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Skanem on schedule with Asian labeling house
By Barry Hunt
Skanem’s plant in Thailand is on schedule for a start-up planned for early 2007. The factory occupies 45,208 square feet of space and is located 35 miles south of Bangkok. The Olso, Norway based labeling group says the plant will serve as its Asian base, and help meet an increasing demand for quality labels and packaging from the larger multinational manufacturers established in East Asia. The total Asian market for self-adhesive labels is said to be expanding at 15 to 20 percent per year and is forecast to take a 37 percent share of global label consumption by 2010.
“Proximity to our customers and to the market is important,” says Skanem’s owner and CEO, Ole Rugland. “Last year we acquired Skanem Introl and Skanem Introl-Print, based respectively in Poland and Moscow. Now we are moving into the Asian market and Thailand is an ideal base for us.” Skanem has 12 labeling facilities in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Germany, Poland, and Russia. The company employs 1,100 staff, and in 2005 saw sales reach €156 million ($201 million).
Early equipment decisions include two nine-color Nilpeter FA-4 UV flexo presses. Both have a 16" web width while one will include a gravure module. They bring the total number of Nilpeter presses in use throughout the Skanem Group to 24, augmenting machines from a number of different press manufacturers. Described by Nilpeter as its third generation series, the servo driven presses include a range of printing options and are suitable for multi-substrate printing.
Film packaging prompts switch to direct laser engraving
Direct laser engraving of flexo sleeves made from elastomer type materials could receive a boost from recent technical advances and trends towards shorter runs of shrink sleeves and film wraparounds. The single-stage process eliminates dispros and plate mounting, allowing users to typically produce finished flexo (or letterpress or dry offset) plates in around 20 minutes. This offers obvious benefits where short turnaround times are critical.
These factors prompted Laritryck, a Swedish converter of food and beverage labels, to install a Stork Prints Helios engraving system as part of its move into flexible packaging. The Helsingborg company also backed this expansion by installing an eight-color Mark Andy XP 5000 UV flexo press fitted with Stork rotary screen units for producing labels and flexible packaging.
The company considers the Helios system ideal for coping with volumes of film based work that increasingly have lead times measured in just a few days. The unit helps it avoid the potential bottlenecks formerly experienced when using conventional plates supplied by trade houses. An absence of post processing stages has seen to be especially useful when plate remakes are required. The digitized system is also said to meet the company’s high standards of reproduction quality, while offering greener credentials than conventional platemaking: it eliminates chemicals, film and UV light exposure — and offers dot-sharp repeat platemaking after uploading the relevant file.
• The Stork Prints Group has opened a new Technology Center at its headquarters in Boxmeer, the Netherlands. It houses five rotary screen printing lines. Customers can test RotaMesh and SpecialScreen cylinders with their chosen inks, coatings and substrates, supported by Stork’s technical engineers. Bespoke training programs are also be held at the new facility.
BASF introduces new adhesive technologies
BASF has developed an adhesive coating technology that allows up to three different layers of adhesive to be applied simultaneously onto a carrier material using a multilayer die. When coating adhesive labels, for example, an oxygen barrier or UV absorbent layer can be integrated between two layers of adhesive without requiring three individual production stages. Manufacturers of pressure sensitive labels — including those with in-house coaters — can lower their production costs and save manufacturing time, the company claims.
The multilayer coating process is also said to make it possible to manufacture clear-to-clear laminates with BASF’s acResin adhesives at over 1,312 feet per minute. They are UV cross linkable acrylate hot melt pressure sensitive adhesives. They are water and solvent-free and claims to offer advantages over conventional adhesives, both in processing and in environmental terms.
Irradiation with UV light controls the cross linking of the macromolecules in the adhesive film, which is responsible for the adhesive properties. If the polymers are highly cross linked, the adhesive film is relatively firm and holds together when subjected to tensile loading. The contact between an object and the adhesive gives way first, allowing the easy removal of a price label without leaving a residue for example. Conversely, if the polymer chains are weakly cross linked, they will break down before the adhesive detaches from the surface and a residue will remain on the surface. With acResin, the adhesive strength of the adhesive layer can be varied according to the UV dosage deployed.
