Frank Termeulen
Consultant
DG press
1 year with the company
+31 (0) 313 67 1911
www.dgpress.nl


Marty Cansler
National Sales Manager
Max Daetwyler Corp.
23 years with the company
(704) 875-1000
www.daetwyler-usa.com

 

Q: What new techniques are available specifically for film labeling?

Termeulen: There are some new technologies introduced which will make it easier for flexographic printers to make their transition from flexo or gravure to the offset print technology. An often used argument against offset amongst flexographic printers is the complexity of the offset printing press. Compared to a flexo press, operators of web offset presses have much more options and variables to use, which is making the press flexible, but also complicated. These issues are being solved by recent developments in offset printing. Printing presses are getting smarter. New technology makes it possible to automatically control the temperature inside the printing unit, as well as measurement systems, which are automatically adjusting the colors to get the right values. Additionally, DG press recently introduced the possibility to run the web backwards through the printing press. This technique is cutting costs on the waste of the material, which is an important part of the total cost of usage, and is also an eco-friendly solution. 

Cansler: The correct choice and application of specialized doctor blades is to control ink film thickness. There is never a “one size fits all” choice when it comes to doctor blades. The industry is constantly adjusting to adapt to new challenges. The doctor blade must also adapt to the new press types, inks and anilox to ensure they all work together as a team to provide consistency. Our company takes a unique approach by allowing the printer to be involved with our field technicians to help us develop or modify a blade per his unique application. This could be blade thickness, tip configurations, specialized coatings, and materials.

 

Q: What is your company’s role in flexible packaging labeling?

Cansler: We are a manufacturer and provider of specialized doctor blades. Our core competency lies in specialized doctor blade coatings to help control issues like dot gain, UV ink spitting, score lines, and color consistency. 

Termeulen: DG press is a service company and manufacturer in the field of web offset printing presses. Although still quite new for flexographic printers, web offset has over 20 years of history for printing on film. The designers of the former Drent Goebel company, who are now working under the name of DG press, invented the VSOP web offset machine for film in 2004. This printing press was sold to more than 65 companies worldwide. Most of these machines were used for printing on flexible materials, such as in-mold labels and shrink sleeves. The first customers adopting this new way to print flexibles were print companies familiar to offset printing. Nowadays, the Dutch press builder DG press wants to reach a new market consisting of flexo and gravure print companies and convince them to use web offset machines for printing on film.

 

Q: Does your company have any new flexible packaging labeling developments?

Termeulen: The new Thallo web offset press is built for printing flexible packaging and labels. The machine offers quicker job changes and higher-quality products compared to machines based on flexo-print technology. Many parts and processes of a web offset printing press are unknown for companies who are operating in the market of flexible packaging. But compared to well-known web offset presses, the Thallo has some great new features to offer. The high-tech hybrid press also uses the strengths of other printing techniques, for example by using a flexo unit for lacquering and covering the printed material. Also, gravure, digital units, cold foil, screenprint, and more can be adapted to the machine layout, which offers printers much flexibility in their configuration.

Cansler: Most recently are two new coated doctor blades called IBOstar and IBOstar Plus. While we provide this market with premium-coated blades used for abrasive inks (like whites), this category of product may not fit every application. The cost versus performance ratio has to be in check. For this reason, we created a lower cost coated blade that can be used in multiple applications across film labeling. While the specialized IBO coating is designed to retain a clean edge to meter very fine films of ink, we found it holds up equally well on line and block solids. The universal application this blade offers makes it an ideal fit for flexible packaging labeling.

 

Q: Do you think anything is missing from this sector? If so, what?

Cansler: More interactive partnerships. New products only get to the market through testing. Well-controlled, finely tuned processes are important, but often a newly developed product must be “tested for fit.” Most recently we have had great success teaming together with press, ink and anilox manufactures in order to create partner products. We all know the strengths and weaknesses with our products (where they fit and where they don’t). By opening up to these associative suppliers, we are able to provide a better overall solution to the printer. One product may work great with type A anilox and type B inks, yet fail with other combinations. It therefore becomes important to work together to bring the largest overall benefit to the printer. 

Termeulen: Nowadays, brand owners use their packages more frequently to respond to events, which lowers the average order sizes and drives the demand for quicker job changes. Digital printing is looking very promising to these market trends, because of the possibility to provide variable data. But even with the huge investments of big companies made in the development of this technology, the conventional techniques still seem to be more profitable for average order sizes. Digital has taken part for the smallest order sizes, while flexo and gravure print technologies are providing the solution for the bigger order sizes. Web offset is the technology which fills up the gap between digital and flexo, due to the quick and low cost way of changing jobs. In general, web offset provides the solution for order sizes between 1,000 and 100,000 square meters. In the far future, this might be from 5,000 to 100,000 square meters, due to the emerging techniques of digital technology, but still a large gap also in the far future.