Single-Source Ink Supplier for Package Printer

An alliance with Flint Ink allows Packaging Products Corp. to meet the needs of three facilities and 150 different customers.

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to things that we buy, we often do judge them by their packaging. In the eyes of consumers, the quality of packaging is a reflection of the product inside. This challenges converters to deliver cost-effective packaging solutions that maintain the consistent color, quality, and appearance customers demand regardless of the environment and conditions the package must endure. A key part of those solutions is the ink. Just ask Packaging Products Corp., Mission, KS.

Many converters address cost-effectiveness by maintaining several vendors that compete with each other to hold down costs. But how can a converter ensure consistent color and packaging performance over an increasingly complex combination of substrates and applications using so many vendors? Packaging Products addressed that challenge from a service-first perspective.

Choosing a Partner
Packaging Products, which has grown from $1 million in sales in 1980 to more than $50 million today, operates out of three facilities across the US and has more than 240 employees. The converter has acquired three companies since 1980 and recently opened a major facility in Rome, GA, on 17.8 acres of land. The new facility will specialize in surface printing on unsupported structures, as well as reverse printing that is then extrusion or adhesive laminated.

The company runs a total of 13 central impression, flexographic presses 24 hr a day, seven days a week, at speeds to 1,200 fpm/press. Presses, supplied by Paper Converting Machine Corp., Windmoeller & Hoelscher, and Kidder, are up to 50 in. wide and run up to eight colors. The converter converts polyethylene, polypropylene, PET, and metallized films from AET, Vifan, Altopro, Mobil, and DuPont.

When it came to inks, Packaging Products wanted to establish a long-term relationship with a single vendor that could offer the best balance of service, experience, product selection, and price.

After a careful review of ‘sole-source’ proposals submitted by the top ink suppliers to the flexible packaging industry, Packaging Products chose long-time vendor Flint Ink to be its partner in the pressroom.

According to executive VP Laird Dowgray, the alliance has helped Packaging Products run standard and customized inks on a variety of substrates at higher line speeds. “These inks helped yield enhancements in productivity, waste, and turnaround time.

“We're always looking for new acquisitions to help us grow,” says Dowgray. “Our customer base has increased to more than 150, each with its own unique market position and packaging needs. Flint Ink has existing packaging ink systems for all of them. Flint evaluated each of our applications and our equipment and installed the best ink systems for each site. The conversions went quickly, with no downtime.”

Quick turnaround also is important when developing application-specific solutions for customers, regardless of the substrate or end-use environment. Such was the case with two of Packaging Products' valued customers a large greeting card company and the world's largest poultry producer.

A Cold Challenge
The poultry producer presented Packaging Products with a new converting challenge when launching its frozen chicken line. “This job,” says Dowgray, “required an ink with high flex- and crack-resistance to print white opaque PE bags. The ink would have to keep its sparkling appearance from room temperature to minus 40 degrees and back. The pieces of chicken are flash frozen and then wrapped. They harden like rocks and bounce against each other during shipment, so high scuff- and crinkle-resistance in the ink were critically important, too.”

To combat the rigors of this environment, Flint Ink technical personnel performed a battery of tests, including bouncing and stretching printed bags before and after freezing. Dowgray explains that, in order to ensure that when the bag was thawing, the ink wouldn't chip, run, or transfer, Flint designed the inks with a high bond rate over the full range of temperatures and handling that the packages would undergo.

Packaging Products provided the customer with rollstock as well as bags made on a Ro-An bag machine.

Keeping the Message Fresh
Even something as welcome as a sunny day can present a packaging challenge. A long-time Packaging Products customer that produces greeting cards required an ink with increased fade-resistance for a line of Valentine's Day greeting card overwraps printed on clear PE.

Packaging Products assigned the task of formulating more fade-, heat-, and ultraviolet-resistant inks for the overwraps to its dedicated Flint Ink support team. The cards, Dowgray notes, are under constant exposure to store lighting, sunlight, and even heat sealing, and could have a very long shelf life if unsold cards are carried over to the next season.

Borrowing from its experience with special fade-resistant pigments for outdoor packaging, Flint Ink reformulated the ink to produce the desired light fastness and color qualities required, says Dowgray. The inks were subjected to vigorous accelerated tests using special equipment that simulated months of light and weather exposure in only one week.

Flint Ink was able to turn the development and printing around in only two weeks, says Dowgray. “The card was a success and the turnaround time was excellent. This is a prime example of how our ink vendor helped us satisfy a customer. The convenience of having one ink supplier really smoothes over operations when it becomes necessary to transfer jobs from plant to plant. With multiple plants running the same inks, we know that we can shift capacity and jobs to individual plants depending on demand, without affecting the quality or color consistency of the package.”

Dowgray adds, “Coming up with new solutions and improving daily jobs is accomplished easily when working with the right ink supplier. For our growing operation, working with the Flint Ink Packaging Group has become a standard operating procedure.”

Packaging Products Corp.
, Mission, KS; 913/262-3033

Flint Ink
, Ann Arbor, MI; 734/622-6362;

Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC), Green Bay, WI; 920/491-6637;

Windmoeller & Hoelscher, RI; 401/333-2770; 800/854-8702;

Kidder Inc., Agawam, MA; 413/786-8692

AET Films, New Castle, DE; 302/326-5500; 800/688-2044;

Vifan Canada, Montreal, QC, Canada; 514/640-1599

Altopro Inc., Houston, TX; 713/621-2890

Mobil Oil/Specialty Products, Fairfax. VA; 703/846-3000; 800/662-4525

DuPont, Wilmington, DE; 302/892-8960;

Ro-An Industries Corp., Middle Village, NY; 718/821-1115; 800/255-7626;

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