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Swiss flexible packaging specialist improves quality with AVT’s Apollo 20K

May 9, 2017

Wipf AG has improved quality control, broadened its digital offerings and increased its customer base by 20%.

Swiss flexible packaging specialist Wipf AG reports it has significantly improved quality control, broadened its digital offerings and increased its customer base by around 20% – all after installing AVT’s Apollo 20K, a process control and quality management system.

Designed to suit the HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press, Apollo 20K integrates into the press rewind section, inspecting any material – surface or reverse printed. The system inspects 100% of the material 100% of time, alerting the operator at an early stage on any deviation to ensure perfect print quality and minimum waste. Apollo 20K automatically detects print and substrate defects, including color variations, streaks, misprints, low contrast defects, mis-registration, spots, splashes and more.

Wipf AG not only prints foils and flexible composite materials, it also processes them in-house. For flexible packaging, the structure consists of several layers of material laminated together, with each layer providing specific performance characteristics, such as oxygen, moisture, or light resistance, heat sealability, chemical resistance, print receptivity. It must also comply with Switzerland’s strict regulations regarding food compliant packaging.

At Wipf AG, for example, PET-foils are bonded with aluminum foils, then concealed with a sealing film. Similar composite materials are traditionally printed in high print runs by large rotogravure systems. The printed material rolls or bags are then delivered to the respective packers, which produce the finished packaging together with the contents from the raw material.

Customers in the food sector rely on Wipf AG’s high-quality production, particularly in Switzerland, where strict processes are in place to ensure compliance with food legislation. These processes apply to digital printing, as well as conventional printing.

Digital complements conventional
"We invest a lot of time in our digital printing department to measure and control the content of composite materials and inks for each order," explains Daniel Nikolic, head of digital printing at Wipf AG.

A trained offset printer, Nikolic has been responsible for building the digital printing department at Wipf AG, which launched in 2012. Today, three employees run the department, and the company invests in new technologies every year to service growing demand and meet customers’ evolving quality requirements.

“A passion for quality, reliability and the pursuit of excellence represent our core company values and are reflected in our products and services as well as the attitude towards our daily work. We were looking for a solution that would meet our standards so we decided to install an inspection control solution on our HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press and opted for AVT," says Nikolic. "AVT’s Apollo 20K is very compact and integrating it with the HP press was very straight-forward. We were able to select our desired configuration and complete the set-up in less than no time."

Wipf AG’s digital team received comprehensive support and training with the installation: "AVT is an HP Indigo partner, and together they offered us a very fast, easy-to-use solution,” adds Nikolic. “We tested the system and within a few weeks everything was in operation.”

Short-run flexible packaging
Wipf AG’s HP Indigo 20000 produces an average of 2,000 sheets of flexible packaging sheets per hour. The printed material is then rolled up, like conventional material rolls, and sent to the fillers. With AVT’s process control and quality management solution, orders can now be processed profitably in a way that wasn’t achievable before, and the company’s customer base has increased by around 20%.  Nikolic notes that this expansion this mostly come in the form of runs with special designs and seasonal promotional packaging.

Regarding the inspection system, Nikolic is completely satisfied: "We can immediately detect any defects – such as streaks, spots, ink splatters or fuzzy fonts – and react quickly, so we avoid customer complaints. We have also been able to reduce waste considerably."

For certain orders, it’s particularly advantageous that the AVT Apollo 20K can be adjusted to a specific color, and, in particular, control it. For example, deviations in corporate brand colors are detected and fixed quickly. Wipf AG’s Apollo 20K is a semi-automatic solution. However, this could be expanded to an even more user-friendly, fully automated version as the digital printing department grows.

"Full automation is our goal for the coming years," says Nikolic, who is looking forward to enhancing the already well-equipped department.

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