Harper Adams University has completed its first year-long course in packaging design, styling and innovation for the food sector.
In order to provide the course, the Edgmond, Shropshire-based higher education provider invested in a Mimaki UJF-3042FX UV printer, with the support of a grant from the Worshipful Company of Butchers, last September.
Food science lecturer and practitioner Lucy Catley and her colleagues visited supplier CMYUK’s Crewe showroom to see what sort of equipment was on offer to suit a food packaging-related course and were guided by the reseller to the UJF-3042FX. This machine is able to print on media up to 50mm thick, making it well suited to packaging applications.
It has now completed its first academic year in use, with 12 undergraduate students using the printer to produce card packaging and labels as suggested rebranding materials for pre-existing products in the food sector.
“This Mimaki cost a fortune in terms of our usual budgets but, thanks to the Company of Butchers’ grant, it was absolutely worthwhile,” said Catley. “We have had no prior experience teaching printing techniques, so we have nothing else like it onsite.
“In the food industry, there is a desperate need for packaging technologists and a real shortage of skills. Currently, companies are employing from Europe but that may well become increasingly difficult in the coming months and years.
“Our students have just finished their second year and will be taking placements for a year in industry before returning to finish their degrees.
“Having prior packaging production experience will be a massive help to them procuring these placements and providing skills that the industry is struggling to find.”
Mimaki’s UFJ-3042FX is a desktop UV printer with a print area of 300x420mm. It can print at resolutions up to 1,440x1,200dpi using an on-demand Piezo printhead.
During the installation process, CMYUK was on hand to provide training and guidance for both the staff and students at Harper Adams, with Catley describing the vendor as “brilliant and incredibly helpful”.
Catley said that, though budgets were currently tight for most universities, Harper Adams would continue to develop its packaging programme with possible further investments in the future, in a bid to continue attracting students to its courses.