Multiflex Polybags installs Soma Optima CI flexo press

Chennai’s Multiflex compact press for short runs & PE structures

Short run food packaging produced on the new Multiflex Optima CI flexo press
Short run food packaging produced on the new Multiflex Optima CI flexo press

Chennai-based Multiflex Polybags, a leading flexible packaging producer of labels, pouches, and polybags (before it set up two automated paper bag lines), has installed a new 8-color Soma 880 CI flexo press in its main Chennai plant. The press is the one that was sitting in Soma’s demonstration center, and partly because of that, it is a highly automated press with all the bells and whistles for makeready, registration, and cleaning purposes without wastage of materials and time.

Multiflex’s Pratik Mehta told us, “The press was purchased for short runs and especially for use on easily recyclable PE-PE structures, and we were in a hurry because the pandemic made it difficult to travel. Our Soma 880 is equipped to print on flexible film from 12 microns to 150 microns in thickness and on paper substrates up to 240 gsm.” Mehta added, “In recent years, the runs have become very short for flexible packaging and this is why we bought this press. Also, because it is very compact, it could fit exactly in the space that was occupied by our first CI flexo press that we bought in 2002.”

Soma Optima 8-color CI flexo press at Multiflex Polybags in Chennai
Soma Optima 8-color CI flexo press at Multiflex Polybags in Chennai

He added that the press could print with both solvent and water-based inks, and Multiflex plans to use it to produce easily recyclable packaging on both films and paper. “The hot air curing systems are already in place for switching from one kind of process to the other, and the post-print and the interdeck hot air drying systems merely need to be cleaned and flushed out before the changeover.”

Multiflex is an award-winning flexo printer and converter with numerous Asian Flexo awards to its credit. Familiar with CI flexo printing and well known for producing plastic shopping bags for Chennai’s leading garment and sari shops, the company has shifted much of that business to its recently acquired paper shopping bag lines.

New product mix – recyclable, short-run, food & FMCG

When we visited Multiflex several years ago, we saw a leader in converting specialized flexible materials, and it had substantial clientele amongst agricultural seed and chemicals manufacturers. More recently, with the installation of a Windsor 5-layer blown film line about a year and a half ago, it has become a leading supplier of flexible pouch materials for edible oil, milk, and specialized medical laminates – all using polyolefin dedicated (POD) laminates.

The Optima 880, which is 880 mm wide, is a very compact CI flexo press demonstrated at exhibitions with automation features for rapid changeover and low wastage with high performance. The press runs at a speed of 300 meters a minute and can print materials with a width of 820 mm.

Highly automated CI flexo for short runs

The compact Optima CI flexo installed at Multiflex has several extraordinary features and very high automation built into it. These include a Central Drum Thermal stabilization system and a PPP plate protection system that automatically lifts the rollers away and out of any possible harm or damage in the case of a sudden stoppage.

In addition, it has Falcon II, an automated solution for register and impression setting in which the impression pressure is set utilizing kiss print detection between printing plate and substrate. Automatic registration of all print units is set using the drag and drop system on the web-viewer camera.

With the dynamic impression system and smart registration, the total waste produced in makeready is below 100 meters (328.1 ft) and takes a few minutes to set up. Notably, the Falcon II does not use any printed marks – it uses a standard microdot for plate mounting, so no waste strips on the side are needed.

The installation of the Optima at Multiflex at the end of March 2021, just before the second wave of the pandemic struck the city and country, required coping with elaborate travel permissions and safety requirements for the DKSH and Soma installation engineers. The Optima CI flexo is sold and serviced in India and most Asian markets by DKSH, the large trading conglomerate that spans several industries and geographies.

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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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


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