Low-migration web offset inks open up new directions for printers and food manufacturers
The shift in packaging towards more sustainability is in full swing. As a result, we observe a trend from film to paper packaging, as the latter is convincing with its good recyclability. Our product management team for web offset has dealt with this increasing demand for printed paper packaging and developed two innovative products – MGA FOOD NEWS and MGA EVOLUTION – that benefit all sides. We talked to Thomas Stumpf, Director Web Offset at hubergroup, to find out more.
Thomas, what’s so special about our two new ink series MGA FOOD NEWS and MGA EVOLUTION?
Thomas Stumpf: Until now, low-migration offset inks were only used in sheet-fed printing. Due to the development of a new binder and the careful selection of raw materials as well as production methods, we have succeeded in developing the first low-migration and low-odour web offset inks. With these new coldset and heatset inks, it is possible for the first time to produce food-compliant paper packaging in large quantities using four-colour printing in web offset. Our ink series allow printers to build up another business segment and the food industry to design sustainable paper packaging in a colourful and creative way.
How did the idea of producing web offset inks for the food sector come up?
Thomas Stumpf: On the one hand, paper packaging is becoming more popular, on the other hand, jobs in classic web offset printing are declining. For us, the development of low-migration web offset inks was the logical consequence of these two trends. At the same time, a renowned international brand manufacturer was looking for such an application. This cooperation gave the final push for the development.
How did the development proceed?
Thomas Stumpf: During the development safety and sustainability were our top priorities. We closely cooperated with our colleagues from the sheet-fed offset sector, who have been producing low-migration inks for food packaging for many years. The new binder we developed in this cooperation was the basis for this innovation. In addition to our laboratory work, we also carried out extensive practical tests with well-known brand owners and printers. Furthermore, the close cooperation with the local special paper manufacturer DREWSEN from Lachendorf (near Celle) was very important for the development of both series.
For which applications are the ink series suitable?
Thomas Stumpf: Both series are ideal for the packaging of baked goods, fast food such as burgers or wraps, and products from the deli counter, but also for all other paper packaging in the food sector. They are suitable for a wide range of coated and uncoated papers.
Food manufacturers can make their packaging more colourful, for example, by reproducing their products true-to-life on it. Seasonally or regionally changing designs are also possible even in small quantities, allowing all retailers to become even more creative with their packaging.
What do printers have to consider when using the new ink series?
Thomas Stumpf: Printers can use the new ink series on all common coldset or heatset machines. They must ensure that they comply with all food packaging production rules, such as that all consumables must be food compliant, and all components are stored separately from non-food-compliant products. Our service team will assist printers with the implementation and questions about food-compliant packaging production and can also provide a guideline for this.
What are the first reactions from printers you work with?
Thomas Stumpf: We have carried out several print tests with heatset and coldset printers. The reaction has always been the same: all of them were positively surprised by the high-quality print results that can be achieved on different papers.
Can you already tell us which products will be the first to be printed with the new ink series?
Thomas Stumpf: Which application will be launched first remains to be seen, but our customers are in trials for numerous applications. The market will determine the demand. What remains to be said is that any food products that can be packaged in paper can also be printed in web offset.