Goss International has reinvigorated the debate about printing processes for packaging with the assertion that changing requirements - combined with its own new press technology - create the right conditions for a wider adoption of web offset for folding carton, flexible packaging and label applications.
New Goss Sunday Vpak variable sleeve presses, which will be featured at drupa 2012, introduce an entirely new way to exploit the inherent print quality, cost and agility advantages of web offset, according to Peter Walczak, Goss International director of product management for packaging presses.
Walczak says that, while packaging has not been directly threatened by electronic alternatives and remains a growing print sector, the pressures on packaging producers mirror those found in the other sectors. "Margins are tightening, brand owners and marketers are demanding higher print quality, and run lengths and turn-around times are coming down to achieve more dynamic, targeted and personalized packaging," he explains. Add in emerging environmental, product safety and security issues, and it is no wonder that current print production methods are being analyzed so closely with an eye on improvement opportunities.
"With new variable sleeve press technology available in web widths up to 1905mm (75 inches) to address these requirements, the time is right to consider, or reconsider, web offset alternatives to flexo, gravure or sheetfed offset for some applications," Walczak adds.
In addition to the benefits of high productivity and comparatively low costs for imaging versus gravure and plates versus flexo, Goss maintains that offset provides a more versatile and stable process for many packaging requirements. Simplified and automated makeready processes not only mean fast start-ups for new or repeat jobs, but also quicker and easier adjustments during production.
High line screens and sophisticated screening techniques, such as FM or stochastic screening, can also be accommodated easily via offset, improving print quality while avoiding screen clashes, moirés and other defects. The ability to print solids and screens for a particular color from one plate on the same unit further enhances simplicity and cost-effectiveness.
"Consumers and marketers increasingly expect the print quality and vibrancy of a product's packaging to make it stand out from competitors and match the brochures, videos and other promotional materials for that product," according to Walczak. "Offset is the proven print process for the highest quality at high speed and competitive cost."
Powerful productivity complements the quality and cost advantages of web offset. The new Goss Sunday Vpak presses print at up to 457 meters (1,500 feet) per minute. The result is output capabilities up to 200 percent higher than those of a sheetfed press, along with reduced substrate costs, greater substrate range and inline converting.
Goss International also presents the variable-sleeve Sunday Vpak models as preferable alternatives to cassette-style web offset packaging presses that rely on cumbersome and costly cassettes to achieve repeat variations. Available in web widths up to 1905mm (75 inches) and 1041mm (41 inches), respectively, the Sunday Vpak 3000 and Sunday Vpak 500 press models feature quick-change blanket and plate cylinder sleeve adapters, which make ‘infinitely' variable repeat lengths easier and more affordable.
Proven concepts and technologies from industry-leading Goss Sunday commercial web presses were incorporated in the new Vpak presses. Sleeve experience and unique, proven Goss technologies to manage presetting, ink, water, web tension, register, closed-loop controls, drying and other variables in the most demanding offset environments support the advantages of the packaging presses, according to Walczak. He notes that more than 2,000 Goss Sunday printing units with sleeve technology are in operation worldwide, printing at up to 15 meters per second (3,000 feet per minute) and on webs up to 2860mm (112 inches) wide. "We have also demonstrated that we specialize in working with customers to integrate web offset lithography within advanced and highly-customized production systems, a key for packaging."