The program drew more than 100 attendees from across Europe, as well as a US delegation that included myself as the only rep from the North American converting B2B field. Our visit was part of PRINT4PACK, held in Palermo, Italy, and organized by ACIMGA, the Italian trade association of graphic, converting and paper machinery manufacturers.
The advanced EB technology from PCT Broadbeam is said to provide:
- Gravure-like print quality with higher resolution and tone values than traditional flexo; 50% less
dot gain with smooth vignettes; and higher physical properties (gloss & scratch resistance).
- Lowest total print cost with 25% less energy consumption; 60% less color-ink laydown; and
- Greener platform with no solvent emissions; 60% reduction in ink consumption; and lower regulatory and insurance costs.
- Safety for food packaging via FDA compliance; low odor taint and extractable levels; and greater safety for operators to handle.
- High-speed curing at up to 400 mpm; a relatively cold process (~5-10 deg C); wet-on-wet printing with
a single curing unit at the end of the press after the EB laminating-adhesive coater and nip rollers.
My Thoughts: After having written about the packaged-goods industry for about 10 years, it was a little bit of a shock to learn that package manufacturing wasn't an equally continuous-flowing process with machines tied together with conveyors. In converting, you put a roll of material on the press, printed it, took it off, and then sometime later laminated it. Then took it off that machine, let it sit a while, then put it into a slitter or bagmaker.
Well, the miracle of energy curing (UV, UV-LED or electron beam) is finally making its mark by uniting multiple manufacturing processes on the same machine. That and the latest "instantly curing" solventless laminating methods, are slashing time-to-market and letting printing, laminating and slitting be done at speeds approaching 1,000 fpm. How much longer will it be before (with proper inspection and defect removal) a system like the Uteco Onyx XS EcoOne is tied directly into a bag or pouchmaker, then a case packer and palletizer?