Noel D’Cunha (ND): Flexible packaging using narrow-web with UV inks?
Grant Blewett (GB): Flexible packaging and UV inks combination has been around for a long time. It’s not a new technology. It has its pros and cons. But it has found a very good home in the narrow-web space. That’s where it dominates. To a certain extent, the UV environment helps drive a very robust environment.
GB: But, it’s less practical and has fewer applications with value, when it is a question of volumes. That’s typically where the world at this point is moving. Our focus is on the wide-web space. It’s fascinating to us because we believe sustainability will play a part in the long-term, and that’s where aqueous will come in. And far more. We believe long-term aqueous inks will be the way forward as brands aim towards greater environmental sustainability. We are seeing a pronounced shift and a lot of investment in the wide-web space. But of course, there are horses for courses. UV will continue to play a robust part in the high-quality, narrow web space. But solvent and aqueous inks will become more prevalent in the wide-web space.
ND: At the show, we saw one label converter invest in a flexo press and the other in a digital press, and in both cases, the focus areas are shrink sleeves and stand-up pouches. What do you think is the right technology?
GB: It’s a million-dollar question. This has been a topic of discussion for 20 years, and it’s going to be a topic for the next 20 years. I genuinely believe that it will co-exist. I think those two technologies will coexist on a personal and professional basis; there will be jobs that will be much more suited to the digital space. And when the brands start conceptualising the value of the variable components, that’s really when digital will come into its own.
ND: Please continue.
GB: While producing multiples of the same, the volumes will decide the breaking point. So, for less profitable, short-run work in an analogue context, digital is a really good and robust solution. Digital has become good today, and one can successfully split production between digital and analogue.