by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
FLEXO Magazine : March 2008
PLANTS & PROCESSES www.flexography.org MARCH 2008 FLEXO 41 Multilayered extruded films are being used more often to satisfy the many dif- ferent demands of packaging today. As many as nine layers can be extruded into a single thin film. These multilayer films allow multiple barrier properties while permitting specific sealing properties, sur- face properties, strength and filler layers to achieve a more functional package at a competitive cost. Many combinations can be used as the film is engineered for the specific requirement of the application. All of this results in better product life, shelf appeal and durability of the package. LEAN AND GREEN More of an emphasis is given to recycla- bility and sustainability today than 10 years ago. Whether it is from the consumer or the converter, the desire for environmental- ly friendly packaging will continue to drive development of thinner products requiring the use of less energy in their lifecycle. New resin blends are constantly being developed that replace or improve current films to meet the recyclability demands. Consumer product companies (CPCs) have been pushing the printing industry for more environmentally friendly packag- ing since the 1980s. This drive has only be- come stronger as we learn more about the human impact on the global environment. As CPCs are increasingly looking at sus- tainability as one of the factors in choosing and maintaining a supplier relationship, as well as the printers own environmental initiatives, flexographic printers/converters have been looking for more creative ways to engineer packaging that provides the functionality needed for the product, while improving product sustainability. Printers globally have been increasingly challenged to use thinner and thinner substrates as source reduction continues to be a goal for environmentally responsible packaging. This has challenged the entire supply chain to find the solutions to the problems that result from this initiative. Film manufacturers are developing films that provide the same functionality but are thinner or reduce the needed layers of a product. A sealant coating for example may be applied to the film that previously needed an additional layer laminated to it to achieve the same product functional- ity. The result is a package that meets the customer's needs with a reduction in film layers, steps in the process and the energy required to manufacture the product. Source reduction is not the only initia- tive for sustainability. Film manufacturers are continuing to develop new products that enhance or replace exiting products in the area of recyclability. Shrink labels that are recyclable for example are being used more and more by printers as the environ- mental initiative continues. As with any new products there are challenges with the films that are being developed today. Most of the issues are re- solved in the development stage long be- fore the printer is offered the product for use in his process. Extensive testing in the lab is followed by limited field testing on actual printing equipment. Relationships with some of the press manufacturers as well as with some key customers allow the film manufactures the platform for testing in an environment that will ultimately be used by the printer in production. Some of the challenges are overcome by the film manufactures and are never seen by the printer or the CPCs while others require a modification to the printing process. PRESS IMPROVEMENT Printing films with narrow- and mid- web flexographic presses is not new. However, the equipment utilized has become increasingly more sophisticated to reach a wider range of the markets where film is used. The need for small quantities continues to increase as Lean Manufacturing continues to take hold in the printing industry, along with more regional packaging on what were tradition- ally larger runs and smaller private label products being produced. Printers in the flexible packaging and film label markets are forced to rethink a certain segment of their market and be more productive and profitable on their short run work. The door has also opened for flexo printers that are familiar with smaller quantities but may not have experience in film. In either case, narrow and mid web film printing has become one approach for short run work where in-line laminating provides short lead times while reducing costs. Narrow- and mid-web press manu- facturers are engineering and building presses to handle the wide variety of film substrates used today. In-line lamina- tions of water-based dry bond, UV, solvent based and electron beam are being uti- lized as the sophistication of the package continues to evolve. Temperature management is crucial in all film applications. However, some of the processes require the films to be printed at a specific temperature to control product deformation and print registra- tion while the in-line lamination process requirements may be totally different. This has to occur on the same machine at the same time with accuracy and repeatabil- ity. Multiple heat zones controlled with a closed loop monitoring system are neces- sary to maintain the consistency required for this process. Narrow- and mid-web presses increas- ingly utilize multiple printing processes and ink systems in-line to enhance the graphics as well as offer more flexibil- ity with application capabilities. Solvent based, water-based and UV flexo are com- bined with gravure to control costs while offering the flexibility of using the best system for inks, coatings and adhesives. This widens the capabilities of the printer to use various substrates for different ap- plications utilizing the ink system or print- ing process that is best suited.