Premiaflex Plastics finds its packaging mojo in flexo with DuPont’s Cyrel Fast

Two years ago, Bangladesh’s top packaging company introduced a thermal platemaking technology that combines quality with speed and cuts product cost while minimising environmental footprint. The result is increased efficiency, productivity and growth

16 Oct 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

Anisur Rahman

Premiaflex Plastics is located in Dhaka’s Gazipur district in Bangladesh. Incorporated in 2008 by Advanced Chemical Industries (ACI), a conglomerate in Bangladesh, to tap into the huge packaging market potential, Premiaflex now boasts a 550+ strong workforce led by its business director Anisur Rahman. Premiaflex prides itself in “bringing the first CI flexo press in Bangladesh”, and becoming one of the top packaging companies in the country. Within a decade of its establishment, Premiaflex set up five printing lines for rotogravure printing.

Premiaflex specialses in flexible packaging, supplying printed flexible packaging material using the rotogravure lines and a fully automated flexo CI printing technologies for various forms of laminates with foil, film and paper.

Rahman, who has worked in the flexible packaging industry since 1993 before joining Premiaflex in 2007, says, in 2008 the packaging industry in Bangladesh was still in its nascent stage. “There was much scope for innovation and development." Rahman was responsible for setting up and growing the Premialex business. "We invested heavily in machinery and manpower, staying in sync with the latest in technological advancement in the field.” 

Bringing in competitive edge For Premiaflex, innovation has been one of its core values. It allowed the company to produce several unique products, says Rahman. Back in the days, rotogravure allowed speed and quality to compete in the packaging market. However, packaging is developing and changing rapidly. More impressions,which was once the USP of packaging markets is fast changing - more but shorter SKUs and faster responses. 

In 2018, Premiaflex introduced the Comexi F2 MB press CI flexo press, allowing the company to accomplish all types of jobs – from simple to the most complex. “Today, not only speed but also 100% productivity is priority. We can supply high quality packaging materials solutions within 24 hours using the CI flexo technology.” The company brought in CI flexo and invested in human resource, pre-press software and flexo plate-making system. Unlike for their gravure presses where they outsourced cylinders, for flexo, Premiaflex decided to go with in-house platemaking.

The company chose DuPont as their partner for flexo pre-press and plate-making requirement. “We trusted DuPont’s domain expertise in flexo to expand our operations and address the growing packaging needs in the local market as well as the export sector,” says Rahman. Premiaflex installed the DuPont Cyrel Fast thermal workflow including Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI), Cyrel Fast Easy plates and Kongsberg cutting table to eliminate the use of solvents and significantly reduce lead time in processing to achieve consistent, high quality, precise print results with lower environmental footprint and improved press performance.

Anisur and leadership team​

The Covid Era
The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak has forced governments to announce use of Covid-secure products such as hand sanitiser and liquid hand wash. Covid also forced lockdowns leading to challenges for the FMCG brands in Bangladesh. It had to urgently produce new hygiene products and designs in less than 24 hours. Subsequent unlocking, too, required use of these secure products, which could allow the workforce to return to work. It meant surge in demand. Premiaflex had a mix of both rotogravure and CI flexo to handle the requirements, but the advantages that CI flexo technology offered – production speed, diverse applications and overall cost advantage, particularly the plate costs, made it the perfect choice. “CI flexo printing technology provides the packaging industry with ability to respond to requirements for low minimum order requirement (MOQ), shorter lead time and consistent high quality print results. Our change over time in flexo is one third the time of gravure,” says Rahman.

The other advantage of using the CI flexo technology was the lead time to produce plates. On average, it takes much longer to produce a cylinder for rotogravure printing, while flexo plates can be produced in a jiffy with Cyrel Fast thermal processor. The DuPont solution Premiaflex use DuPont’s Cyrel Fast thermal system to have printing plates ready within two hours of finalisation of design and deliver the first batch of production within 24 hours. In contrast, the traditional gravure printing technology requires seven to 10 days to deliver the cylinder and the first batch of production can take up to 12-15 days. Flexo printing also allows quick change over between designs, enabling more design runs per day, enabling Premiaflex control over its production.

Premiaflex team

During the Covid-19 lockdown, the surge for printing requirements of new designs came from leading brands such as Unilever, Marico, Dabur, Emami and Cavin Kare among others. “Development cost and time for new design is low with flexo and Cyrel Fast thermal workflow,” says Rahman. He explains, “The fact that Premiaflex works with some of the world’s most desirable brands in Bangladesh is a fortunate position to be in when it comes to supplying new products. The unique capabilities of flexo and DuPont’s Cyrel Fast technology have given an unparalleled, competitive edge to our customers.”

“Environmental concerns are growing, and so are the regulations to reduce the amount of VOC emissions. DuPont’s proprietary Cyrel Fast thermal technology also enables a more environmentally sustainable platemaking process with the smallest environmental footprint. With flexography, we are able to meet regulatory norms much more easily than gravure. DuPont’s support in helping us move gravure jobs into flexo by addressing challenges both in design and printing has ensured smooth transition and production”, says Rahman.

The result
Premiaflex’s experience of the last two years has shown that flexo printing fulfils printing requirements of FMCG brands. “We achieve production speeds of up to 400m/min, which is two times higher than traditional gravure printing. Our CI flexo press is also equipped with a UV station for special applications, which makes our offering unique for flexible packaging buyers.”

Premiaflex’s flexible packaging products​

The consistent printing, high productivity and ability to do high value printing jobs has contributed significantly to increase profitability for Premiaflex. The company has achieved 15% market share. They have grown from 700 metric tonnes to 11,000 metric tonnes per annum. “It has made Premiaflex a partner of choice with consumer goods brands in Bangladesh,” says Rahman.

Presently, the company has a production capacity of over 1,000 tonnes per month, over 350 active customers of which 21 are MNC customers. While rotogravure will remain in Premiaflex’s scheme of things, looking ahead Rahman says his company will keep investing in flexo, given their experience and market trends. “Premiaflex will continue to work with key partner suppliers like DuPont to realise the future potential in flexible packaging,” concludes Rahman