Adam Robotham, director of sheetfed sales, Manroland GB, puts the case for value-adding inline printing technology
The cradle of the printing press, Germany continues to be a centre for innovation in printing technology. After inventing the printing press in 1440, German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg devised the hand-mould method for casting metal movable type quickly and in large quantities that was the key to making print a profitable enterprise.
Now, more than 570 years later, productivity alone no longer guarantees profit, and so the most exciting German innovations are now dedicated to adding value – giving packaging printers and the wider industry the tools they need to add value to their work, to boost current margins and to develop new services for new customers.
In combining the two pillars of profitability – productivity and added value – manroland strives to bring ever more value-adding enhancements inline and on-press. The company recently revolutionised the embossing of cartons with the introduction of the InlineImpress system. This can achieve intricate three-dimensional and haptic effects without damaging the reverse of the sheet, because the effect is not achieved by ‘stamping’. Instead, one printing unit applies a UV-embossable coating, which another shapes and structures with a forming die created from a modified varnishing plate.
Applying the effect with printing units achieves precise registration every time, which is just not possible with traditional embossing methods. And it can be done inline, at full production speed – the only limitation is that the cartonboard must be at least 230g/m².
As well as being highly productive, performing this task inline makes it inherently cost effective and efficient. Therefore, it is economic for the buyer yet profitable for the printer. As far as brand protection is concerned – an issue of growing importance and an opportunity where packaging printers can add real value – embossing, when used in combination with other printing effects, is a highly effective way to differentiate genuine products from copies.
With margins under considerable pressure in today’s carton printing market, as in the wider industry, the cost of production must share its place at the top of the agenda with adding value, if printers are to remain profitable in the mid to long term. Foiling is a high value special effect with great scope for differentiation, and bringing the process inline ensures printers can strike the right balance between keeping the cost of foiling production down but pricing competitive.
Manroland has achieved this with the InlineFoiler Prindor, which uses an offset printing unit to apply an oil-based adhesive ink to the target areas of the media with a standard printing plate. The foil is reel-fed into the next printing unit, where it is pressed onto the media by the blanket and precisely transferred only to the areas where the adhesive has been applied. This takes place at normal production speed, with all subsequent printing units used for standard offset printing or coating.
Applying the foil cold, inline and at the start of the printing process allows immediate overprinting of the full spectrum of colours on a broad range of substrates in a single pass, and it can be combined with delicate embossing and spot coatings or varnishes for maximum impact. Visitors to manroland’s Secrets of Printing website (www.secretsofprinting.com) can see for themselves the high level of detail achievable and the value-adding power of the InlineFoiler Prindor.
Packaging design that incorporates foiling and embossing gives packaging buyers the bold, eye catching effect they need to compete confidently in the unforgiving retail environment. Any print business offering this service immediately opens up a distinct gap between itself and the competition. Manroland’s inline foiling technology ensures the end result is durable and, applied inline, it is inherently cost effective and efficient to produce. A demonstrably strong return on investment is possible in the mid to long term on both InlineFoiler Prindor and InlineImpress.
Tackling the challenges of squeezed margins, lower runs and ever-more demanding schedules, while at the same time remaining competitive, is a juggling act that demands the latest technology. Manroland offers solutions with which packaging printers can diversify their offering and pursue new revenue streams and higher margins, both with existing and prospective customers.
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