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Coldfoil: Serving in many India's

30 June 2015

Harish Manwani, the chairman of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), while addressing shareholders at the company’s 82nd Annual General Meeting held in Mumbai on 29 June spoke about “serving many Indias”.

20151102081721newsparksonspackaging Kejriwal: "Packaging is no more only about a product or brand."
He argued that serving many Indias essentially requires having a portfolio of brands that reach out to a wide section and ensuring that everyone has access to our brands – rich or poor. “Through our operations, we create a virtuous circle which benefits every geography of India, and we build talent both in terms of leadership as well as skills across the value chain of our operations,” he said.
 
Speaking about the need to serve diverse consumers, he said, “Our approach of developing innovations with consumer price as the starting point is at the heart of our inclusive innovation strategy.” He also spoke about how HUL’s extensive sales and distribution network helps the company reach diverse markets in India making its brands available in every single town and most villages in India. He spoke about how HUL was leveraging technology to reach out to consumers in the most remote and media dark villages.
 
This is what one of their major vendors, Parksons Packaging aims to do. The carton packaging major, Parksons Packaging, headquartered in Mumbai, has become the first Indian company in Asia to implement inline cold foiling technology with the installation of a new KBA Rapida 106 printing press. The press has been running tests at its Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand.
 
So what is the fuss about?
After all, the inline cold foil process is no newcomer to the industry of glitz and shine. In fact, it’s piggybacked on the rotary, narrow-web industry for a decade. Those in the know say, like most technologies, the process has become stable as the equipment, and materials have become more sophisticated. Advancements consistency, adhesion, substrate compatibility, and speed have opened doors to a broader range of foil applications across a variety of markets – markets that otherwise may not have considered foil a viable option.
 
The growth and technological advancement of the cold foil process, particularly with recent developments on the sheetfed offset turf, have left many wondering how the process works, for what applications is it best suited, and in what markets should it tap?
 
Cold foiling for sheetfed
The arrival of two heavy duty press lines on Indian shores has sparked off interest in the inline cold foil process. In the last six months, we have KBA Rapida 106 at Mumbai-based Parksons Packaging and the second, a Heidelberg Speedmaster CD102 with Foilstar at Rave Scans in New Delhi.
 
During brief presentations which both Parksons and Rave hosted, two things emerged.
 
One: That the cold foiling is a print process whereby the heated stamping die used in hot foiling is replaced, and the metallic effect is achieved by printing either UV activated adhesive or a conventional glue. 
 
Two: To achieve the best quality finish from this process, it is important to ensure the compatibility of foil, adhesive, inks and substrate. The main elements to consider are the suitability of the foil, the tackiness and characteristics of the adhesive and the properties of the substrate being used. Cold foiling works best on the smoother substrates; a film, paper or board. Untreated or rough paper substrates are not recommended for cold foiling, being one of the few limitations of this technology.
 
Alternative to metallised
 
What are benefits for end users?
While I spoke to the packaging development heads of two major brands, they said, “Recent innovations in utilising the cold foil process with sheetfed lithography is an alternative to metallised boards and even metallised films (Metpet) which are common with the hot foil stamping methods.
 
Inline cold foiling technology uses a polyester foil base, a heat sensitive material to apply embellishments onto the substrate. The heat sensitivity is of prime functionality here since more and more (flexo) packaging applications require thinner films that tend to be heat sensitive. Applying heat to these substrates through the hot stamping process can cause the material to distort.
 
And so, the cold foiling method not only allows thin films to be foil stamped but also forms a basis that will let the foil actually shrink or expand to a small degree without cracking.
 
The top brands feels, “This has facilitated printing directly on polypropylene, polyethylene and polyester sheets which otherwise is a limitation in hot stamping technology.”
 
Flexibility and control
Testament to this flexibility, printers have been quoted as saying, “We use cold foiling because of the flexibility and control that you can get. We have found most work in the added-value and premium products. This can stretch across any market where shelf standout or perception of high value is required.”
 
Siddharth Kejriwal of Parksons who endorses this statement, says, “Today’s packaging buyers not only want their product to stand out in the clutter of a retail shelf, but also want the product to suitably communicate the story of the brand. Simply put, the packaging is no more only about a product or brand – it is the brand. Cold foiling technology fulfils many of these aspirations.”
 
Shiv Bhatnagar of Rave Scans agrees, “The increase and explosion of the use of cold foil has been helped by the availability of more metallic colours and holographic patterns.”
 
