Pharmaceutical packaging printing: heat transfer printing challenges flexographic printing (Part 2)
the combined use of the two printing methods is not effective for all companies. Mr. tomroberts of Medtronic said that he wanted a programmable heat transfer machine, such as the one from bell mark, in order to get rid of the ink and printing plate necessary for the flexographic machine. Mr. Roberts said that when the cross-section size is greater than 35mm, "the ink and the printing plate are troublesome. Even if you don't change the text content, you need to change the printing plate frequently, because the printing plate has wear problems. In addition, when you use two different printing systems, you need to train different technicians to correctly repair and maintain the printing machine"
flexographic printing has killed back the market. Although there have been some criticisms of flexographic printing, the flexographic printing system still has its advantages. Mr. Pugh of bell Mark said that flexographic printing helped their company solve the inventory problem of pre printed packaging materials. It is the most economical way to install the cylinder flexographic printing unit online on the filling and packaging machine. This method is most suitable for applications where the information content changes infrequently, theft directly becomes robbery. Moreover, flexographic printing technology is also constantly improving. As far as printing plates are concerned, they were made by rubber stamping or laser engraving in the past, but now they are all photosensitive polymers. For example, the flexible printing plate made by DuPont Cyrel can match the computer direct plate making technology (CTP) well, and its low hardness is very suitable for printing Tyvek materials, because Tyvek is not like other materials, so the printing plate can match the printing medium well. At the same time, in order to meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for reducing the use of volatile organic compounds, in some printing fields, especially the users of flexographic printing machines, have begun to shift from the use of solvent based inks to the use of water-based inks. However, the material manufacturer must produce a special formula of water-based ink, so that it can adhere to the substrate of drug packaging, and ensure that it can withstand the packaging disinfection and transportation processMr. Marotta of tolas said that only after knowing exactly how the packaging is disinfected, it is possible to produce an ink with stable performance. For example, it must be able to withstand steam disinfection, but it is doubtful whether there is such a universal ink that can withstand any disinfection method. Generally speaking, ink can be multifunctional, but no ink can meet various needs
another challenger appears in the pharmaceutical packaging and printing market. There is another method that may become a bigger competitor of flexo printing. A research report of Sri international pointed out that pharmaceutical companies should pay close attention to the progress of inkjet printing technology in variable data printing. Ericschrader, the project manager of the company, said, "inkjet printing can also be controlled by computer programming. It has made many innovations in developing low volatile inks that can withstand the disinfection process.". He said that the U.S. Postal Service recently replaced the original flexographic printing system with inkjet printing system, which is used to print those high-density bar codes. Mr. aleploeger, director of research and Development Technology Department of Sri international, said that inkjet printing may also solve some needs that people have not raised. For example, inkjet printing can print on the packaging being filled, while heat transfer printing machines can only print on flat packaging. At present, there are two inkjet printer suppliers in the market, Domino and Videojet, who are engaged in the development of higher quality printing systems. Conclusion on the whole, although everyone thinks that heat transfer printing can replace flexographic printing at any time, in fact, this situation has not occurred. There are still some companies providing flexographic printing services, such as Bell mark, greydon and kiwicoder, including various types of equipment with high printing quality and fast printing speed, which can be purchased by small enterprises. On the contrary, pharmaceutical packaging enterprises will rely more on a printing system with combined functions to meet their preferred goals. Because for some pharmaceutical companies, this combination is very successful. If we can also economically and successfully meet the new demand for variable data printing, packaging engineers will immediately apply them to more efficient production lines
source: China Packaging