Taking control of the production process in flexible packaging  

The key to success in flexible packaging production hinges on maintaining full control over each element in the process. End-to-end process control and high levels of automation throughout the entire value chain ensure consistent and predictable high-quality print results. BOBST One complete solution is a highly productive and cost-effective way to deliver packaging excellence.  

One of the main objectives of implementing process control measures in flexible packaging production is to ensure excellent, consistent, and repeatable print quality. Variations in quality, whether in the accuracy of colors, ink density, or print registration, can have many unwanted consequences.  

With the aim to deliver a highly cost-effective, productive, and less wasteful workflow, BOBST’s ‘One complete solution’ leverages the company’s expertise in flexible packaging. This holistic approach brings together advanced technologies for each stage: platemounting in prepress with smartGPS, flexo printing on the VISION CI press, quality inspection via a Digital Inspection Table (DIT), solventless lamination on the NOVA SX 550, and connected services via the BOBST Connect portal. The process can be further augmented for higher sustainability by deploying BOBST oneECG (Extended Color Gamut) printing technology. 

Automation in setup and changeovers 

The first element in BOBST One complete solution is press preparation. With the smartGPS Graphic Positioning System, BOBST has shifted registration and impression setting procedures to the platemounting stage. This frees up significant amounts of active press time and allows operators to prepare the next job while the first one is still being printed.  

The innovative concept employs an AV Flexologic SAMM 2.0 platemounter with robotic positioning, which accurately positions the plate before embedding the setting parameters in an RFID chip in the plate sleeve. When the plate has been mounted, image recognition is used to scan the plate and generate a quality report. As the sleeve is transferred to the press, the parameters are automatically read and used to set up the press quicker and with much less waste.  

Best in class price-performance value 

The printing phase of BOBST One complete solution is executed by the VISION CI flexo press to guarantee optimal print quality across a wide range of substrate types at a highly competitive cost level. Tackling various production lengths at up to 400 m/min, it offers consistent and repeatable print quality with solvent-based and water-based ink in 8 to 10 colors.  

To maximize efficiencies further, it can be set up to run oneECG (Extended Color Gamut), a standardized method of printing that uses a fixed set of colors – usually CMYK plus optionally OGV – to cover up to 95% of the Pantone book. In terms of uptime, ink consumption, and waste, BOBSTB oneECG is the most efficient process in flexible packaging production, only possible when mastering full process control. 

The VISION CI is also simple to operate and has been designed with a number of time and waste saving features, such as a smartVIEW transparent window on the catwalk giving operators excellent visibility of the web and easy access to the CI drum. A touch panel by the window offers quick and efficient control of each print deck settings, while smartCLEAN operation ensures that cleaning and washup of the print decks is performed efficiently. 

Protecting the product  

The next stage in the workflow is lamination which adds mechanical and barrier properties to the material to protect the product. This is handled by the BOBST NOVA SX 550 solventless laminator, a highly modular, automated, and compact machine for cost-effective production. One of the main advantages that make this 450 m/min laminator suitable for both shorter and longer runs is the toolless job changeovers, which can be completed in minutes, meaning unproductive downtime can be kept to a minimum.   

The NOVA SX 550 features pneumatic opening of the metering roller for quick and easy adhesive disposal, and automatic filling of the coating unit with heated pipes. It has an automatic reel centering system with rechargeable parameters for fast job repeats, helping to reduce waste and shorten start-up time. As standard, it comes with an easy-to-use and fully integrated automatic washing system, while a 3-roller laminating nip ensures superior optical quality of the coated adhesive. 

Taking flexible packaging to a higher level  

Offering digital connectivity and automatic reporting for production transparency, the Digital Inspection Table (DIT) Flexpack introduces a new level of precision and efficiency to proofing and quality control, significantly minimizing waste while bolstering customer confidence. It works by projecting the design onto a print sample allowing the operator to compare them and identify print errors early in the process. Stretch or shrink projection is included for checking tolerances and validating repeat length, helping to avoid unnecessary recalls and re-runs.  

Finally, the overarching mechanism is BOBST Connect, a user-centric online portal that offers live progress reports and remote assistance, gathers accurate performance data and automatically calculates OEE, handles shift management, and more. BOBST Connect allows converters to take full control of their production and use in-depth workflow analysis to optimize all processes for maximum quality, productivity, and sustainability. Offering advanced connectivity, the platform is constantly being expanded and also works as the link between the production equipment and third-party software.