The start up packaging business currently has eight of the Indigo 20000 machines, having only started in business in 2016 with a single digital press. The company becomes the largest user of the digital press for flexible packaging. HP has an installed base of 160 machines to date.
The company now operates from eight locations across the US. By the time the last of the new presses is installed in 2020, ePac will have 28 Indigo 20000 machines running in 15 sites. It will take delivery of one machine a month over the next 16 months.
EPac is focused on packaging for energy and sports nutrition foods, the majority using pouches. Its strategy is to offer these businesses a more flexible service than is possible with conventional flexo printing, as well as opportunities for personalisation that come with digital printing. Carl Joachim, CMO says: "These markets happen to be great markets for us, in part due to the nature of our products and services, and in part because these a rapidly growing markets with quite a number of SMBs that benefit from our value proposition."
“Our customers are benefitting from an improved experience, including completing orders within ten business days, compared to six to 12 weeks for conventional printing, as well as reduced environmental impact and on-demand customisation,” says CEO Jack Knott.
This can be used for rapid A/B testing of different styles of packaging, vastly reducing the amount of time this would normally take. It will also enable new products and brands to come to market without the commitment of long print runs, say 2,000 at a time. Nevertheless it is competitive on runs of 150,000 units compared to the flexo alternative. "We do not do sample pouches - all work is production. We do promotional runs due to our ability to turn work rapidly, and economically produce short and medium run length jobs," says Joachim. The target is "virtually any market that uses pouches, snacks, confection, jerky, cheese, coffee, pet food, etc. our website has a complete list of market segments," he adds.
Once printed the reels are laminated on a Nordamerica Super Simplex SL solvent-free lamination and then a Mamata Vega 410 pouch making unit.
As well as pouches the company is positioned to produce shrink sleeve labels, though has no intention of offering conventional self adhesive labels. The focus is on serving customers in a region rather than building a connected network of production sites working for larger clients. Each site will be run by different owner operators under the e-Pac umbrella, running PrintOS to maximise productivity and performance, but not for sharing jobs, though this will be possible.
The company has the backing of Arion Partners led by Knott, a former CEO of Coveris and one time partner at Sun Capital Partners. The first plant was in Wisconsin, the second in Boulder, Colorado, chosen in part because of the expansion of the cannabis industry in the state where the number of start up businesses is high.