Sihl advances position in packaging
Sihl advances position in packaging
Flexible packaging printed using aqueous inkjet is the target of Sihl’s latest innovations. David Pittman reports
Sihl is introducing new products as it seeks to expand the market for aqueous inkjet printing of flexible packaging.
The company’s core competency lies in developing and applying inkjet coatings for different applications. These are developed for all inkjet technologies, applied to numerous kinds of material, and are suitable for labels, tickets and tags, commercial printing, and other graphic arts applications. Packaging is a more recent addition to its portfolio, launched at the start of 2018. The first grade of flexible packaging material suitable for aqueous inkjet printing was introduced in September last year.
David Radtke, head of group marketing at Sihl, comments: ‘Our detailed analysis of market needs, our core competence in coating materials and our reliable network of external system partners enabled us to bring the packaging material, ink, printing head, hardware and software in line in order to create an innovation for narrow web converters.
‘If you look at the likes of printing head manufacturers for aqueous inkjet in dye and in pigmented ink, we’re getting to speed and quality levels where it’s very interesting. We believe now is the right time.’
Ronny Kunze, Sihl´s head of global business development, packaging, adds: ‘We carried over our experience in how to coat and treat substrates to enable printability, and have applied and modified them to match the demands of flexible packaging. As a result, Sihl created a packaging film, printable via aqueous inkjet in best quality up to high speed with functionary properties like barrier, sealability with heat or ultrasonic, tightness boost, flex-crack resistance, easy opening, and proven machineability on diverse packing and filling lines in both vertical and horizontal form-fill-seal machines.’
All of Sihl’s flexible packaging products are sold by the company directly under the Artysio Packaging brand. All Artysio Packaging products have been developed for direct contact with food and to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) principles. The portfolio is being extended with new grades to include PET and OPP, in super white, transparent, metallized and barrier coated with suitable oxygen and water transmission rates (OTR/WTR). A pure PP product has also been developed (see boxout).
An Artysio Packaging concept for narrow web print and pack has also been introduced. This all-in-one printing and packing system allows customers to enlarge their business models for gift and event packaging. Alongside this, time to market, waste and warehousing will also decrease to a minimum by printing and packing on demand. Doing so means minimum lot sizes and layout diversity is ‘no longer a pain for realization but a new market opportunity,’ states Sihl.
For this development, Sihl has cooperated with various component manufacturers to create a system that allows small quantities of flexible packaging to be produced in custom designs. Press add-ons for converting facilitate end-to-end production for short runs, both at converters and for small-batch in-house production by end users. The system is configurable for a number of flexible packaging formats, whether stand-up pouches, vertical/horizontal form-fill-seal, or block bottom bags.
The system is being pitched as suitable for packaging for teas, coffees, snacks, nuts, confectionary, chocolate, pet food and detergents.
The first machines have been sold into the market and Kunze notes: ‘Sihl supplies a new packaging material for the production of functional packaging solutions printed with an eco-friendly aqueous inkjet method. Thanks to an excellent market knowledge and a reliable network of partners it´s possible to advise our customers on the process of aqueous inkjet printing and converting of flexible packaging.
‘For example, if you’re a start-up looking to sell toasted almonds worldwide, you need to understand the appropriate barrier characteristics to prevent spoilage and maximize shelf life.’
Kunze further notes the importance of establishing partnerships to allow effective flexible packaging production using aqueous inkjet printing at a technical level: ‘Networking and cross-linking with the supply chain are key to aligning the material properties to the machine capabilities, and downstream mechanical processes and chemistries. It is also important to ensure outstanding print quality. We have a portfolio partner that is able to modify existing artwork to suit aqueous inkjet printing, ensuring ink coverage and laydown, and applying ink droplet landing compensation.
‘Flexible packaging is a huge market, which continues to grow. It is important that the materials are suitable for this application and that is what we are focused on. With our partners, we are then able to go to market with a turnkey solution. In turn, this allows business of all sorts to bring short-run flexible packaging production into their business.’
‘With aqueous inkjet, the opportunities are fantastic,’ he concludes. ‘With Artysio, we are aiming to open up the opportunities to an even wider audience of narrow web converters and end users.’
Sihl’s recycling efforts
Sihl has developed a pure PP grade of flexible packaging material which allows it to be recycled. The independent auditing company Interseroh has confirmed the recyclability of single-material polypropylene packaging films from Sihl’s Artysio range with the ‘Made for Recycling’ certificate. These products scored a maximum 20 out of 20 possible points in the audit.