Flexographic printers lead the charge toward in-line coating and laminating system installations.
By David Luttenberger
Running a press can be a big enough job in itself. Add in-line coating/laminating capabilities, and the classic "if one process is down, the whole line is down" scenario rears its head. Still, a number of package printers have taken on this in-line process's responsibilities with gusto.
Matt Tielkemeier, VP/GM at Dri-Tec, reports that most of his company's in-line coating/laminating units currently in the field are installed behind 6- to 8-color flexo presses printing flexible packaging.
The vast majority of these systems, he elaborates, apply laminating adhesive to the primary substrate, dry it, and then laminate a second barrier material to the primary substrate. However, he reports growing enthusiasm for adding a second pattern coater to the line for in-register application of cold seal adhesive, or in-register printing of game rules or coupons on the inside of packaging such as candy bars, soda bottle labels and hamburger wrappers.
The sudden surge of interest in cold seal can be directly attributed to product purchasing trends. Tom Jacques, marketing strategist for Paper Converting Machine Company (PCMC), cites time-pressed consumers' burgeoning demand for snack bars, granola bars and other individually wrapped foods eaten on-the-go. Cold seal permits temperature-sensitive products like chocolate to be wrapped on packaging machines under low temperatures, preserving the product's structural integrity.
The added benefit of registered cold seal is precise placement of the adhesive for low usage and waste levels, which in turn helps create a crisp-looking package, Jacques adds.
Flexographic presses have led the charge toward in-line installations, primarily because setting up a coating/laminating unit for flexo is easier and cheaper than for a gravure press, and the flexo process offers more flexibility in the face of changeovers. Gravure in-line coating/laminating units are more often dedicated to one job, observes Tielkemeier.