The business, close to Milan, supplies different styles of coffee to small bars and cafes around Italy. Most are family owned as the major chains that proliferate in the UK and the US cannot get a foothold here. And each wants the family name on the bags of coffee that customers come into buy whether as beans, as capsules, fine or medium ground coffees. In all the operation deals with 1,400 Skus.
Until the advent of digital, rolls of flexo preprinted packaging had to be stored and extracted for the form fill pouch machine when needed, finished with a simple label to identify the individual store. There had to be a better way – perhaps by printing as part of the filling machine.
The producer of the filling machine could not help at first, but knew of Memjet’s technology for printing large format display graphics. The only issue was that the coffee producer needed a webfed machine and Memjet’s technology needed either to break the web or work with sheets in order for the system to clean the heads to rise and do its job.
A way was found to avoid this and the MVZ1000 was the result. It prints on the roll at the steady 9m/minute fine quality (1600x1600dpi) speed of the Memjet Versapass heads with a festoon system acting as a buffer, either ahead of the slower bag filling process or while the heads are being cleaned so that the line itself does not stop.
The five printheads across array gives a print width of 1067mm, and while it uses a water based dye ink, so needing a suitable coating on the packaging material, quality seems not to be an issue compared to benefit. The Memjet heads will also print at 18m/min at a 1600x800dpi resolution 1.2 picolitre droplet.
Caffé 101 is running two more of the machines only a year after installation of the first with a further pair on order. And now a second Italian company is using the digital press to produce customised packaging, but of sugar sachets rather than coffee. These too can be identified with the particular bar without that owner needing to place a minimum order for 120kg of sachets at a time, tying up cash and storage space.
“The whole production at Caffé 101 will be digitally printed,” says Peter Barton, managing director of Reprocad, Rigoli’s sales partner in the UK.
The first in the UK has now been installed at Chartley Coffee at Hixon in Staffordshire. While the coffee culture is not the same as in Italy, there is a growing trend for specialist coffees for discerning and bearded consumers. Chartley has been at the forefront, running five large roasters, sourcing beans from growers across the world and has been a family business since its foundation in 1979. The MVZ1000 line runs roll to roll, both unwind and rewind capable of holding jumbo reels and controlling tension which is necessary for the subsequent filling process to run smoothly.
Chartley will also pack tea and other beverages on behalf of third parties, making the Rigoli machine ideal for contract packing companies, says Barton. “The full metre+ print width allows for many package sizes to be produced. In real life situations it is quite normal to need a production run with 500 packages of design X, 200 packages of design Y, 50 packages using design Z and so on. The MVZ1000 printer can cope with this thanks its internal workflow management.”
Owain Antcliff, managing director at Chartley Coffee, confirms: “Having the MVZ means that we can offer a wider range of solutions for our loyal customers and enable us to be more responsive and add value to our offering.” Promotional and also personalised packaging is now available.
Barton has also been speaking about the technology to a sweet producing company that is exporting to Africa. “If they get an order, initially for a small batch of, say, ten boxes, the value of that order is swallowed by the cost of printing the wrapping on a flexo line. If demand takes off and the customer comes back, fine. But someone has to take the risk because of the initial cost of supplying that customer. With digital there is no cost for artwork, plates, nor a minimum order quantity and the producer can supply with far less downside.”
The Chartley press has been installed in an environmentally controlled purpose built room where the dust is filtered from the air and humidity controlled. The water based ink is susceptible to drying in hot temperatures or misbehaving in extreme cold and dust can shorten printhead life.
The UK company is the first with the technology to run Memjet’s new Niagara inks which although dye inks are water resilient. They also extend the life of the printhead.
For Rigoli, the development of the Memjet Duraflex head is another opportunity. Two heads together will give the 600mm or so width that many end customers want to suit existing filling lines, beyond the artisan coffee sector.
Rigoli has been successful with a machine developed to help a coffee company reduce warehousing by producing short run packages for coffee bars and cafes in Italy. Now it has installed a first in the UK at a coffee supplier here.