal point for new technologies recently.
More and more presses with the ability to print and laminate thin films are being installed in the traditional label market. These presses have the ability to print extremely high-quality work on films as thin as .0005 inches.
For the presses without this capability, there have been film structures introduced that allow the converter to print and laminate in line using creative techniques like delaminating, printing and laminating of the film structures. This gives a finished product similar to what can be produced by the traditional method.
Q: What is your company’s newest product(s)?
Schulte: Mark Andy continues to innovate and design equipment that fits the flexible packaging market. With the introduction of the Versa Max press in 2013, Mark Andy has expanded its product line specifically into the flexible packaging market. Mark Andy's 26-inch Versa Max press is capable of printing 12 micron films consistently at speeds up to 1200 fpm, and is capable of various types of in-line lamination including UV, Electron Beam, solventless, water and solvent-based.
In addition, Mark Andy also offers the Rotoflex VLI, an offline finishing solution for films and flexible packaging. The equipment is offered in widths up to 28.25 inches and, when configured with options such as dual rewind, lay-on (ironing) rollers and static eliminators, the VLI becomes an ideal machine for handling unsupported films and flexible packaging. Powered by URC 2.0, the control system recently introduced and unique to Rotoflex equipment, the VLI offers even more advanced inspection accuracy, a robust operator interface and the flexibility to integrate with a variety of third-party peripherals and vision systems.
Q: What do you believe is missing from this sector?
Schulte: Servo presses designed for the wide-web, long-run segment of this market, as well as label presses designed for flexible packaging have been in use for several years. But meeting short- and medium-sized runs has remained a challenge.
Presses utilizing the latest servo technology and high-speed drying for water or solvent-based inks in the mid-web sector that are specific for the short- to medium-run flexible packaging market have been missing from this segment until this year.
What’s changed about this year’s PACK EXPO International because of the pandemic? Nothing! Well, just the name. And format. But you can still make connections and see the latest trends. Get the lowdown on PACK EXPO Connects with Flexible Packaging’s preview in the October issue! Also, see how Midwest values helped bring two companies together when one of them was looking to bring pouch converting in-house. Find out what’s driving automation investments for converters and much more!