This is the first of the inkjet presses for flexible packaging to be installed in Japan and the first in the world to go into operation. An installation in Italy is close behind, having passed initial testing.
The Sapphire Evo is a joint development between Uteco, leading provider of flexo and gravure presses for packaging, and Kodak whose Stream inkjet heads deliver the water based ink needed for food packaging.
Kinyosha is a 94-year-old business employing around 300. As well as digital, it runs flexo and gravure presses for film and paper packaging, while also being involved in publishing digital media and print for the computer games sector, and printing window film graphics. It operates from three sites in Japan, all set up as smart factories.
Gotemba is the main UV litho sheetfed plant, the head office is Utsonomiya City and the flexible packaging plant is at Oguchi. All plants have digital printing with the Oguchi factory having the Uteco press.
With commissioning complete, the company plans to attack new markets though Digital Package Print International, a subsidiary set up to market the potential of the press. “Kinyosha is looking forward to new business opportunities with the Sapphire Evo and the ability to drive new digital concepts for our customers,” says Izumi Makino, president of DP2 International.
“It is exciting to be the first operating installation site in the world for this ground breaking capability in the packaging market. The flexibility to digitally print on flexible substrates and papers with environmentally friendly inks will enable us to offer our brand customers new creative solutions.”
The company has set up the press with offline priming to make it easier to switch production between different materials, including PP, BOPP, PET and PE films. It will run inks that are qualified for skin contact on personal care products and for indirect food contact.
For Kodak, Randy Vandagriff, president digital print group and VP of Eastman Kodak, says this “is fantastic proof that Stream inkjet technology meets both printers’ and brands’ requirements for a high performance, high quality, full colour production digital solution for flexible substrates with very short make ready times and minimal waste.”
“Packaging converters now have a digital solution at their fingertips which lets them expand their portfolios with totally new applications and simultaneously save time and money by migrating work from traditional printing processes to digital,” adds Aldo Peretti, president and CEO of Uteco.