Lorytex strikes packaging gold with flexo and ECG

Case study of extended color gamut in flexible packaging

Lorytex team evaluates flexo outuput using ECG Photo Miraclon
Lorytex team evaluates flexo outuput using ECG Photo Miraclon

“We’re just trying to make flexo a little better every day,” says Roberto Dolinsky, managing director of Lorytex. There’s modesty in the comment, but there’s no doubting his pride in what the company has just achieved — a Gold Award in the inaugural Kodak Global Flexo Innovation Awards. Lorytex was also one of just four ‘Highest Honors’ winners, singled out for creative use of graphic design, production workflow efficiency, and a commitment to sustainable print.

What makes the achievement more notable is the fact that Lorytex is a relatively small operation, employing just nine people at its Montevideo base. With a population of 3.5 million, the Uruguayan market too is relatively small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in competitiveness, says Dolinsky. “As in any other prepress market, you need to have something different, something that makes you stand out from the competition.”

In Lorytex’s case, that something is expertise in extended color gamut (ECG) printing. With ECG in the portfolio, the company can respond to the trends and challenges in today’s packaging market, where Dolinsky describes the prevailing conditions as “constant technological change. This is nothing new, of course. Neither are the ever-shorter production runs and tighter delivery schedules. Our strategy is to optimize and automate production, and ECG fits the bill perfectly. With it, we can offer something really different to converters — increased productivity, economical handling of short runs, plus the option of combining jobs.”

30% faster turnaround

Roberto Dolinsky, managing director of Lorytex Photo Miraclon

The award-winning entry, produced for flexible packaging client Ecoflex SA, vividly demonstrated what’s possible with ECG – a turnaround time that was 30% faster, significant savings on ink consumption, plus brand-pleasing image quality and overall visual impact, all achieved on Ecoflex’s press.

Lorytex and Ecoflex have worked together since 2011 and, says Dolinsky, “have closely-aligned objectives.” How close becomes clear when you consider the background to the ECG project, which came about when Ecoflex too sought something to differentiate themselves from competitors — in this case, improved efficiencies, faster deliveries, and genuine innovation.

For Lorytex, the decision signaled the start of a two-year program to evaluate the potential of ECG and, if things stacked up, implement the technology. “We invested a lot into ECG,” recalls Dolinsky. “Putting the pieces together involved a lot of learning and a lot of overseas travel for training. We had to be sure we were doing things properly.”

As well as Ecoflex, Lorytex has a close relationship with other converters in Uruguay that are currently evaluating the use of ECG technology because of its proven improvements and cost savings.

Efficient, automated, reliable

“That meant having all the components for the most efficient, automated and reliable set-up possible, including high-quality color management — and, of course, the right plate technology. In fact, investing in the Kodak Flexcel NX solution was the very first decision we made. It’s reliable, fast, and gave us the trusted foundation technology around which we could add the other technologies.”

At the end of the process, Lorytex developed a series of optimization tests, backed by a detailed methodology, and rolled it out to the client over a two-month period. “We convinced them that factors such as registration and spot colors wouldn’t be issues. It helped a lot that they were totally committed to the project.”

Dolinsky, of Lorytex examines the Kodak Flexcel NX plate Photo Miraclon

This way of working is typical of the company’s approach because building close links with customers is central to the Lorytex culture. “In this sense, it helps that Uruguay is a small country,” says Dolinsky. “Over half the population are in and around Montevideo, so we don’t have to travel far to visit customers and prospects! On most projects, we get involved right at the start, at the design stage. This is important with flexo because the process is new territory for creatives used to working in offset. If we understand what the designer and the brand want the packaging to communicate, we can apply our knowledge of the technology to achieve the best results. We also like to be involved in pre-production meetings with the converters; we learn a lot from them, and they help us have everything in place before production.”

Asked how brands and converters regard flexo, he says the benefits are becoming more widely known, but that there’s still work to be done. “ECG will provide a boost. When we demonstrate how efficient the process is, and the quality results possible, there’s real interest. So much so, that I believe as much as 50% of packaging could be produced using flexo and ECG.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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