Flexible packaging

Flexible packaging finds itself in the spotlight. On one hand, packaging film substrates provide the best performance when it comes to food preservation in relation to carbon footprint, on the other hand, the use of flexible packaging is under pressure because it is associated with a negative environmental impact. The latter is more a matter of poor consumer behavior than a characteristic of the packaging itself.

The term Flexible Packaging covers a wide variety of different products, ranging from all kinds of pouches, pillow bags, and sachets to paper and plastic wraps and more. These types all have in common that they are made from flexible materials and in their final shape, the packaging still is flexible. With some exemptions like lids for cheese or meat trays. Combined, form a semi-rigid packaging.


Flexible packaging materials

Depending on its specific function requirements flexible packaging can be made from a broad range of different film substrates like PE, PP, PET, PA, their derivates like for example CPP, OPP, and BOPP, and an endless list of combinations including barrier layers and functional coatings. For reasons of sustainability and recycling production of flexible packaging from mono-materials is the trend.

Functionality and safety

Flexible packaging frequently contains and preserves sensitive food products. Non-Intentional Added Substances (NIAS) can contaminate the food on the inside. Strict safety measures and standards are required during the preparation, printing, and converting process to prevent NIAS. GMP and the correct choice and dimensioning of substrates, inks, and adhesives are key!

Nowadays, food safety regulations in the EU, North America, and many other countries are very strict. This is one of the drivers to equip hybrid web offset printing presses with EB (Electron Beam) ink curing systems to meet the high demands regarding food safety and productivity.

DG-AUXO hybrid web offset for packaging

Quality printing of flexible packaging requires the use of high-end web-printing presses that ensure high quality and productivity while at the same time not damaging or reshaping the material.

The DG-AUXO hybrid sleeve web offset press series is developed to print on virtually all types of packaging substrates as long as the surface conditions of the film are sufficiently ink receptive.

Therefore the surface energy of flexible substrates must be at a certain level to provide good ink transfer and adhesion to the substrate. Most film substrates have undergone a corona treatment during production, providing a good surface energy level, but this energy level deteriorates over time. Therefore web offset printing presses for flexible packaging and labels are typically equipped with an in-line corona treatment unit to raise and refresh the surface energy of films before printing.

Other films have a multi-functional coating, like for example acrylic, that provides good transfer and adhesion for the inks. In-line corona refreshment on the press is not needed for this kind of film.

Sustainable production process

Growing awareness about the serious environmental concerns, including high energy consumption, on the use of solvent-based inks in flexo and gravure printing, are driving packaging printers, converters, and brand owners to seek ways of packaging printing with a lower carbon footprint. 

The hybrid web offset presses from DG press with electron beam curing have the advantage that they can be operated without solvents, have zero VOC emissions, and have a lower energy consumption.

Learn about the cutting edge advantages of DG-AUXO web offset with electron beam curing.

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