Tea and herbal drink packager Infusion GB is printing directly on to enveloped teabags for the first time after buying four Domino G220i thermal inkjet printers.
The Gloucester-based company, with clients including Pukka Herbs, Tetley and Lipton, installed its fourth machine a fortnight ago. The total investment in the four machines, which operate at 38m/min, was around £20,000.
Infusion GB senior manager Peter Barry said there was demand for best-before dates and batch information on enveloped teabags so they could be sold individually or repackaged for the gift market. According to one client, Japanese customers, for example, were interested in best-before dates on tea sachets.
“My research showed hotel coffee and cocoa sachets had dates on them, but not tea. Individually printed best-before dates on enveloped teabags was an application we wished to offer our customers. It is point of difference for us and we believe we are the only people offering the service.
“This is the first time we have printed onto sachets; we previously just packed the envelopes into cartons and delivered them. We are running at full capacity so it's more a case of offering another service to clients than making huge jumps in turnover.”
Infusion GB, which has 35 staff and a turnover of just under £3m from producing string, tagged and enveloped teabags, required the coding and marking machine to match the speeds of its IMA C27 tea packing machines, which produce 250 bags per minute.
Domino had to calibrate its machines to tie in with the speed of the C27, which feeds reels of sachets. Exact co-ordination was a must to prevent print “wandering”. A fast-drying ink was needed to avoid smudging of information during packing of cartons shortly after printing.
Domino was the only manufacturer able to provide a suitable solution by integrating its G220i printers into the IMA packaging machine, said Barry. The other manufacturers struggled to get the printheads integrated into the IMA machine and ensure the ink dried quickly enough.
“When we change anything on the production line and restart the IMA machine it takes some time to reach full speed again, so the coding and marking solution that we chose had to synchronise with these warm-up speeds. We are now able to offer complete traceability on every envelope,” he said.
To meet anticipated demand the company aims to have best-before dates printed on all of the envelopes it produces by summer 2014.