Live from interpack 2008 in Dusseldorf

Interpack’s 50th edition occupied all of Dusseldorf Messe’s 19 halls

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The main emphasis was on shelf ready packaging (SRP) highlighted at theme-oriented collective pavilions at the show’s Innovation Parc for Packaging. Participants in the pavilions included, among others, Heidelberg, MAN Roland, EskoArtwork, Metro, M-Real, Siegwerk, Smurfit-Kappa and COPACO. Products on display reflect the industry’s major trends such as the increased use of robots, software integration, RFID, bioplastics, waste reduction, recycling and energy saving technologies.
The Indian participants were particularly strong in material supplies, from polyethylene and aluminium for flexible packaging to various bottling and sealing applications for the food and beverage industries. Visitor numbers at the fair were up across the board, and the general atmosphere was one of sizzling business appointments at the world’s largest packaging and processing exhibition.

Inkjet Systems – Heidelberg Linoprint
After years of development, Heidelberg launched its inkjet system Linoprint at Interpack2008. Linoprint is a new modular piezo drop-on-demand technology for personalized marking of folding boxes, labels and blister packs. Developed as part of a Heidelberg innovation project, the system works in resolutions of up to 720 dpi and can be integrated into all kinds of packaging systems and assembly lines. Linoprint is aimed initially at the pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and beverages industries as well as packaging firms and suppliers of packaging lines.

As the system addresses market segments different from Heidelberg’s offset business, Linoprint was presented at a separate stand, while another Heidelberg stand focused on the company’s folding carton gluing, die cutting and coating systems. Linoprint’s prototype presentation at interpack was conceived as a first testing of the market, while field tests have been scheduled for the last quarter of 2008.

“We have seen from preliminary discussions that there is enormous interest in our system”, explains Karl-Heinz Walther, who is responsible for the sales and marketing of Linoprint. “The key advantage of Linoprint is the fact that we have been working closely together with packaging machine manufacturers right from the start of planning. We pay great attention to where we can best fit our printing modules into the production process. We also question those who operate and control the systems about the unique requirements of their production lines. The knowledge and experience of those actually on the production line are extremely important for us.” Cooperation has already been agreed with one major packaging company, and Linoprint is in negotiation with others.

A team of printing experts and developers has been working on the technology for three years. It was developed on the basis of the control technology that Heidelberg used to build its CtP system. The Linoprint system processes variable data, enabling image areas to be modified without any interruption to the production process. Different language versions or production-related data such as sell-by dates, serial and batch numbers, barcodes or data matrix codes can be imprinted at high resolutions, inline and just-in-time and at economical print runs as small as a batch size of 1.

The need for stretch and embossing units is to be reduced and format changes to be significantly simplified and shortened. By activating multiple Linoprint modules in sequence or in parallel, the printing width, speed and resolution can be adapted to meet the requirements of the individual packaging line. The system can be integrated anywhere in the production line, both before and after the packaging has been filled. Initially, it will be available for three applications: Linoprint Box for cartoners, Linoprint Label for labeling machines and Linoprint Blister for blister packaging lines.

Basically, the Linoprint system comprises a printing unit, UV curing system and the control- and workflow software, adaptable to individual requirements. The printing unit consists of the print head, cleaning unit and dryer. Linospot, the version for single-colour printing, is nearing readiness for the blister-film printing segment. It will soon be possible to imprint labels and folding boxes. A proprietary screen technology enables the generation of gray tones, while special colours are also to be feasible.

Linoprint is also working on a 4-colour version, Linocolor, with a resolution of at least 600 dpi and printing widths between 50 and 150 mm. At up to 2.5 meters per second the printing speed will be significantly higher than that of the Linospot. Linospot and Linocolor can process a variety of ink types suitable for a broad range of print substrates. Consumables are produced in collaboration with several manufacturers and will be marketed under the Saphira brand. The Linoflow control unit is used to prepare printing data, generate production-specific variable data and process the print content. Linoflow is either integrated into the existing production control system or installed on a separate workstation. It will be available in Spot, Color and Ultimate versions to meet the complexity of the processes to be coordinated.

