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  • 04 Jun 2018

ePac invests in GM-ebeam combination for flexible packaging converting

US converter ePac Flexible Packaging is to install an ebeam Core 100/760 electron beam (EB) curing unit mounted on an EB30 coating line from Grafisk Maskinfabrik (GM), enabling faster production speeds and time to market with high-performance finishes on flexible packaging.

With the ebeam Core 100/760, the GM EB30 will enable ePac to achieve instantaneous curing and a high-performance finish with overprint varnishes (OPVs) onto surface web printed materials from an HP Indigo 20000 digital press.

Instantaneous EB curing of OPVs means that lamination, with its lengthy drying times to ensure bonding, can be eliminated from the finishing stage. With EB curing, ePac will be able to send fully-cured, OPV coated material directly onto the next stage of production, cutting finishing times to hours instead of days. In addition to improving turnaround time, EB curing produces a high-performance finish with an outstanding look and feel. High gloss, matte and soft touch finishes that are scratch, tear, puncture and fade resistant, increase package and label durability and abrasion resistance. Protection of printed graphics is improved, providing increased heat resistance to reduce damage during heat sealing or when adding zippers.

Jack Knott, CEO at ePac Flexible Packaging, commented: ‘One of our key differentiators is our industry leading time to market. The addition of EB curing fits well into our business model and will enable us to create enhanced and high-performance finishes for our packaging. ePac is built on the premise that emerging innovative technologies, when properly deployed, will cause disruption within the flexible packaging market. We were the first flexible packaging business in North America to rely exclusively on the latest wide web digital printing technology from HP – the Indigo 20000. We’re excited by the possibilities offered by ebeam Technologies, and look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership over the coming years.’

The new system will also enable ePac to realize additional market opportunities by opening up a route to indirect food contact packaging. Traditional personalized printing processes have been unable to expand into this market due to concerns around the use of photoinitiators in traditional packaging inks to facilitate curing. With EB-curable OPVs from GM, there are no photoinitiators, thereby providing an FDA approved option for personalized indirect food contact packaging applications. Also important is the low energy nature of EB curing, which combined with a lack of chemicals such as photoinitiators, increases sustainability whilst lowering production costs.

Set for installation in the third quarter at ePac’s Madison, Wisconsin facility, the installation will also serve as a test center for printers wishing to explore ebeam Technologies’ capabilities.

Karl Swanson, vice president of global sales at ebeam Technologies, said: ‘The ebeam Core 100/760 and GM EB30 provide a game-changing solution for flexible packaging finishers and converters, so we are delighted that ePac will be trailblazing its use in the US. Printers interested in the production and business benefits of EB are invited to visit the ebeam Core 100/760 and GM EB30 at ePac Madison, where our expert team will help them use the finishing line to test different substrates and materials.’

Earlier this year, ePac purchased 10 additional HP Indigo 20000 digital presses to expand operations across the US through mid-2019. The new order quadruples production capacity for ePac and is the largest packaging deal for HP to date.

Read more about digital-only flexible packaging manufacturer ePac’s aggressive expansion plans, starting with a historic capital investment program, in L&L issue 2, 2018, and here

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