Narrow web ink specialist Pulse Roll Label Products has launched the next generation of its PureTone UV flexo ink system to provide a food packaging compliant option for the global label printing industry.
In this exclusive Q&A, Labels & Labeling talks to Mikaela Harding, product manager at Pulse Roll Label Products, to find out more about the company’s new food packaging compliant (FPC) range, which includes a selection of other FPC UV flexo inks and FPC UV flexo varnishes, adhesives and additives to complement the new PureTone inks.
Labels & Labeling (L&L): Which inks are included in the FPC range?
Mikaela Harding (MH): The PureTone FPC UV flexo ink system includes high strength process inks, mono-pigmented mixing bases and additional high resistance bases. Other FPC UV flexo inks, which complement the PureTone FPC inks, include a shrink sleeve opaque white, a glassine backing black, a high density black, as well as metallic inks.
L&L: What characteristics do they offer to make them food packaging compliant?
MH: PureTone and PureTone FPC inks are both high in strength to provide optimized color and offer similar product characteristics in terms of good flow, excellent adhesion and laydown, as well as fast cure. It is the raw materials used in the formulation of the inks which differentiates the new FPC products and makes them 'food packaging compliant'. All our FPC products are formulated for low odor.
L&L: Are these inks a result of your own R&D activities and/or driven by customers?
MH: A combination of both. As a company, we focus heavily on R&D and, as part of our drive for continuous improvement, our technical experts are always working on innovations in new product development. At the same time, we are listening to the wants and needs of our customers as well as monitoring and understanding trends in consumer packaged goods markets and the printing packaging sector. This development is a result of us wanting to offer our customers an ink system that provided a total color management solution. PureTone FPC takes flexo printing and ink management into the digital age, and at the same time complies with the latest regulations and guidelines in terms of non-direct food contact materials for packaging and labeling applications. The new PureTone FPC ink system therefore provides an innovative solution to address the many challenges faced by label printers and brand owners in terms of food packaging compliance as well as color management.
L&L: Which guidelines and regulatory requirements for food packaging and labels were used/referenced when developing the new FPC inks?
MH: Pulse Roll Label Products is a fully engaged partner in the food packaging supply chain and is committed to the principles of protecting food consumer safety within the areas under our control. Food packaging compliance is a highly complex topic and lack of harmonized regulation specifically covering the manufacture of food packaging printing inks and varnishes makes it particularly challenging. Pulse Roll Label Products, like many other ink manufacturers, complies with European Commission Regulations, EuPIA Guidelines, the Swiss Ordinance and the Nestlé Guidance Note for Packaging Inks.
In detail, the regulations and guidelines we follow are:
- European Commission Framework Regulation (EC) 1935/2004
- European Commission GMP Regulation (EC) 2023/2006
- European Commission Plastics Regulation (EU) 10/2011
- EuPIA Guideline for Food Packaging Inks, updated July 2012
- EuPIA Suitability List of Photo-initiators for Low Migration UV Printing Inks & Varnishes (3rd corrigendum Feb 2015)
- EuPIA Exclusion Policy for Printing Inks & Related Products, 3rd edition, Nov 2016
- EuPIA GMP Printing Inks for Food Contact Materials 4th version, Mar 2016
- Swiss Ordinance 817.023.21 (updated in May 2011)
- Nestlé Guidance Note for Packaging Inks (version Nov 2016)
It is important to remember however, that our compliance only covers the areas within our control. It is the seller of the final printed product who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that members throughout the packaging chain comply with regulatory requirements and follow recommended guidelines to ensure final compliance. As such, as a packaging ink supplier, we can’t issue certificates or declarations of compliance which cover the responsibility of others in the packaging chain.
L&L: Initially, are there specific non-direct food contact packaging and labeling applications FPC inks will be targeted at?
MH: Our PureTone FPC inks have been developed specifically for narrow web printers supplying UV flexo printed self-adhesive labels, shrink sleeves and packaging for industries where regulations and guidelines for food packaging and labeling applications must be adhered to. This includes not just the food and beverage industry, but also sectors such as household, health and beauty, personal care, pharmaceuticals and tobacco. Therefore, the new PureTone FPC ink system is suitable for and targeted at converters supplying a range of industry sectors that need to comply with food packaging regulations and guidelines.
L&L: Are there plans to develop direct food contact variants?
MH: All the food packaging compliant products that we formulate and manufacture are intended for non-direct food contact packaging and labeling applications. We have no plans at present to develop a direct food contact range of packaging and labeling products.
L&L: How important is it for a company such as Pulse Roll Label Products to have food packaging compliant inks in its portfolio, and to offer such products to 21st Century label and packaging printers and converters, who are producing an ever-wider range of printed products and entering new markets?
MH: As a narrow web specialist, it is very important that we include a food packaging compliant ink system in our portfolio. Pulse Roll Label Products has manufactured what was previously termed as 'low migration products' for many years. However, we were keen to offer printers who need food packaging compliance all the advantages of the successful PureTone ink concept, to help converters move their flexo printing process and ink management into the digital age.
Although specifically formulated for narrow web self-adhesive label applications, our PureTone FPC inks have superior adhesion properties making them suitable for printing on rigid plastics, as well as for shrink sleeve applications. As food packaging comes in many types and structures, our FPC products have been formulated for use on a variety of substrates and for applications from linerless sleeves to flexible packaging. This provides a solution for printers offering an ever-wider range of printed products.
As interest in digital continues and many printers invest in both flexo and digital label printing technology, we have formulated our new FPC UV flexo varnishes to include the resistance properties also required to overprint digital print.
L&L: How do FPC inks fit into the overall PureTone product portfolio strategy to provide ‘a total color management solution and color standardization’?
MH: The new PureTone FPC ink system is a natural evolution of our flagship ink system and comes under the PureTone brand, incorporating all the benefits that PureTone offers: pre-press color control, accuracy, repeatability and color standardization for optimum print quality. All resulting in a more efficient production workflow for the label printer.
The strategy for PureTone FPC was to take this concept and develop a food packaging compliant range of inks fit for an industry that continues to focus heavily on protecting food consumer safety and where there is a growing need to comply with the most stringent of standards. PureTone FPC therefore provides a food packaging compliant and total color management solution for the global narrow web label industry.
L&L: Are the additional products complementing the FPC inks available immediately?
MH: Yes, a selection of FPC UV flexo gloss and matt varnishes, a peel and read varnish, laminating adhesives and additives is now available to complement PureTone FPC and our other FPC UV flexo inks. Plans are underway to extend this range further to include additional products over the coming months.
L&L: What has the initial reaction and feedback been to these products?
MH: Extensive beta testing has taken place at multiple UK and international label printing sites and the reaction and feedback has been extremely positive. Many of our customers, particularly those in markets where there is a growing demand and need for food packaging compliant products, have been eagerly awaiting the food packaging compliant version of PureTone.
Refresh your memory with the news of the introduction of the PureTone ink series before reading the PureTone FPC launch news