Omet – Interview with Marco Calcagni why launching a mid-web line
ITALY • In March 2017 the Italian supplier of printing press and converting machinery organised an open house event in Lecco, Italy, to launch its new mid-web offset press Varyflex V4. Titled “Your passport to packaging” Omet’s event held next to Lake Como demonstrated a new line which is suitable for label printers and converters and flexible packaging companies and will allow them to achieve more flexibility in their product range.
The new Varyflex V4 Offset press features 33”1/2-wide (850 mm) offset stations with patented sleeve technology, combined with new fully automatic flexo units which are able to reach a maximum mechanical speed of 400 m/min (1312 fpm). Due to the integration of an electron beam curing system and low migration inks, the offset line is suitable for food packaging printing.
The offset units feature sleeve technology, which allows a repeat to be changed in a few minutes, thanks to the Easy Sleeve Format Change and the automatic pressure adjustment system. The Varyflex V4 Offset has been designed to print either with “wet-on-dry” configuration, mounting UV lamps in-between the printing stations, or “wet-on-wet” with UV drying or electron beam (EB) curing at the end of the line.
Mid-web instead of narrow web?
Mid-web printing presses are being introduced by more and more companies creating an important question: how relevant will this trend be for the label industry during the next few years? It will be interesting to observe which companies will invest and which line they will choose.
In 2016, Omet opened its new production plant in Molteno, close to Lecco. Now, the facility with about 3000 sqm is already working at full speed. The company produces the XFlex and iFlex label printing presses in Molteno. Whereas the production of Varyflex presses still takes place in Lecco.
Marco Calcagni, sales manager at Omet, talks to NarrowWebTech about the recently unveiled line, the reasons for this launch and about the current market trends and its consequences for label printers and converters. Visiting the new facility in Molteno was part of the visit in addition to the interview with Omet.
1) Why did Omet, as a narrow web printing press supplier, launch a mid-web printing press?
Marco Calcagni: The flexible packaging market has continued to grow recently, in particular we’ve noticed a strong increase in demand for hybrid-printed products, which require both high quality performances, provided by Offset technology, and high density printing, a standard characteristic of flexo. Both of these crucial requirements can be fully satisfied through Omet flexo-offset hybrid technology.
2) Which inks, in your opinion, are being increasingly used?
Marco Cacagni: Another tendency is to use solvents less and less, for health reasons, and we are able to satisfy this important necessity by using food compliant offset UV inks and EB curing systems. We see high potential in our new Varyflex V2 Offset especially for potential customers still using rotogravure technology, which normally requires high amounts of solvent inks and is not able to satisfy short run requirements due to the high-cost equipment. Offset printing technology guarantees high quality through efficiency and low equipment costs.
3) So you believe that your recently launched press is competitive?
Marco Calcagni: There is no doubt that the Varyflex V2 Offset can compete in this market, because runs have been getting shorter and the costs of Rotogravure and CI flexo’s equipment are much higher, not to mention their limitations in terms of process and configuration flexibility. In fact, a CI flexo press can achieve 8-10 colours max., whereas the need for job diversification requires more than 10 colours. There are definitely a few very interesting market niches ready to provide big opportunities for this new press.
4) If and how do you see the overlaps between label and package printing? Does the newly launched line suit both these applications?
Marco Calcagni: This press can target various sectors, in particular flexible packaging, be it for food or other applications, and all those IML labels which today are still printed on sheet fed offset presses. Moreover offset would be convenient for short runs, thanks to the lower cost of the printing plates compared to flexo polymer and the rotogravure cylinder. There will be, of course, flexible packaging converters aiming at widening their market range, as well as potential label printers moving towards this technology. Also sheet fed printers who have generally a lot of experience in offset printing want to enter the packaging market.
5) What about label printing presses? Are companies investing?
Marco Calcagni: In the last few years we have received a lot of enquiries for narrow web printing press which could be competitive both for label and package printing products. This is one of the reasons for the great success of our XFlex X6, which can work at the top end quality level on each type of material with quick job change overs.
6) In 2016 Omet opened a new facility in Molteno near its headquarters in Lecco, Italy. What is the status of the new production plant?
Marco Calcagni: We are very happy about the new production facility in Molteno, which allows OMET to face the growing demands for printing press installations. We have kept the production of customized special Varyflex machines, which require intensive testing, in Lecco and moved the production of XFlex and iFlex label machines to Molteno which need faster deliveries.