White ink tinkering continues at Orora

White ink tinkering continues at Orora
Orora closes in on using white ink to print magazine quality images on brown corrugated with its Nozomi

In the next few months Orora Specialty Packaging will begin printing white ink on its Nozomi C18000 press, becoming one of the first companies in the world to do so.

The Australian packaging giant installed the single pass digital Nozomi at its Oakleigh plant in Melbourne last year with the new arrival, the first in Australia, enabling the company to print magazine quality images on white board, a packaging industry game changer as many clients now treat the packaging box as a key plank in brand awareness.

Orora is now very close to adding white ink into the mix which will allow the same magazine quality to be printed on brown corrugated, an offering in high demand particularly among companies keen to promote their environmental sustainability credentials.

The ability to print bright and clear graphics on recycled cartons used for premium craft beers, wine, quality stone fruits like cherries and lychees and premium meats, particularly for export markets, is in particularly high demand.

“We’ve started trialling the white ink,” Orora Speciality Packaging general manager Scott Mayer told ProPrint, adding Orora is one of a few companies globally to be moving into this space on the Nozomi.

“We only had the white ink hardware installed over Christmas and we are working with EFI as a beta-test partner on white.”

Mayer said historically little research and development had been put into producing white ink as the white on a printed page was visible due to the paper, but with the push to use more recycled materials and more natural looking products the need for white ink has increased.

“There hasn’t been a lot of effort on white ink because generally the white you see is the paper, not ink,” he said.

“So on all of our highly decorated boxes we’ve got to print on white paper which is okay for many applications and it suits a lot of artwork but as the focus on sustainability grows and with the communication that a brown box gives the consumer it is like having the best of both worlds, a brown box and still having a beautiful image.”

Historically printing an image on brown cardboard would appear quite washed out and not all customers want their product packaged in a white box, Mayer said.

Mayer said EFI technicians from Spain are due to arrive at Orora’s site in the next few weeks to help work through the complexities of making the ink work.

He said there are two options. The first being to print white directly onto the box and then overlay with the printed colour image. The other is to run white as its own colour within the image but both options have to be done within a single pass.

And how are things going?

“So far so good. We haven’t introduced it to customers yet because we are really trying to work out how are we going to use this and what do we want to deliver to the market so we are starting to talk to some customers to get their view about what they would want,” Mayer said.

The Orora division that Mayer oversees looks after the lower volume but more highly complex jobs with recycled papers coming from the company’s plant in Botany, NSW and other orders coming from various suppliers.

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In terms of industry shifts, Mayer says there has been a clear reduction in run length but with the addition of more varieties or flavours the net result on units produced is the same.

“Typically we’ve seen in our whole industry a reduction in run length because there’s been skewed proliferation so in most processed foods there is now more varieties and more flavours so there will be the same number of products but a lot of more flavours so the run length has come down. And also customers managing their stock holding don’t want to take large volumes. They want to take smaller quantities more often which is better for their working capital and makes them more nimble to change.”

The ability to print variable data is a simple process on the digital Nozomi as there is no physical set up required.

“From a digital perspective digital has no physical set up so we don’t have to make tooling so we can do in theory down to a job lot of one so the lower limit has moved. In saying that there is a lot of artwork that is done and manipulation of the digital file so run lengths of one aren’t practical but they are possible,” Mayer said.

Orora has also now installed a pre-loading device which removes the need for human hands to hoist the board load onto the press. A palletiser at the other end of the operation was constructed using input from four different suppliers and prepares the printed boards onto a pallet for collection by a forklift.

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