Flexible Packaging Printer Remains Dedicated to Offset
Changeover process minimizes start-up waste and reduces downtime.
Quick changes are the core business of Wesselink Drukwerk, a high-quality Dutch packaging printer working in the food and non-food sectors. Despite specializing in flexible packaging, the company chose the offset route from the outset and still considers this as the key to its continued success.
“Using offset enables us to make very swift job or version changes at low cost,” comments Ben Wesselink, owner of Wesselink Drukwerk.
Now located in Lisserbroek in the heart of the Dutch floral industry and a short car ride from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Wesselink founded the company in 1976. After originally specializing in continuous forms and general business printing, and with trade under pressure more than 20 years ago, Wesselink noted forecasts for growth in packaging and decided to branch out.
Unsurprisingly, the company’s first foray was printing seed bags. Exploiting offset’s ability to print fine detail was an immediate winner and led to growth in commissions domestically and from abroad. It also resulted in work from new market sectors. When opportunities arose in the food market, Wesselink became certified with the BRC certificate, Grade AA.
Controlling Cost of Substrates
While remaining 100 percent dedicated to printing flexible substrates, including transparent material, paper laminates, plastic laminates and foils, Wesselink has progressively invested in new equipment and capabilities to keep expanding and upgrading its offering to clients. To complement production from a 10-color DG Vision press, this progression included investment in a 5-color, Thallo 850 hybrid web offset press with UV curing and one flexo unit in 2016.
As Wesselink explains, the rising costs of substrates was a prime motive for the investment. “Traditionally, changing runs and new job makeready is always when most waste occurs — and we specialize in very short runs, averaging in the region of 1,500 to 1,700 meters,” he comments. “In order to remain competitive and continue offering a compelling service for customers, we wanted the leanest solution possible. This was central to the decision to buy the Thallo press.”
One of the primary considerations in the original design of Thallo technology was how it could contribute to a lean production environment. As a consequence, every small detail of the system has been optimized for press up-time and minimizing waste. By using a second pass, some jobs Wesselink produces are printed seamlessly without a plate gap meaning that the greatest area of substrate is utilized.
Wesselink’s Thallo press has a maximum print width of 840 mm, just 10 mm less than the total machine width. For ultimate productivity, the company gangs jobs across the full web, ensuring the absolute minimum of substrate is left unused.
The sleeves also allow easy and cost-effective printing of different repeat lengths because there’s no need to change the unit or print cartridge, so a new job can be started in just a few minutes. To add to the benefits, the latest generation sleeve design delivers improved repeatability and an even longer lifespan than the original, at a more competitive price.
Flexibility For The Future
As well as the low-waste pedigree of the Thallo, its modular inline platform was also of high importance to Wesselink due to the flexibility it could provide for future production requirements. The configuration can be easily adapted to meet changes in market demands or to incorporate another process or ancillary unit, for example, an additional offset, flexo or rotogravure station, should the printer need to add a new special color or coating capability.
“We’re still very much a growing business so we need to make sure we remain versatile and responsive to the market,” comments Wesselink, “Our signature is of course our offset quality. Our clients appreciate the fine detail and subtle gradients we can achieve, but we don’t have a crystal ball. It’s important to stay alert, watch the trends and be in a position to anticipate change. The Thallo will be fundamental to our future.”
Thallo web offset systems are produced and distributed under a strategic partnership between Contiweb and DGpress Service.
DGpress Services, www.dgpressservices.com
5 Reasons to Use Offset
Offset is not the most commonly used technology for printing flexible packaging and labels. However, because the accent today in converting is increasingly on achieving fast setup times, quick job changeovers and highest printing quality, the advantages of offset printing technology have become particularly relevant. Here are five reasons to consider using offset to print flexible packaging.
SHORTER RUN LENGTHS
The market for printing flexible packaging is growing, but run lengths are becoming smaller. Press speed and material costs are no longer dominant, determining profit margins. Performance now revolves around job changeovers. This is exactly the reason why offset technology is a perfect fit. Offset plates can be produced in-house, much quicker and more economically than flexo plates and gravure cylinders. They can be changed in just two minutes per printing unit, using the variable sleeve system.
Also, because offset prints high definition line screens, it is possible to print a higher gamut of colors with a standardized 7-color process. There is therefore less need for changing inks in the press. Offset also can produce different color densities right next to each other. Zonal density control makes it possible to combine similar jobs in the web width in one production run.
EXCELLENT PRINT QUALITY
Marketers look for new ways to grab attention, and packaging is an important instrument. Offset delivers excellent print quality. It is possible to print in high resolution and extremely tight register, allowing brands to achieve stand out shelf appeal. Also, flexo or gravure printing units can be integrated into the offset press line, allowing the advantages of the various printing techniques in a single pass.
Ink migration is a prime concern for brand owners and converters. The slightest hint of change on a packed product could have huge ramifications and cause long-term damage to a brand. Electron-Beam /Ultra-Violet offset is a solution for converters operating in the food packaging industry with a wide variety of proven chemistries (inks and coatings) and curing solutions. Both curing options meet the requirements of food safety and can be applied to offset printing technology.
Brand owners and consumers increasingly call for environmentally friendly products. Packaging printers can contribute to this demand by offering offset printed packaging and labels. In offset printing for packaging, highly viscose energy curable inks (Electron-Beam/Ultra-Violet) are used. These inks have the major environmental advantage that they do not contain solvents or a water component that needs to be evaporated using energy and gas consuming installations.
Offset technology can help a printer to stand out from the pack, providing customers with premium print solutions that meet new demands in a