Development Of Flexible Packaging

- Apr 12, 2019-

There are many kinds of printing techniques for packaging bags, such as flexo, gravure, embossing, silk screen printing, etc. Among them, flexo printing has entered China since the 1990s, and has experienced the replacement of rubber plates from the beginning, from carton printing, to label printing, carton preprinting. , milk package printing, flexible packaging printing. It is step by step to break the traditional view that Chinese people believe that flexographic printing (hereinafter referred to as flexo printing) can only engage in low-end printing.

As the country's requirements for environmental protection are getting higher and higher, the management of enterprises is becoming more and more strict; foreign end customers specify the use of flexo printing due to the needs of global strategy; the installed capacity of wide-format satellite printers is greatly improved; Continuous improvement in technology. Flexo printing is gradually breaking the situation of gravure printing in the field of flexible packaging.

Market and development of flexo flexible packaging

Internationally, flexible packaging is constantly replacing metal, glass and other container packaging, and the flexographic printing process just solves the problem that the film is not conducive to printing. Flexo has a 60% share in soft packaging printing in the world, which has an absolute relationship with the “green” nature of flexo printing.

The proportion of the entire flexo market in Asia Pacific and China is much lower than that in Europe and the United States. The Asia Pacific region is also twice as large as the Chinese market. In March of this year, the author made a field visit to the application of Australian flexo on soft packs. It was found that flexo printing has the following characteristics in the application industry of flexible packaging in Australia and in printing:

(1) Fast moving consumer goods (bread bags, potato chips packaging, biscuit packaging, chocolate packaging, etc.), the number of printing lines is generally between 100-175 lines (lpi).

(2) Frozen food composite packaging (frozen beef, frozen lamb, frozen fruit, frozen vegetables, etc.), between 150-200 lines (lpi).

(3) Tissue paper packaging, sanitary packaging materials (paper packaging and inner packaging, diapers, sanitary napkin packaging), the number of printing plates between 100-120 lines (lpi).

(4) Pet food (cat food, dog food), the number of printing lines between 133-175 lines (lpi).

(5) Wide-width labels (shrink film labels, various types of beverage food labels), and the number of printing lines is between 150 and 175 lines (lpi).

Looking back at China's soft pack market, although the use of flexo printing technology is indeed increasing year by year, the industry expansion is also very fast, but the industry involved is not as extensive as Australia and Europe and the United States, mainly concentrated in the following market segments and fields: food packaging bags , PE heat shrinkable color film and sanitary packaging.

The food safety automation is mainly for pasta bags and frozen meat shrink bags; PE heat shrinkable color film is mainly applied to the bundled packaging of beer, beverage and pure water; the sanitary packaging field is mainly concentrated on baby and feminine care products. . These are all incremental segments of flexo printing.

Among the baby and feminine care products in which hygienic products are packaged, most of the flexo printing uses foreign brands, or the printing method of flexo printing is specified by foreign terminal brand customers. The food outsourcing bag was first used by foreign printing companies to use flexo printing, and most of the products were exported to foreign countries. In recent years, some domestic companies have also seen this market using domestic satellite machines or imported flexo presses for production.

Analysis of advantages and disadvantages of flexo and gravure

As we all know, flexo printing and printing of flexo packaging is mainly to replace gravure printing (hereinafter referred to as gravure printing). Here are some advantages and disadvantages of gravure and flexo printing.

The biggest dilemma facing gravure is safety and environmental protection.


(1) Food safety

The function of food packaging itself is to protect food safety and not to contaminate food in turn. Residues in food packaging are mainly derived from "printing" and "composite processes." As humans value their health, we must face the impact of gravure packaging on the environment and food safety:

a. The client requests proof of the biosafety and chemical stability of the packaging materials issued by the authority;

b. Some customers require a commitment letter for packaging materials safety;

c. Some foreign companies even require human sensitivity testing.

(2) Gravure plate making

In the electroplating process of the gravure plate making process, in addition to the discharge of waste water, the discharge of exhaust gas during electroplating is also the cause of atmospheric damage. With the country's emphasis on the environment, the control of the electroplating industry has increased. The cost of gravure printing will also increase.

(3) VOC emissions

The emission of VOC in printing enterprises has attracted the attention of the national environmental protection department. In the successive policies and regulations on air pollution control, packaging printing has been listed as a key governance industry. At present, Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities have begun to collect VOC emission fees.

In contrast, flexo printing, the potential advantage in flexible packaging printing can just make up for the three dilemmas of gravure printing. The main advantages of flexo printing are:

(1) Green, safe and healthy

Flexo printing mostly uses alcohol-soluble inks in rotary packaging printing. Some companies are currently testing or trying to use aqueous ink systems. The amount of ink used in the same product is only about 50% of the gravure. This reduces VOC emissions and solves the problem of residual solvents on the packaging.

(2) Accurate registration, thinner and more diverse substrates

Flexo printing is mostly used in flexible packaging printing. The satellite printing machine uses a central embossing roller, so the printing tension is stable, and it can print thinner materials; the embossing point is short and the overprinting is accurate.

(3) Fast speed, high yield and low energy consumption

For the same product, flexo printing is only 50% of the power used for gravure printing.

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