First EcoLeaf install for ABG and Actega

Jo Francis
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

AB Graphic International and Actega Metal Print have teamed up on a fresh implementation of Actega’s EcoLeaf no-foil metallisation system.

EcoLeaf: range of metallic and tactile effects possible
EcoLeaf: range of metallic and tactile effects possible

Actega parent Altana acquired Landa’s nano metallisation technology in February 2017.

ABG has been working with Actega on the new implementation for the past couple of years. The two firms have developed a special ‘integration frame’ for the Digicon.

The first installation on an existing ABG Digicon line at beta site VollherbstDruck in south-west Germany has just begun.

“We believe the technology has the potential to save our customers money and also offer a reduced environmental footprint compared to conventional foiling. It’s something we’re really excited about,” said ABG global sales director Matt Burton.

“We see it as complementary to conventional foiling rather than a direct replacement.”

The EcoLeaf unit can be installed at any printing unit, or as an offline unit.

Actega head of sales and marketing Dario Urbinati described conventional metallic effects as “one of the most important embellishments” in adding value to products such as labels, but were also costly and time-consuming, producing “tonnes of waste that is rarely recycled”.

“We have a vision of a zero waste method and a new category of metallisation for graphic arts labels and packaging,” he added.

Under Landa the nano metallisation system used an inkjet trigger image, with nano-scale flakes of silver metallic material then deposited onto the image to create the ‘foil’ effect.

As part of the commercialisation of the system under Actega, the trigger image can now be produced using flexo or screen printing, with inkjet – and therefore variable images – to follow in future.

The trigger image is UV-cured prior to the application of the metal flakes.

“We made the decision to use flexo or screen stations because it’s a faster way forward as most of our customers have that already,” Urbinati explained.

A range of metallic effects and colours can be achieved by overprinting and varnishing the metallised area. The EcoLeaf trigger image can also be applied on top of a printed area.

“To make gold you need to know some special tricks and we will teach those tricks to our beta customers and partners,” Urbinati added.

Tactile effects can also be created without the need for embossing.

Urbinati said that Actega had carried out detailed analysis that showed a CO2 reduction of more than 50% compared to conventional foiling, and a cost saving potential of 20-50% based on the total cost of ownership.

“It depends on volumes and whether people are running hot or cold foil. We invite customers to talk to us so we can run a TCO based on their numbers,” he stated.

The firm has tested more than 30 substrates with more to follow.

Matthias Vollherbst, managing owner of family-owned Vollherbst Druck, said that a big sustainability drive from the firm’s customers made EcoLeaf “a very promising investment” and the firm hoped to gain early mover advantage.

“We have shown samples to selected clients and the feedback is extremely positive,” he said.

Beta testing is expected to conclude by the end of this year/early next year, with commercial shipments to begin in Q1 2021.

Actega also expects to make the necessary technical adjustments to meet food safe regulations next year.

The first EcoLeaf units have been developed for narrow web applications, but the manufacturer expects to develop units for sheetfed printing and larger web presses in the future.  

The price of an EcoLeaf system is based on a number of factors, but was described as generally sitting in between that of a cold foil or a hot foil station.

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