The manufacturing of sustainable flexible packaging was effectively demonstrated by BOBST in cooperation with industry partners and brand owners during an Open House in Germany. Putting advanced technologies and integrated workflows with BOBST Connect in sharp focus, the October event presented environmentally-friendly whole solutions that allow converters to prepare for a profitable future in the fast-paced and unpredictable packaging market.
Live demonstration during Open House Bielefeld 2023
Flexible packaging producers are faced with accelerating demands for innovative solutions that meet the needs of brand owners for maximum sustainability and comply with new legislation governing the components of packaging materials. In response, the packaging industry is transitioning towards mono-material solutions that are 100% recyclable and increasingly towards paper- and fiber-based applications that fully remove plastics from the equation. The environmental impact of the production process itself is also under ever closer scrutiny, with converters required to reduce material waste, minimize operator intervention, and lower energy consumption to become more sustainable.
Connecting for the future of flexible packaging
BOBST continues to work in close partnership with other industry suppliers to offer sustainable products and materials that meet, and even anticipate, changing customer and regulatory demands. Opening the doors to its Training Center and Competence Center in Bielefeld on 26 October 2023, the company hosted key industry suppliers and brand owners, who joined a program of innovation in CI flexo printing, advanced materials and water-based inks, and fully connected workflows.
“It is important to acknowledge that BOBST’s sustainability goals in flexible packaging cannot be achieved in isolation. Close collaborations with companies that specialize in specific areas of the process, such as inks and coatings, substrate composition, and tapes, are essential for driving innovation in our industry,” commented Marco Carrara, Technology Sales Director, CI Flexo. “Our Competence Center at Bielefeld remains the perfect venue to present the latest results of collaborations on sustainability, including the oneBARRIER FiberCycle solution, and to showcase the future of packaging production with BOBST One complete solution and BOBST Connect.”
Partners in this endeavor included platemounting specialist AV Flexologic, whose Technical Sales Manager, Ash Clark, explained the concept of precision mounting with the BOBST smartGPS system, which feeds into BOBST Connect. Also participating were leading manufacturer of flexo plates and platemaking equipment, Miraclon, advanced tapes and cushioning foam provider, tesa, and water-based ink expert manufacturer, Follmann.
Multinational brand owners Reckitt and Unilever joined the partners in sharing their expertise, know-how, and vision with the attendees. A significant part of the program revolved around discussions on the varied market trends that are driving packaging developments today, providing insights from both suppliers and brand owners.
Gianluca Balzamo, who holds the position of R&D Sr. Research Scientist in Packaging Sustainability Polymer Science – Hygiene at Reckitt, spoke about the company’s sustainable roadmap for flexibles. Reckitt, a global company operating in 60 countries across 6 continents with 9 centers of excellence and over 20 million products sold every day, owns a multitude of the world’s most trusted brands.
Mr. Balzamo outlined Reckitt’s “relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world while protecting, healing, and nurturing what we have presently.” He explained how the company works to amplify available technical resources and engage in circular economy activities. This includes innovation with partners and vendors leading to technological breakthroughs that help lower the environmental footprint of flexible packaging.
In the final part of the day, the attendees transitioned to the production hall at the Competence Center where several printing jobs were demonstrated live on press, bringing the theory of sustainable flexible packaging to life.
Innovation hub and One complete solution
The Bielefeld Training and Competence Center houses a team of experts in machine technology and equipment, offering a versatile environment for a range of activities, including on-site deep dive sessions, flexible R&D capabilities for customer-specific jobs, and the ability to show complete workflows under BOBST Connect, such as BOBST One complete solution for flexible packaging.
Within BOBST’s end-to-end integrated workflows, every element in the production chain – from application management and pre-press set-up to printing, laminating, and quality control – is seamlessly linked through the BOBST Connect digital platform, which was the topic of a dedicated session. Capturing data insights for better business planning, BOBST Connect streamlines and improves the whole production process with in-depth performance analysis and reporting, continuous progress tracking during production runs, 24/7 remote assistance, and even optimized shift management.
Designed for the future of packaging production, BOBST One complete solution, which harnesses the company’s wealth of expertise in flexible packaging applications, was presented by Rainer Rosenbusch, Product Manager, VISION CI. He explained how sustainable paper-based applications can be efficiently produced in this modular combination of technologies, auxiliaries and connectivity in a complete workflow linked via BOBST Connect. At the heart of this agile solution stands the BOBST VISION CI flexo press, which offers rapid setup and changeovers while minimizing waste, resulting in exceptional price-performance value.
High-barrier mono-materials ready for recycling
With demands for recyclability on the rise, attention is very much focused on printing substrates and their functionality. Innovation in mono-materials offers a clear path to improving the environmental impact of flexible packaging and meeting customers’ requirements for better solutions. In this respect, BOBST has introduced the oneBARRIER family of integrated solutions for recycle-ready, high-barrier packaging. Xavier Bonamour, Application Manager for Flexible Packaging at BOBST, presented oneBARRIER FibreCycle, which has been developed together with Michelman and UPM. He was joined in the discussion by Mika Uusikartano, Senior Manager, Product Portfolio Management at UPM Specialty Papers, and Thierry Van Migem, Business Director Printing and Packaging, Coatings and Industrial Manufacturing at Michelman.
As a full paper, recycle-ready solution, oneBARRIER FiberCycle enables brand owners to move from plastic films to paper-based flexible packaging. Compatible with paper recycling streams, it is a high-barrier mono-material produced by utilizing the capabilities of the new oneBARRIER MASTER Coater and the well-established EXPERT K5 dry vacuum coater to achieve a high-performance solution. The suitability of this sustainable material was shown in action at the Competence Center when it was being printed on the BOBST VISION CI flexo press fitted with oneECG (Extended Color Gamut) technology and using water-based inks from Follmann GmbH & Co. KG.
Machine upgrades and retrofits for more sustainability
Extending the lifespan of machines or expanding their capabilities are other important ways to increase the sustainability of a company. Keeping older machines operating at peak efficiency not only minimizes the environmental footprint by sidestepping the production of new equipment but also delivers substantial cost savings to customers. The availability of upgrades and enhancements, meanwhile, is crucial for converters in allowing them to maximize efficiencies, stay competitive, and meet new market demands.
BOBST offers a comprehensive program of retrofits and upgrades, and the future vision behind this was explained by M. Karakatsanis, Business Director Preprint. To boost opportunities for customers, BOBST is actively working toward an even higher Retrofit & Upgrade performance level. The company is continually adding to the workforce in all key areas, including engineering, project management, and sales, in order to increase availability and proximity to customers.