MMS roundtable highlights on mono carton in narrow-web flexo

The Mumbai Mudrak Sangh (MMS) hosted the sixth edition of its roundtable conference on 14 April 2023 at MCA Club, BKC, Mumbai. The interactions between eight expert leaders in eight different groups were centred around rethink, redesign and realign. Table seven of the roundtable conference on mono carton in narrow-web flexo.

17 Apr 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha

There are three processes, which are deployed to print mono cartons. These are  offset, narrow-web and digital printing. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but at the roundtable, the point for discussion was: Is narrow-web flexo printing feasible for producing mono cartons?

Two narrow-web flexo players in the group, namely Renault Paper Products and Ajanta Packaging, deploy narrow-web flexo at their production sites; however, both the companies produce labels.

Nitin Shah of Award Offset Printers & Packaging is a mono-carton specialist but uses the offset process to produce its packaging products. “I am keenly watching the flexo space, and that’s the reason I am here.”

Omet’s representative, Kanwardeep Sahni of Weldon Celloplast informed the delegates that Omet is a 60-year-old company and has a presence in 100 countries. “95% of the Omet narrow-web presses are used for label production.” In India, there are very few players who are producing mono-cartons using the narrow-web flexo press. They are Pragati Pack, ITek, Zircon Technologies, and very recently, Any Graphics joined the three.

While the narrow-web flexo process of producing mono cartons is commonly used for typically small-sized boxes made from a single-layer corrugated or paperboard material, the process offers high-speed printing and cost-effective short runs.

The delegates at the roundtable led by Mahendra Shah of Renault, said, the advantages of flexo presses are: all the processes – printing, embellishment, die-cutting can be done in one go. Nitin Shah of Awards who uses offset technology to produce cartons, has explored the flexo technology and taken a few trials, said, “Apart from printing, all other processes need separate equipment, offline. I observed that the quality is consistent, and colour stability is better in flexo. There is negligible print variation.”

Shah of Renault, who is the user of flexo technology said, web-width can be a limitation. “One can go as wide as offset,” he says, adding, “availability of paperboards in roll forms may be an issue, tooling cost is high, which is usually imported.”

Nitin Shah added, “The web-width available is around 800-mm. If all the processes are added the cost can be two-and-a-half times higher than offset. However, if a narrow-web flexo player has high volume, short run jobs, it can be an advantage.”

Vivek Khanna of Ajanta Packaging added that running thick substrates (paperboard or plastic) can be a challenge on flexo presses. “The main constraint is limitation in die-cutting.” Die-cutting in flexo is a rotary process, and if compared with flatbed die-cutting, the latter can produce better quality,” he said.

Nitin Shah added, “For small quantities, the cost of running a job on flexo, will not be viable.”

Iqbal Kherodawala of Printline Reprographics, who is an offset specialist manufacturing mono-cartons bets on the flexo technology to catch on. “The rotary nature of flexo presses allows for continuous printing on roll of material, which can result in high-production speeds and efficiency. It allows for rapid printing of medium to high print volumes in a relatively short time.” If the economies of scale can be realised, Kherodawala said, it can result in lower production cost per unit. “Inline finishing capabilities is a huge plus.”

Nitin Shah added, “The day tooling cost will come down and availability will be very quick and easy, flexo technology will be very popular.”

The roundtable delegates also discussed hybrid flexo presses, where the best of both flexo and digital printing technologies can be combined. “It will become popular,” said Mahendra Shah of Renault. “If one can manage factors such as market demand, technology advancements, cost considerations, and specific application requirements, it’s one to look for.”

Even as PrintWeek/WhatPackaging? prepares this report on Roundtable for Mono carton in narrow-web (flexo), Samir Patkar, president, Heidelberg India informed PrintWeek/WhatPackaging that Ahmedabad-based Letra Graphix, a leading label solutions provider is in the final stages of installation of Gallus Labelfire 340 press. The Gallus Labelfire is a hybrid press based on the end-to-end logical operating concept that integrates digital printing with conventional printing and further processing. Labels are produced inline in a single production operation from the unprinted roll to the matrix-stripped end product.


Industry Expert: Kanwardeep singh Sahani of Weldon Celloplast 

Delegates: Nitin Shah of Award Offset Printers & Packaging; Deepak Wadekar of Indigo Press India; Vivek Khanna of Ajanta Offset; Yash Pahuja of Colors Packaging Solutions India; Deepak Dhote of Shakti Digital Services; Jignesh Gandhi of Gandhi Printers