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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES (polypropylene). This makes the packaging 100-percent recyclable as is, as opposed to containers with pressure-sensitive, glue- applied or even most shrink labels. FLEXO OPPORTUNITIES The IML market, as well as many la- bel markets, is being affected by shorter run sizes, demand for greater graphics and shelf presence and regionalization; as well as globalization. This presents a unique opportunity for today’s mid-web flexographic presses that feature gear- less-shaftless-sleeve technology. As run sizes decrease, this new flexo technology offers very rapid changeovers, the ability to run very thin heat-sensitive extensible films (as low as 0.5 mil) and to manage heat using proven chill drum designs. It also affords converters an opportunity to incorporate combination printing capa- bilities (UV flexo, solvent flexo, gravure, offset, silkscreen, cold/hot foil) to deliver dramatic printing results and outstand- ing quality. The injection in-mold label market is starting to grow in North America, while the process is mature in Europe. The injec- tion moulding process is growing rapidly in North America due to developments like Wal-Mart’s packaging scorecard, where factors such as cube utilization, transportation, product-to-package ratio and innovation are rated. Further, the push for sustainability in packaging is helping injection IML grow. For example, the injection mold process can tailor a container size to maximize packing and reduce the weight of the package through the use of a thinner plastic container. Another factor influenc- ing injection molding’s growth in North America is the requirement from CPC’s to have the same packaging on a global Source: AWA Global In-mold Label Market & Technology Review, 2008 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g AUGUS T 20 0 8 F LEXO 45 basis, which means, if the product comes in a highly decorated injection molded tub in Europe, then North American suppliers will need to be able to supply the same package. As we have seen, IML represents a good opportunity in the label market— but be careful! The production of a finished label, i.e. of a label ready to be placed into the feed mechanism of an injection press, requires a special ap- proach and a whole set of technological decisions to be made that are not always easy or obvious. For example, it is es- sential that the correct varnishes are used to reduce negative static both in the die-cutting phase and in the in-molding phase. Also, to meet today’s ever chang- ing run sizes requires multiple fi nishing solutions on the end of the gearless- shaftless-sleeve flexo press. FINISHING PROCESSES As far as today’s latest gearless-shaft- less-sleeve flexo presses are concerned, there are various finishing systems to obtain IML labels. The first solution is printing labels roll-to-roll. This solu- tion has the advantage of allowing high speeds, because of the capabilities of gearless-shaftless-sleeve flexo presses. Rewind machines fitted with die cutting units can produce the finished labels. The limitation lies only in the costs incurred by reprocessing printed rolls on the rewinder. A second alternative is using a gearless-shaftless-sleeve flexo press to produce labels from roll to sheet. In this case, the printed sheets can be flat-bed die cut offline. In both cases you have the advantage of reducing processing times and waste levels, thanks to the fact that job changes on the gearless-shaftless- sleeve flexo press are faster than on a sheet-fed offset press. World Market Shares by Labeling Technology
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008