“We can produce a whole gamut of colours in metallic shade in a single pass. The value proposition in this is that you can have metallic effects only at the required spot and not over the entire area like that on a Metpet laminated sheet,” he adds.
 
How it works?
Inline cold foiling is not a process which is cumbersome for a commercial printer. In the litho version, you use a standard printing plate. An image is printed onto a coated substrate with the use of a UV-curable cold foil adhesive or a conventional adhesive.
 
The foil then passes through the nip of the printing press with the substrate that has been printed with the adhesive. Wherever the adhesive is printed is where the foil will adhere. The foil carrier is then rewound into a foil rewind or extracted depending on type of cold foil system and the substrate continues down it path through the printing process to overprint on the foil creating the various colours unless silver is desired.
 
Overprinting with printing inks can then occur in the following printing units.
 
All areas of the sheet, both free and metallised, can be printed. When no foil application is required, the printing unit can be used for normal printing.
 
Advantages over hot foil stamping
According to Bhatnagar, the conventional system of hot foiling will exist. “Not all applications can be switched to cold foiling,” he claims. This is because of the limited availability in foil colours with one of the most popular being silver. To achieve a specific colour it is necessary to lay down ink over silver foil being applied on press.
 
“It is a paradigm change that you can print foil like inks. The half tone vignettes over prints is one big advantage for a packaging company to look upon with cold foiling which is not possible with conventional foiling methods,” he says. 
 
“Compared to the conventional methods, inline cold foil has the biggest advantage of completing post-press processes in the press room itself. It saves extra process expenses, manpower and time and wastages,” explains Aditya Surana of Indo Polygraph Machinery.
 
A technical advantage of cold foiling, which makes it accessible to a wider range of brands and products, is the production efficiency of shorter make-ready times. This both KBA and Heidelberg say is “in minutes”.
 
The inline printing method and associated easier registration significantly improves production time, waste and costs helping to make foiling a viable cost-effective option for retail packaging manufacturers.
 
At a fraction of the cost to manufacture, the use of polymer plates in cold foiling as opposed to the metal plates in hot stamping also help to make it an accessible and affordable technology.
 
Foil colour and brilliance
 
Whilst the true brilliance achieved from hot stamping techniques is not fully replicable with cold foiling, there are significant design advantages that brands can utilise to full effect. 
 
The technical ability to react and cater to the changes in packaging is matched by the ability to produce intricate and innovative design, both in terms of print patterns and colour options.
 
An exciting possibility for cold foiling is the ability to overprint silver foil with coloured inks which allows easy changeability between colours. The whole idea behind cold foil process is you don’t need various colours of foil in stock and you can create with CMYK or Pantone colours, to create literally any colour in the colour palette. The same is not the case with hot foils, where-in you need to have that particular foil colour in stock.
 
Cool applications
Inline cold foils can find use in a variety of spaces in the printing and packaging industry. To list a few, we have the security printing with holograms as cold foils, in brands where fine lines and intricate designs, as well as half-tone effects are required and even wet-glue and shrink sleeves.
 
Deitmar Heyduck of KBA in his speech at the inauguration of Asia’s first cold foil technology at the Parksons event in the Palladium said, “In-line cold foiling has already proved to be a boon for packaging printers around the world in terms of security and sustainability, and comes with innumerable advantages.”
 
“In terms of sustainability, cold foiling eliminates plastic and is 100% recyclable,” he adds.
 
Holograms and other forms of overt security features have had limited success in the marketplace to help consumers differentiate between genuine and fake packaging. “Cold foiling addresses this issue beautifully. We can not only create great designs but combine it with some complex techniques of using foil to make copying the packaging nearly impossible,” adds Heyduck.
 
Ultimately, the most successful packaging designs are achieved when the combination of foil material, design and printing process is cohesive and all these elements should be considered from the very start of a project in order to achieve a product that stands out in retail environments.
 
Cold foiling is a prime example of how different design options are accessible in mainstream retail packaging design, expanding the field of foils by offering an alternative not a replacement to hot stamping foils.
 
In his AGM talk, Harish Manwani explained that HUL’s Winning in Many Indias model is the underlying objective of winning in all parts of the business and across channels and geographies. He says, “This model helps us serve our diverse consumer base in a more differentiated and relevant way across the country.” The inline cold foil is part of this print outreach which caters to 30 factories across India.

 

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