CS Labels is opening the throttle on its digital flexible packaging initiative having overcome most of the problems it had been encountering.
The company sees pouches as a way to diversify from printing labels. “We like to think of ourselves as a difference maker,” says managing director Simon Smith. “For us digital means a lot more than shorter run labels but we are working in an industry which is very heavily commoditised.”
CS Labels uses a Xeikon CX500 to print on 540mm wide material which is the laminated with other films to create the composite that can be formed into the stand up pouch. One of the breakthroughs has been to print on the reverse of the outer film layer, a 23 micron polyethylene film. This can be laminated to different materials according to the nature of the pack’s contents, while the surface of the print is fully protected.
The company is now trialling a thinner film to suit new applications and the use of biodegradable materials to meet growing environmental concerns. It is also tracking development of a unit to combine two pieces of film to produce a larger pack than is possible with the single piece of film currently used. Smith hopes that this will be available later this year. “Currently the available web width is too small for everything on the market.” It is limited to a 242mm high pack with a 40mm gusset.
“At CS Labels we need to offer customers a product that is differentiated for those customers,” he says. “The flexible packaging sector is where the label market was in 2007 when we invested in our first digital press.” As with digital labels, digitally printed flexible packaging addresses supply chain inefficiencies, though CS Labels encounters is own in terms of delivery times for the substrates it uses. Standardising on an outer film rather than having to hold many styles of film will help.
“We are looking at shorter runs where the requirement is for multiple Skus, where speed to market is essential. A lot of SME companies are currently having to buy from China where there are quality concerns and a four- to six-weeks' lead time,” he says.
CS Labels will be able to beat these delivery times from a minimal order starting at 700 metres, around 5,000 units.
By Gareth Ward