While digital printing is already firmly established in the label and commercial printing sector, flexible packaging continues to be a challenge – an economical and stable digital printing process has yet to be developed for printing on the wide variety of films and laminates that are used. Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H), the specialist for flexible packaging, which produces amongst other equipment, blown film lines and gravure and CI flexo presses, has reached a first milestone in its development project with a machine concept for a new digital printing machine.
Furthermore, the digital printing machine from W&H is based on piezo inkjet technology using the Xaar 5601 printhead. W&H is the first OEM to publicly announce its use of the new Xaar 5601 printhead, which offers a very high resolution of 5600 nozzles and is capable of jetting up to 8 liters of fluid per hour.
“We see a need in the flexible packaging market to use digital printing in addition to the established processes. The need for faster time-to-market and very short order lengthswas the driving force behind it,” explains Dr. Jürgen Vutz, chief executive officer of W&H. “However, the application of flexible packaging has very special requirements; for example regarding the adhesion of the ink to the film. As specialists in this market, we bring expert knowledge to offer answers to these challenges. First, by continuously advancing the established processes such as flexo and gravure printing. Second, by opening up the possibilities of digital printing for flexible packaging.”
In addition, W&H has been conducting research in the field of digital printing for several years. Since 2016, the digital printing team has worked on the development project involving significant investments. “We first collected practical requirements, evaluated technologies and tested new approaches. This has resulted in a machine concept that stands out from all existing approaches and provides our customers with added value. We are now implementing this with suitable partners. The new digital machine concept from W&H is characterized by higher quality and higher speeds,” shares Sven Michael, head of the digital team at W&H. “High availability and usability in daily use are our top priorities. Our goal is to go to market with a functioning and mature digital printing machine; a solution that delivers on the promises of digital printing for flexible packaging as well,” summarizes Vutz.