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Trade Comment


With packaging identified regularly by businesses as a growth market, Carys Evans asks: "what equipment is necessary to enter the lucrative industry of packaging?”

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Craig Bretherton, product and marketing manager, Koenig & Bauer

Choose your weapon

With a predicted compound annual growth rate of 4 to 6% by 2021 it is no surprise that printers may be considering making a switch to producing packaging materials. The first question for any printer considering entering this potentially lucrative market should be “what kind of packaging do I want to produce?” Koenig & Bauer produce a broad range of presses and finishing equipment with a large focus on packaging production encompassing flexo, litho and digital. Effectively, the type of packaging would determine the type of equipment purchased.

Koenig & Bauer produces a broad range of presses and finishing equipment with a large focus on packaging production

There are also very specific sectors within packaging printing such as food packaging, luxury packaging and pharmaceuticals. Identifying the sector will help to narrow down the machine and equipment choice even further. For example, if luxury packaging was the chosen sector, a press with a minimum of six colours and board handling or logistics equipment is a must, as well as a minimum of one coater capable of producing a combination of both water-based and UV high gloss coatings.

If you are considering food packaging, which can be both flexible materials and rigid boards, the types of inks and coatings used has to be considered. A decision here (again based upon the volumes and type of materials produced) could lead to water-based inking via flexo, or low migration inks and coatings on sheet-fed litho. Some companies produce on plastics, foil boards and cartons, so a press with UV capability is essential. However, the most commonly specified presses are combination presses which allows production with both UV and conventional inks.

The pharmaceutical sector now requires inspection systems to ensure that what is being produced has been checked for faults that may lead to errors in dosage. Increasingly, these devices such as Koenig & Bauer’s QualiTronic PDF high-res. are used inside the press for automatic set up and ‘Defect Free’ production.

The type of packaging produced will also determine what type of finishing and front end equipment would be required. Cartons manufacturers’ tend to have specialist equipment and software for design as well as traditional heavy metal equipment such as die cutters and folder gluers.

Focus on

Paul Marsh, managing director, The Packaging Experts

When I set up The Packaging Experts five years ago (after being made redundant) I used my experience and my contacts to develop a unique support network of companies and individuals, who could take care of the straight forward elements; but I knew I needed to invest in my own equipment to retain control of the quality of the finished products and harder to source services.

No two days are the same and ‘standard’ products don’t really exist in our world

No two days are the same and ‘standard’ products don’t really exist in our world. You need to invest a huge amount of time and money into each and every opportunity and as material yields vary so much from style to style, it is very difficult to automate job costings. This is even more difficult if you are outsourcing large elements of the manufacturing. Our investment strategy was very much that we wanted to have control within a very short space of time as we don’t want to be reliant on outsourced suppliers when working to tight deadlines. As we have in-house design, printing, foiling, gluing, taping and cutting, the machines we use vary in size and capabilities and I already have one eye on the next generation of machines that will help us broaden our offering even further.

Packaging is such a broad term, so if you are looking to enter the “packaging market”, you would need to be very clear on which area you are looking to focus on. From here you will be able to ascertain what equipment is needed in order to compliment the machines you already have. With every new machine you will need additional staff, existing staff cross-trained, space to house all of the equipment, and obviously the cash to buy it and the customers banging at your door wanting you to do this work for them. My advice would be take it steady, work with partners who can offer you all the help you need from design all the way through to delivery, and then once you have created the demand, you will know what equipment to invest in and when.

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