EyeC expands operations into Benelux
Object-based image processing has been around for several years in various industrial quality control applications. In our industry, EyeC GmbH, of Germany, is busy promoting its Proofiler line as a quality control tool for folding cartons, labels and information leaflets, especially for the pharmaceutical sector. In this case, the system automatically compares a stored PDF or archived master file to the scanned sample. The operator makes a decision on the severity of the errors found and generates a report showing enlarged images of the defects.
Increasing interest has prompted the Hamburg based company to expand its sales and support operations into Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. It already has offices or partnerships in the USA and Japan and is represented in several other countries. Ansgar Kaupp, managing director, says there is rising interest among packaging and label printers serving other markets with high quality demands. The cosmetics and toiletries sector is an obvious example, but they included large volume label printers where the potential for errors and product mixing can be high. Apparently the Proofiler can find real errors, rather than small shifts in registration or minor squeezing of characters that can occur in flexo printing.
Erik Hoving, who runs EyeC’s sales operations in the Benelux region, points to another application: “The EC Directive on Braille marking on pharmaceutical packages, introduced last October, has put new demands on carton printers. Embossing the Braille is one issue, but checking it is almost impossible without a system with the capabilities of the EyeC Proofiler.”
New press makes labels for hazardous substances
Occasionally this column gets to hear about a PR application story that penetrates its stringent “ho-hum, so what” barrier. The installation of a five-color Mark Andy 2200 UV flexo press at Hibiscus plc in Leeds, UK, is interesting because it reveals another aspect of just how specialized the European self-adhesive label industry has become. Many more converters now produce just a few ranges of label products. It is mainly influenced by trends in global end user markets, technical advances and the development of newer labeling applications are big influencers. In a few cases, however, the specialization comes from a background of inside knowledge to meet a known application. Hibiscus is a good example. It earns its money from producing labels and signs intended for use with hazardous substances. Its range of customers is said to read like a Who’s Who of the chemical world.
In this business, compliance with national and international safety legislation is essential, which implies an in-depth understanding of the chemical industry. The labels must also meet stringent legislative requirements, including light fastness, print key effectiveness, abrasion resistance, and adhesion in sea water. The fact that the company founders, Dorothy (Dot) and Brian Killerby, had a chemical industry background obviously helped shape the company’s aim over the past 25 years in developing and refining a classic “one stop shop” for the labeling of hazardous substances.
The company’s services include label design and printing, as well as developing computer software sold to customers worldwide. It holds more than 20,000 pieces of artwork to cover all labeling variations, while over a million standard legislative labels are held in stock at any one time. Initially, no commercially available label presses could fulfill the company’s requirements. Hibiscus therefore designed and built its own printing presses. The installation of its first proprietary press in 1999 is said to have involved a steep and painful learning curve.
More recently the need for additional capacity prompted the company to examine the press market before it eventually chose the 10" wide 2200, which is acknowledged as one of Mark Andy’s most specialized of recent sales. The press meets a production pattern where a run of 20,000 labels is a long run. Apparently, its fast makeready features, while keeping wastage of expensive substrates to a minimum, were among the reasons for the choice.
Swiss backing for licensed metallic ink system
In order to strengthen its color management services, Ciba Speciality Chemicals of Basel, Switzerland, has acquired a majority share in MetalFX Technology of Guisely, near Leeds, UK. Launched four years ago, the MetalFX system is based on metallic shade reference books and special kits. It is licensed to printers, ink makers, paper makers, and color management specialists covering many commercial and packaging applications. The software based swatch books allow users to create thousands of metallic effects in a single pass on a five-color press simply by using CMYK process inks plus a MetalFX base color. Designers can use the system to incorporate customized metallic shades in their designs and help brand owners to differentiate products.
“The MetalFX concept greatly increases the creative scope of print and has proven to be a highly profitable asset to its users,” said Sonia Megert Marshall, global head of Ciba Color Services. “All involved in the color process — from designer to ink manufacturer to printer — will now be able to benefit from opportunities through synergies between the MetalFX concept and our color management solutions, technical expertise and global reach.”
MetalFX Technology will continue to operate independently and Andrew Ainge, managing director, remains as head of the company.