AB Graphics has become an OEM partner to Actega Metal Print and will deploy that company’s EcoLeaf foiling system as part of its finishing lines.
It will be part of the Digicon 3 lines, both as supplied as new or as a retrofit to existing machines. Matt Burton, sales director of AB Graphic International, says: “We regard EcoLeaf as a new category of metallisation, that will enable our customers to differentiate themselves with new and exciting print embellishments.”
The technology made its debut at Drupa in 2016 as part of the Landa stand. Landa subsequently sold this to Altana where it became part of the Actega division, which has turned the concept into a commercial proposition. The company announced a first beta site for EcoLeaf in Germany and had planned the commercial launch for Drupa 2020.
The technology applies a glue to form the latent image and the bed for the nano sized flakes of metal. As the substrate passes through a the tiny flakes of metal, they adhere in contact with the glue to create a fine image with none of the waste associated with conventional hot or cold foils.
Burton adds: “We think that the drive to become more sustainable will begin to drive business decisions more and more and that as quality of sustainable, more eco friendly solutions, such as eco leaf improves they will become more and more viable. That sustainability is the key driver for us.”
AB Graphics has prepared its first beta customers and anticipates wider availability next year once this stage has been completed. The partnership involved lengthy discussions about the benefits of the technology and how it would suit label converters.
“We’re always actively looking for new and exciting technology that can provide excellent quality for our customers. We’ve spent time getting to know the Actega team who we recognise for their professionalism and skills but also the technology which has provided some exciting results so far,” says Burton. “It is as a cost competitive solution for high end decorations, one that will deliver economic value to our customers.”
The EcoLeaf flakes use a silver pigment which can be overprinted to form a much wider range of colours, gold included. It will not replace every foil application, says Burton, as developments in other areas of hot and cold foil continue. Conventional foil may remain the better option for some customers.
AB Graphic International sees the potential in the EcoLeaf technology for those converters wanting to meet the increasing demands for sustainable approaches from major brands. Other foiling technologies will continue, says AB Graphic.