Atlantic Zeiser
Also at Interpack, Atlantic Zeiser introduced the Omega 36 HD inkjet printer and a LED UV curing system called Smartcure. The new Omega 36 HD printer is an extension to the existing Omega range. With a resolution of 720 dpi (i.e., double the resolution of the Omega 36/36i), the new Omega 36 HD in combination with Atlantic Zeiser’s proprietary inks is to ensure crisp printing of extremely small characters and barcodes requiring excellent readability and clarity. The Omega printheads achieve the quality of flexographic printing with the advantage of printing variable data. The system prints on a wide variety of substrates, from paper and carton to aluminum, polymer foils and plastics. Because the system is designed for use in either web or sheet-fed processes, there are hardly any limits to its field of application. It enables printers to take on short-run jobs previously reserved for flexo and silkscreen printing.

With the Smartcure Series, Atlantic Zeiser presented its second generation LED UV curing systems. The system has a compact size allowing for easy integration and is particularly eco-friendly because of its low energy consumption compared to lamp-based systems, longer life-time, no ozone generation, lower cooling requirements and an instant on/off functionality that eliminates energy consumption during machine stops. Fast-curing inks are to ensure high contrast with a high adhesion to non-absorbent substrates for smart coding and marking of high quality variable data printing. As a first step to offering its inkjet technologies to OEM partners, inline marking of blister packages was shown on two Omega 36i and two Smartcure units at the Mediseal stand.

At Interpack, Atlantic Zeiser’s CEO Oliver Mehler explained the company’s strategy as follows: “As a full service system integrator, we are offering a customised combination of printers, inks, dryers, controllers, personalisation software, transport systems, and camera-based monitoring systems that can be tailored to the customer’s individual requirements. We are able to guarantee optimum quality and allow our clientele to gain a competitive market advantage by expanding its service offering and addressing new business opportunities and applications. Our goal is to provide our customers with an end-to-end solution for their applications from a single source.”

Marking, coding and personalisation have been the core business of the Atlantic Zeiser Group for more than 50 years. The group is specialised in industrial, high-security personalisation and encoding technologies. Its customers include security printers, card manufacturers, label and packaging printers and manufacturers of branded goods. Based in Germany and with only 400 employees worldwide, the company generated a sales turnover of Euro 70 million (approximately INR 460 crore) in 2006 in three main business areas: Card Systems, Document and Product Identity and Impact Numbering. More than 90 per cent of the world’s banknotes are numbered using Atlantic Zeiser technology.

Domino shows new thermal V-300+ C6000AS plus
Domino Printing Sciences showed its new V-300+ 5-inch at interpack on a thermal transfer printer for flexible packaging applications.  The versatile V300+, available in both 2-inch and 5-inch printheads, is meant for high volume manufacturing environments.  Achieving a print resolution of 300dpi, it is capable of applying sharp, high quality variable data including text, bar codes, Data Matrix codes as well as logos onto a wide range of web materials.  It is designed for use in both continuous and intermittent modes, and can be mounted on a variety of flexible packaging machines including vertical or horizontal form, fill and seal machines and label applicators, making it suitable for many key food, pharmaceutical, health and beauty applications.

Delivering a new concept in thermal transfer printing, the V300+ does not require a dedicated controller but can be operated from any PC based user interface running a standard Internet browser.  As a result, one or more printers can be controlled by either an existing OEM packaging machine interface, or a PC or laptop or the optional Domino touch screen.

As with the other V-Series printers, the V300+ contains simple to use label creation software. The unit includes simple a maintenance free dancer for consistent tension between new and used ribbon spools, which prevents ribbon breakage and ensures responsiveness in high-speed applications.

