Do flexible packaging and digital printing go hand in hand?
According to common belief, digital printing hasn’t been successfully used for flexible packaging until recently. The Irish printer Fox Packaging (formerly Foster Packaging) has successfully proved that for years package printing with flexible, film-based substrates has been possible with a digital press.
Digital printing of flexible packaging is on the rise. This is not surprising given the impact that digital printing has had in the label arena over the past decade or so and the attention (in the form of significant development efforts) it is being given by major industry suppliers. drupa 2012 was used as a launch platform to introduce a number of new digital presses and technologies for the printing of packaging materials (folding cartons and flexible packaging). Since many of these events, “introductions” and presses were still in development, their mainstream commercial impact is still, today, in the domain of beta testing and early adopters. Read the full article in our eDossier “Do flexible packaging and digital printing go hand in hand?”.
But one company, Foxpak Flexibles Ltd., based in Dunleer, Co. Louth, Ireland, saw an opportunity to be an early adopter of digital printing for flexible packaging well before these 2012 introductions. The company is a specialist supplier of both digital and gravure printed packaging to the food and non-food sectors. What this progressive company did was to incorporate what it saw happening in the label market with its own vision of flexible packaging applications.
Our business philosophy is to identify ‘gaps’ in the flexible packaging market and bring these products to the market,” says Paul Young, Managing Director for Foxpak. “We saw the development of digital printing in the label business and we wanted to offer something new to the flexible packaging market. We carried out a feasibility study and decided to enter the market based on our findings.”
Long flexible packaging experience
The folks at Foxpak had a good understanding of the flexible packaging market, as Foxpak was established in 1999 as a trading company supplying flexible packaging to the food and non-food sectors. While it was initially focused on domestic markets, the company grew over the years and now supplies many markets in Europe and the USA. Part of this growth can, without doubt, be attributed to its keen eye for new developments and its willingness to be out in front of new developments. According to Young, Foxpak started supplying stand-up pouches and spout pouches well ahead of the popular trend for these applications.
Pouches, today, are clearly one of the fastest growth segments in the packaging arena and Foxpak has benefited from its early involvement. The company supplies a variety of pouch formats including stand-up, 3-side seal, side gusset, spout, and retort, along with printed and lidding films and vacuum bags.
“Presently, we convert the majority of our pouches but we see an increase in demand for pouches in roll format for some of the larger customers,” says Young. Its main markets in Europe and the USA include cereal, snack food, seafood, and pet food, in addition to horticulture, veterinary, and pharmaceuticals.
— This article was first published in Flexo & Gravure Global issue 4-2014.—