Page 58 - Print 21 Magazine Sep-Oct 2018
P. 58

Digital packaging
Getting pouches in the bag
With its move into the flexible pouch market Melbourne's Read Labels and Packaging needed a machine that could handle the new workload and width required – and the fourth-generation HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press supplied by Currie Group was just the thing, as Jake Nelson found when he visited.
It is a cold and windy day in Melbourne’s west when I arrive at Read Labels and Packaging to see the mammoth new
HP Indigo 20000 Digital
Press at the converter’s custom-
built Ravenhall plant. Inside, a case displays the work Read has been doing with its new press and accompanying pouchmaking equipment.
Ross Read, owner, managing director and self-described ringmaster of the company, is eager to show me around the spacious facility, which is humming with activity as jobs run through the machinery. The HP Indigo 20000 occupies an entire corner of the room, and Read has hailed it as the next leap forward for the print side of his business, as it has helped
open up an entire new market in flexible packaging. “The label market is mimicking what has happened in the commercial sector, with a lot of players coming into the market. It hasn’t reached saturation yet, but it’s certainly going that way,” he says.
To keep up with the changing industry, Read decided to branch out into untapped sectors. He says, “We looked at markets that were not being
addressed, and digitally-printed flexibles were one of those: about five years ago, there were only one or two companies playing around with it."
Read Labels and Packaging is one of the few companies in the world to have operated one of each generation of
HP Indigo narrow-web presses. Read upgraded from the third-generation HP Indigo WS6800 to gain the extra web width he needed for pouches, having previously owned a second- generation HP Indigo 4500, and first-generation HP Indigo 2000. “The main thing with the HP Indigo 20000 is its ability to print on a 750mm wide web digitally,” he says. “It is quite a massive shift from our previous narrow-web machines, which could print on films of about 330mm. The web width is definitely the most critical thing in flexible packaging.”
Despite investing in the new press, Read, whose background is in self- adhesive labels, is reluctant to call himself a printer. “With the purchase of the HP Indigo 20000 and ancillary equipment we are transitioning into a manufacturer of stand-up and centre-seal bags,” he says. “We have become a full-service company which produces flexible packaging, but not
Massive shift: Ross Read with the HP Indigo 20000.
just in a rewind or print side – we make finished products. We are using digital technology to enable that.”
For label converters looking to follow Read into flexibles, he offers a word of caution if they plan on using their existing equipment. “There is a lot of opportunity for label converters in flexible packaging, but it is limited by the width you can print,” he says. “The 315mm narrow-web digital machines will get you into markets like shrink sleeves for beer cans, but when you get into other flexibles, you will find that if you are printing at 315mm then the you will get a job for 330mm. Width will be the thing that slows you down most of the time.”
Read is a long-term customer of Currie Group, and is happy with
the relationship he has developed with the supplier over the decade or so they have worked together. “We have had plenty of support from Currie Group over the years,” said Read. “The ramp-up from any form of conventional to digital is a different mindset, and Currie Group has been with us all the way through.
Ultimately, says Read, his company’s journey into flexibles is a testament
to the agility of a small business.
“It is a story of a company evolving. Being small and not having a board of directors, we can move pretty quickly if we decide to do something,” he said.
“It’s a case of, right, let’s do it – don’t procrastinate, just get some money together and off we go.”
Mark Daws, director - Labels & Packaging ANZ at Currie Group says, "Ross Read is highly entrepreneurial and it reflects in the innovation that Read Labels & Packaging provides its customer base.”
“The HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press
is the perfect digital solution for flexible packaging converters, matching gravure quality print, whilst being completely safe for food and beverage applications. HP Indigo offers complimentary solutions for a more tailored, agile supply chain, particularly aimed at
new launch, fast turnaround and end
of life flexible packaging and label applications, with the added advantage of printing variable imagery and text.” 21

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