Flexography has historically been the dominant process when it comes to label and package printing, but suppliers are looking to the future when designing their newest products. They are not resting on their laurels as they envision the next generation of these pivotal machines. Flexo press manufacturers have a keen eye on automation, connectivity, utilizing data and simplifying the printing process. Meanwhile, suppliers of inks, plates, materials and the like are going all-in to further shape the future of flexo.
Flexo is a truly beautiful process that continues to evolve and has made significant advancements over the past few years
The technical advancements in inks, anilox rolls, doctor blades, plates, tapes, sleeves, curing technology, embellishments (foil, tactile, embossing) and the actual flexo press have all improved the process. flexo technology has advanced greatly, mainly through improvements in automation,narrow and mid web. All nilpeter flexo presses can be equipped with a high level of automation, which means that even less skilled operators can run them properly and profitably. More automation also helps to eliminate waste in the entire process by reducing job setups, changeovers and machine downtime, thereby improving the sustainability of flexo and meeting brand owners’ requirements for greener production methods.
Nilpeter, meanwhile, has optimized its equipment to meet the latest industry trends. “Many machine manufacturers have gone the economic route and provided the industry with commodity presses – entry level – to fight back on the digital offerings with lower priced investments,” comments Jakob Landberg, sales and marketing director, Nilpeter. “We have gone the route of vertical standardization and automatization of the originally manual conventional presses, thus improving the features to compete in shorter and shorter runs. We use these elements across our product program and manufacturing sites in Europe, the USA and India. This fight goes hand-in-hand with the focus on sustainability – saving waste and setup time both for our customers and ourselves.”
Flexible packing is one of the fastest growing markets
Flexo is the process that offers the most flexibility to the converter of multiple complex and highly decorated applications. If you are a standard label converter, whose customers are comfortable with the difference in graphic appearance (screens, spot color builds), then a full digital process or flexo hybrid process could suit your needs. If you are a converter with a complex product portfolio that covers all labels, sleeves and flexible packaging, the flexo process offers the most flexibility.
The next evolution of flexo printing will come from the ink delivery system. While the industry has strived to progress in this area, the applications have not been practical in daily use. This will be a fertile area of development as we continue to strive for waste reduction, environmental sustainability, operator safety and even better print quality.
Flexible packaging features a multitude of different substrates with very different characteristics and specifications – and the run lengths are shrinking. So more complex and more setups are required for every shift. We lean on the virtues from the innovative world of labeling: Our new solution for flexible packaging materials and constructions utilizes multi-process inline printing, laminating and converting, as well as UV LED, solvent and water-based flexo printing.
Choosing the right flexo supplies streamlines the entire printing process and contributes largely to a company’s ROI. Careful consideration must be taken when choosing from a host of products, including plates to anilox rolls to cleaning solutions.