PHOTO: The first digitally printed IML jobs rolled off the machine shortly after installation, and some guests at the launch function in Booysens were even able to see their labels being printed
REN-FLEX of Johannesburg, the label manufacturing business in the Ren-Form group, has installed a highly advanced digital press for the printing of IML labels, taking it one step further towards its goal of becoming one of Africa’s top label manufacturers.
The HP Smartstream Digital press for labels and packaging is the only digital printer in Africa being used for the production of IML (in-mould labelling) labels – and Ren-Flex got off to a flying start with the new technology, achieving fantastic quality virtually from the first production run.
The SmartStream printer, powered by Esko, can print at speeds up to 42m a minute, run a maximum web width of 740mm and print on media thickness from 10-250 microns on a wide variety of films – including all the main films used for IML labels currently. BOPP films are the most popular for IML products currently, with 5-layer BOPP films being the choice of brand owners in some cases. Varnishes used to coat the labels are being imported.
The system was introduced to customers at a ‘Fire & Ice’ open house event held at Ren-Flex’s new premises in Booysens in April.
Besides the fact that it’s digital, the new system offers considerably faster set-up times and is literally more flexible than systems used to date. Several of SA’s top bottle and containers manufacturers attended the event, in some cases conveniently being able to inspect the quality and progress of jobs being run on the new system.
The new HP printer also offers the major advantage of being suited for short-run label print orders, which has opened a whole new market. Previously food and beverage manufacturers, or for that matter suppliers of any product in which thin-wall containers are used (where IML is feasible) were reluctant to print as large orders were required – and these were difficult to justify with product introductions. The new machine has hence opened the door for a number of new medium-sized food and beverage manufacturers who have recently entered the market.
According to Ren-Form chief operating officer Albe Naudé, the digital project has led to significant changes at the group. It moved its label printing business from nearby Selby to impressively renovated premises in nearby Booysens and set up a state of the art plant, with the aim of meeting global print standards.