"There is an increasing need for differentiation with hot foil across all sectors," says Peter Frei of Pantec GS Systems

In this interaction with PrintWeek India during the Labelexpo Europe 2015, Peter Frei of Pantec, discusses his company's growing business sectors, packaging as well as labels

30 Sep 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

PrintWeek India (PWI): How has the previous two years, since the last Labelexpo Europe 2013 been for your company? And how was your growth?
Peter Frei (PF): Pantec has been growing in all business sectors, packaging as well as labels. For hot foil embossing in wine and spirit labels all major firms, but also small specialised niche players enforced their market power by investing into patented Rhino, Pantec’s in-line flatbed hot foil embossing system. In the tube foil saving and security sector Pantec launched the foil saving and hologram system Swift, a patent.
The higher quality of hot foil combined with foil saving and efficient differentiation abilities through holographic foils or patches makes Swift become an important tool for leaders to strengthen their position. In packaging,Pantec’s foil saving and hologram stamping system Cheetah (patent) has been sold for mass hologram placement on tobacco prestige brands, not only in China. Now on packages of the Parliament cigarettes holograms are applied and overprinted achieving highly attractive effects. Pantec GS Systems Cheetah applies the holograms inline in rotogravure presses.
PWI: How does label printing sector looked like in 2015? What are you hearing from your customers, who have invested in your equipment in the last two years?
PF: We see an increasing need for differentiation with hot foil, especially for prestigious brands, in all sectors. Additionally, to keep a strong position, increasing the efficiency in the production processes is vital.
PWI: What is your star product at the Labelexpo Europe 2015? Can you explain what’s new and how will it benefit the customers?
PF: Pantec’s Rhino II is the widely known industry star in inline flat bed embossing. It is now shown with new functions that serve security industries and traditional wine and spirit markets for differentiation. With Rhino II Pantec customers can now apply registered holograms, emboss reliefs and make use of higher foil saving flexibility inline on narrow web with 410 and 510 mm width.
However, Pantec’s Swift rotary mass placement for registered holograms and foil saving for cosmetic and food has been seen to gain starring potential. Most people are still not aware that it’s possible to apply holograms inline and see foil savings up to 120 m/min. Swift may become the star of the future.
PWI: In terms of functionality, has the role of labels enhanced or it still is a piece of decoration?
PF: In our fields, it is more and more a recognised as a sales driver with new decorative effects.
PWI: New guidelines for product security and ingredients disclosures are being introduced on a regular basis. Do you see labels donning a bigger role here?
PF: We definitely see a higher demand for security applications, for example, patch placement.
PWI: There are new substrates, linerless to name one, plus processes. Which are the ones that are especially challenging when finishing labels printed on these substrates and what should the labellers do to address these challenges?
PF: In the segment of inline hot foil embossing, all kind of materials, with or without liner (except temperatures sensitive stock like shrink sleeves) can be processed, either flatbed or rotary.
PWI: Short-run work and just-in-time delivery are fast becoming the norm. And to remain a competitive supplier and meet these changing demands, what should the Indian label printers do to improve their production methods? How does your kit help in this?
PF: Shortlead time needs efficient processes. 95% percent of Pantec  customers choose in-line integration into a press to reduce the lead time, reduce the number of productions steps, staff, surface and most importantly, to reduce waste. The risk of multi-step processing is high towards the end of the steps. In-line is much less risky, as the final product can be checked before the run starts. Pantec GS Systems designs its products to run inline at the speed, the width and the quality of high-end presses. This not only on narrow web, but also inline in 850 mm wide rotogravure presses.
PWI: How can your finishing kit help label printers become more cost-effective to meet today’s fast-evolving production requirements and deliver a greater commercial advantage. Can you give an example?
PF: Going in-line with foil embossing and patch stamping allows fast delivery, with little staff, as all is done in a single pass. With its inline performance Pantec Rhino has changed the world of high end wine labels. All big players in wine and Vodka today rely on in-line Rhino.
PWI: New technologies in pre-press and press, substrate and inks, are enhancing the functionality of labels. In future, what improvements can we expect from finishing equipments?
PF: For some applications inks can replace foils. However, the general trend for differentiation and to stand out on the shelf rather leads to the effect seen in wine labels. Uncompromised, highly brilliant, shaped 3D effects are an attraction which is hard to emulate with inks. Inks run in a separate category of attraction, where Pantec is not active.
PWI: What has help hot foiling inline grow into a feasible option for the label printers? What was the turning point?
PF: The turning point for flatbed foil embossing with Rhino in wine labels was the fact that Pantec in-line integration technology does not interfere with the press and interfacing is feasible without big risk. Moreover, people thought that flatbed is slow “by definition”. But then they saw that the Rhino flatbed can do 120 m/min. In the beginning, it was proven by demonstrations, followed by first installations and finally people recognised that modern well designed servo technology can offer solutions for things that were thought being impossible before.
PWI: For rotary foil saving and patch placement, there have been several attempts made?
PF: Yes. People said: “We have seen three manufacturers before you whose products were not able to be fast enough for production and quick and flexible enough for change”. The turning point there was the need for innovation and efficiency in Chinese tobacco production. In this application the Pantec massless vacuum foil saving technology has proven to be much faster and still much more precise than conventional mechanical foil savers. Once technical guys of big narrow web firms saw and understood the Pantec technology principles, they immediately got interested and launched a pilot project.
PWI: What are the further chances of its growth?
PF: Chances for growth result from the fact that the technology is still not well known, except in China, due to our big success in tobacco. In China, tobacco everybody knows Pantec Cheetah meanwhile. Global prestige brand leaders have started to see the opportunities and they move step by step into inline high-end patch decoration, rotary on their existing presses.
PWI: Cold foiling inline has also continued to be popular. What do you estimate is the market for cold vs hot foil in the foil decorating segment?
PF: I estimate that with price pressure and higher volumes people will see a growth of hot foil in certain sectors again. The fact that UV cured cold foil cannot be saved and patch application cannot be efficient. It is given of the fold foil technology. The foil cannot be saved. Economical reasons and the higher quality of edges and the brilliance of hot foil will divide the market: short run, low quality goes cold foil - high volume, high quality goes hot foil in-line with saving. As we see already with highly POS effective prestigious patches. These patches gain attraction on the shelf and additionally they offer difficulties for counterfeitingat no additional cost.
PWI: What label applications are more suited for hot foil, and which applications are more suited for cold foil? From an end-users perspective, what are the factors that needs to be considered?
PF: As mentioned above, short run, low quality goes cold foil - high volume, high quality goes hot foil in-line. The important factor is how the focused marketsof the individual label printer are developing, toward low or high quality, toward more or less differentiation with visual effects. These are the aspects which should drive the investment decision.
PWI: What should be kept in mind when foiling/embossing difficult substrates, such as plastic sheets, shiny UV coated sheets, etc?
PF: When stepping on new ground my advice is to test first which process technology is more applicable- find out if flatbed or rotary copes better with the specific difficulties of the required material.
PWI: What do you see changing and growing in the label decorating/ finishing marketplace?
PF: Previously complex offline decorations go In-line, single pass. The previous low volume effects can suddenly serve for high volume markets.