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First digitally printed capsules in Spain

Closure manufacturer Metálicas Canals (MMCanals) has installed two HP Indigo press ws4500s for printing capsules and caps for the food and drink markets.

For some time, advocates of digital printing have predicted that digital presses would come to be used by packaging companies and other manufacturers whose primary activities were other than printing. In bringing digital printing into its manufacturing facility, MMCanals is the first to offer this type of service in Spain, and it is reaping the benefits.

Established in 1947, MMCanals is a family business that first focused on the manufacture of penicillin capsules, later moving into metallic cap production for applications like soft drink and beer bottles. The company had the opportunity to diversify into the manufacture of other closures and also produces large volumes of capsules for wine bottles when synthetic materials began to replace metal.

Transforming the process 
In the past, MMCanals carried out all its printing using nine gravure presses. Production is now being migrated to the HP Indigo press ws4500s with PE, PET, biodegradable PVC and special substrates printed with up to seven colours and finished with a range of techniques including hot foil stamping and embossing.

“The HP Indigo presses give us greater flexibility,” said Roger Guasch, general manager, MMCanals. “Our aim is to replace our conventional presses with digital ones, not least because it’s a cleaner technology.”

MMCanals’s HP Indigo presses have many advantages over conventional printing, a number of which impact on the environment. The manufacture of gravure cylinders is costly and requires the use of more energy and solvents than digital printing. By its nature, conventional (gravure, flexo and litho) printing has a start-up period during which ink application and register are achieved. This process generates material waste – in the case of MMCanals, waste of expensive substrates – and lengthens the overall press time. As such, it is only cost-effective for longer runs.

With HP Indigo technology, start-up waste is eliminated as print quality and ink register are immediately achieved. Job changeovers, using the same substrate, can be done on-the-fly, and HP ElectroInk is dry when it leaves the press and can be finished immediately making the entire production process more efficient.

“We have spent a considerable period of time integrating digital printing into our production workflow,” Guasch continued. “The prepress process for the manufacture of capsules is similar to the prepress techniques used in digital printing. We are also able to expand our colour palette, offer short runs, make rapid changes to artwork, and thus extend our customer base to those for whom our production methods would not have previously been appropriate.”
MMCanals employs 115 people with a team of sales representatives, dealers and associated companies in France and the US.

December 09

1 December 2009 - Felicity Murray