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Nanography® for Mainstream
Flexible Packaging Print Production
The Landa W10
For many decades, product packaging mainly used rigid containers, such as cans, boxes, and bottles. In recent years, those formats have been replaced for many products with flexible packaging using different shapes and container media.
Several key factors have prompted the migration from rigid to flexible packaging: the global focus on reducing carbon footprints; saving production and shipping costs with reduced weights; a consumer demand for more product convenience, such as spouts and zippers for reusability; and, a greater focus on protecting and/or preserving contents from gas, moisture, light, flavor and odor.
One of the Largest Print Segments
At a value of US$65 billion, flexible packaging printing is the fourth-largest print segment in the US$901 billion print industry. Within the US$389 billion packaging market, flexible packaging printing is the second largest segment after folding carton.1
1 Dr. Sean Smyth, "The Future of Global Printing to 2018," Smithers Pira, 2013, pp. 1 and 58.
Worldwide consumption of flexible packaging showed during the recession in 2008-2009, but demand has been growing since 2010. With a CAGR of 4.1%, the market is expected to reach $71 billion in 2016. The US is the largest national market for consumer flexible packaging, followed by China. The market has reached maturity in North America and Western Europe while rapid growth in Asia is expected through 2016, with a forecasted CAGR of 7.9%.2
2 David Platt, "The Future of Global Flexible Packaging," Pira International Ltd., 2011, p. 6.
Key Markets and Applications
Flexible packaging print offers several core applications and operates in multiple markets:
Pouches and bags
Pouches and bags are containers with printed layered plastics, and are generally used for fast moving consumer goods. Stand up flexible packaging pouches, for example, have replaced a large portion of folding cartons, plastics, glass and can containers.
Sachets are small disposable bags containing single-use quantities of items such as ketchup or shampoo.
Modified atmosphere packaging
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) changes the gaseous environment in a package to extend content shelf life — developed for fresh fish and meat, poultry, sausages, entrées, bakery products, pasta, pizza, fruit, vegetables and other food items.
With 78% of the business, the market giant for flexible packaging is the food and beverage industry. Healthcare and pharmaceuticals amount to 12% of the flexible package market while pet food is 2.6%.3
3Rexam PLC "Consumer Packaging Report 2011/12: Packaging Unwrapped 2011," 2011, p. 39.
print Technologies for Flexible Packaging
The two principal production techniques for flexible packaging are flexography (or flexo), which is used primarily for medium to long runs — 10K-100K linear meters — and gravure. As analog, rather than digital printing technologies, they deliver the highest quality, but with exorbitant setup costs and waste from very long runs of 30K to millions of linear meters.
Flexible packaging uses a combination of materials, including paper, film, and foil that protect the package contents. The production process is typically done on seven specific materials: PE, PP, PET, PVC, and PLA film.4
4 Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), "Flexible Packaging Outlook Report," p. 3.
Since gravure has established the print quality standard for flexible packaging, the market today expects quality from digital or analog solutions that at least match the quality of flexo. Opaque white is also a must-have for any digital or analog production technology. Other mandatories include tight Pantone® matching and spot “brand” colors, special inks with extended gamut, formats that match analog (41 in. / 1,050 mm), and media thickness ranging from 9 – 120 microns.
What’s missing from mainstream flexible packaging print production is a solution for producing 5000-meter runs that meet high standards for quality, color, speed and substrate support.
Nanography®: the Best-of-Both-Worlds
Nanographic Printing® technology yields the lowest cost-per-sheet of any current digital print technology. It offers the finest features of analog technology — high quality and speed. Yet it’s a digital solution delivering short-run, variable print flexibility. It also eliminates the lengthy, expensive setup requirements for gravure or flexo.
The Landa Nanographic Printing® Presses generate throughput up to 200 m/min. Using water-based Landa NanoInk® colorants with efficient, light-absorbing nanopigments, the press delivers a wide color gamut using CMYK, and matches more than 75% of the Pantone color chart.
The Landa Nanographic Printing® Press is the only digital solution supporting any off-the-shelf flexible packaging stock without priming or pretreatment. It uniquely operates side-by-side with analog equipment — no special environments needed — which maximizes overall output and operator productivity.
Print Technologies At-a-Glance