CS Labels has officially launched digitally printed flexible pouches after working closely with long-term partner Xeikon to develop a solution that opens up the application for shorter runs that were previously unviable using traditional analogue technology.
Unveiled at the Xeikon Café event in Antwerp, Belgium, at the end of March, the new packaging offering from Wolverhampton-based CS Labels comprises a 23-micron PET film that is printed onto directly using a Xeikon CX500 dry toner label press, and is then laminated onto 70-micron white PE.
The line will be aimed at SME clients looking to take a variety of predominantly food-related products to market. While BRC-accredited CS Labels will eventually offer out the product as a trade service. It will also be promoted by Xeikon as an approved application for the manufacturer’s digital presses.
PrintWeek's reigning SME of the Year, CS Labels has a dedicated website to promote the possibilities of short-run flexible pouches, flexiblepouches.co.uk.
“We have been operating with tech that could support this application since 2007,” said CS Labels managing director Simon Smith. “Over the past 12 months, Xeikon has made it easier for us to develop a solution by working closely to test different materials.
“Testing will continue on things like migration tests and standards for lamination and conversion processes, but we are glad to be at a point where we can turn this over to our client base.
“Possibilities going forward could include printing designs onto thinner films and the intention is to build up the offering to a viable scale. Having demonstrated these possibilities, we are already enjoying a lot of enquiries that will take it forward.”
The CX500 printer used by CS Labels to print onto the PE laminate has run on the firm’s site under beta test since July last year and was officially purchased in December. It can print the film at speeds up to around 30m/min, according to Smith.
Once the film is printed, specialised lamination and conversion lines are used to transfer the designs onto the finished PET pouches. Pouches will be available in a variety of sizes up to 242mm tall.
While Xeikon will be advising on the application for other print firms interested in the process, the lamination and conversion processes remain exclusive to CS Labels and so the manufacturer will not offer guidance on the latest stages of the process.
CS Labels currently employs 57 members of staff on a turnover last counted at £5.5m that is expected to be “pushing £6m” this year, according to Smith.