The V300+ includes a patented variable ribbon economy feature that offers ribbon savings of up to 60 per cent by using a shorter length of ribbon compared to the length of the actual print achieved on the product.  Combined with Domino’s ribbon auto-retraction system, which ensures less than 1 mm gap between prints on the ribbon roll, this provides huge consumable cost-savings by minimising ribbon waste.

Also shown was Domino’s new C6000AS plus capable of printing on adjacent sides of a box for more efficient use of both equipment and production floor space by synchronising two coding operations via a single print head.

HP Pharma Black inkjet and HP Indigo with laminator
Since we have been writing about it, we went to see the HP SPS Pharma Black CB935A inkjet print cartridge that was shown at HP’s stand on a capsule and tablet printing machine built by the American company inc.jet.inc. The machine itself did not seem very complicated especially in comparison to its price and it seems to work. It was quickly programmed to write our magazine’s initials on round orange pills.

HP Pharma Black ink is designed for branding, dosage, security or other purposes by enabling individual capsules and tablets to be marked. The precision of 600dpi barcode symbologies can help pharmaceutical companies track products securely, fight counterfeiting and increase dosage accuracy. In healthcare environments, the use of 1-D and 2-D barcodes on tables and capsules can provide an additional level of product security and customer safety when used in an overall programme of dosage monitoring and verification.

The HP Pharma Black CB935A is a self contained inkjet head and cartridge in a 20ml size with printing speeds of up to 500 feet per minute at 150 dots per inch (dpi), or 600dpi imaging for precise, uniform printing of variable data, barcodes and logos on a variety of dosage-form shapes. It is a ready-to-use formulation with no solvents to mix or handle.
Also on the HP stand were several other SPS OEM companies including Bakshi Enterprises and of course the HP Indigo ws4500 industrial press that can handle substrates as thin as 12 microns including PP, OPP, PE, PET, PVC and PS/OPS (Polyolefin) for applications such as labels and shrink sleeves. It was shown at interpack running with HP OEM AB Graphic International’s DigiLam laminator, designed for laminating foils for the food industry with speeds of up to 100 metres a minute.

First time visitor to Interpack08
Arvind Sekhar of Sai Packaging, Bangalore, a first time visitor has this to say about Interpack 2008 — “It was a remarkable show — The very best European carton makers marked their attendance and I wanted to pass on a few thoughts based on my observations from the visit.” Sekhar’s impressions:

Design related
Several innovations in design with an eye for aesthetics and usability
–One could see a chocolate box that when opened turned into a table
–Pharmaceutical packaging that makes it easier for the elderly to open and use
–A perfume packaging that gave the impression that it was transparent, but in reality wasn’t
– Unique usage of inline cold foiling in an offset press or use of reactive varnishes that give a plastic feel to the carton was demonstrated.
–One of the most unique innovations was the embossing of leather on cartons in a way that it looks seamless.\

In fact service and quality by packaging providers is taken for granted. People differentiate with each other based on the strength of design ideas.

Runnability at customer sites
This crucial consideration is taken for granted in Europe. The creasing, cutting or the Braille embossing has to be perfect. Any deviation in Braille embossing height can give a whole new meaning and any inconsistency in cutting/creasing will lead to serious downtime for the customer. Given their volumes, they definitely cannot afford a breakdown.

 Eye Square
An innovative market research company demonstrated how a consumer’s attention jumps from package to package in a supermarket. Through custom technology that tracks your eye movements, they develop insights on packaging design and merchandising right at the point of purchase.

Some very specific research is being conducted on how to serve the elderly population – a good market and a growing one for Europe.

Sustainability
The programs on sustainability were insightful as Europe and USA are grappling with reducing carbon footprints. Several board manufacturers showcased their approach to contributing to the environment — better forestry management, offering increased strength on reduced GSM and other improvements.

Bioplastics
A new material that will automatically degrade in the environment within 30 days.