Digital Magazine

Flint Holds Narrow Web Conference


TRELLEBORG, SWEDEN | Flint Group hosted a narrow web conference and open house recently in Malmö, Sweden, welcoming label converters, market-leading suppliers, and brand owners from 25 countries.

Titled “What’s Next in Narrow Web?” the event featured seminars from suppliers including Mars, Raflatac, Nilpeter, Phoseon, and GEW, followed by a tour of Flint’s nearby Trelleborg European headquarters, where a new Nilpeter press has been installed to test all types of narrow web inks, including UV-LED curable flexo, offset, and screen inks.

Antoine Fady, CEO, Flint Group, announced the organization’s investment in an enlarged, dedicated customer support network. The company will open up to 15 new service centers in the next three years. The company says the investment comes in response to the label converters’ increasingly complex service and product requirements, ultimately driven by the need to support brand-owners with safer, low-migration inks for food, color quality standardization, and higher press performance.

Tapio Kolunsarka, VP, UPM Raflatac, says the self-adhesive label market has doubled its market share in the last 20 years due to incremental innovations. He says the growth has been achieved thanks to collaboration between ink, machine, substrate, and service manufacturers. Tapio expects material waste reductions of between 30% and 50% from existing presses and intense focus on reducing film liner and facestock thicknesses in the next decade.

Tom Hammer, product manager, narrow web, North America at Flint Group, introduced the concept of curing by Ultra Violet Light Emitting Diode (UV-LED curing). Emitting a narrow wavelength, peaking at around 395nm, the UV-LED process has significant advantages over mercury lamps as a means of curing UV inks: up to 20,000 hours of on-time, without degrading; the ability to switch on and off; lower lamp temperature due to elimination of infrared waves; 50% lower energy consumption; ability to run shrink films without chillers; avoidance of ozone emissions and safer working environment.

Flint Group’s recently launched EkoCure flexo and screen ink range has been specially formulated to work with a range of UV-LED light sources. Now that several narrow web press makers are actively installing and promoting UV-LED systems globally, Hammer expects to see the technology make significant market penetration.

Nilpeter announced the installation of a hybrid, offset-flexo press dedicated to testing the performance of Flint UV-LED curable inks at the ink manufacturer’s Trelleborg testing facilities. Nilpeter’s sales and marketing director, Jakob Landberg, says, “Using open platforms for easy exchange of processes at each head, the press configuration comprises three flexo, two offset, one UV-rotary screen, plus two cold foil units. With open architecture, conventional UV, UV-LED lamps on all printheads, and UV-inert gas on two, the press will be instrumental in advancing performance in terms of curing time, emissions and migration levels.” Additional hot air drying on the press also enables testing of aqueous inks.

During a narrow web testimonial presentation, Constantia Flexibles, Mason, OH, revealed 50% flexo run-speed improvements flexo and 65% run-speed improvement on white screen, with no discernible differences in opacity or ink yield compared with mercury-cured inks. The company says the UV-LED ink system uses only 25% of the power that a conventional mercury system uses.

Guillaume Clement, VP, global narrow web, Flint Group, says, “The fast pace of technological, regulatory, and economic changes, combined with the increasing power of brand equity, present significant opportunities and challenges to the narrow web industry. By bringing converters, brand owners, and suppliers at several stages of the workflow together, the event provided a catalyst for sharing market expertise and perspectives. Judging by the positive attendee feedback, we are confident this event is providing the insight necessary for sound strategic decision-making and the basis for a stronger industry.”

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