After extensive testing together with Domino, we are the first supplier capable of printing shrink sleeves on a hybrid flexo-digital press.
In this blog, I will explain more about the process of shrink sleeve printing, and provide 3 key necessities so you too, can print shrink sleeves on a hybrid press.
MPS web transport system
Previously, using a hybrid press to print shrink sleeves was not possible, mainly because of the web transport system as the unwind and rewind with thin films caused a web tension too high for shrink sleeves.
You don’t want the material to stretch during printing!
So, the number one necessity is a web transport system that can print in register with low web tension, to prevent stretching of the shrink sleeve material.
The MPS web transport system has proven ideal, as it can process any material, including thin films, from 12 micron foils up to 250 micron carton, in hybrid mode. In single flexo mode, it can handle up to 400 micron carton.
The second key necessity is special ink, suitable for shrinking.
Domino changed their ink chemistry with the UV90 ink set to improve coverage and print quality on many media types, including shrink materials. This is especially important on areas with higher density, as the layer of ink cannot be too thick as it has to go through the shrinking process. Prepress modification of the designs is also required.
And, when printing in both flexo and inkjet, it is essential that both inks shrink equally. This is a challenge, as flexo ink tends to shrink more easily than inkjet ink.
Knowledge of the flexo and inkjet printing process
Shrink sleeve material is a difficult substrate to convert, mainly because of the above mentioned challenges.
This is where the third necessity comes into play.
To successfully print shrink sleeves on a hybrid press, the press and prepress operators need knowledge of both the flexo and the inkjet printing process, and the finishing process, too - as both processes work differently.
EF SYMJET: hybrid shrink sleeve printing and in-line finishing
The EF SYMJET combines the stability of the MPS EF flexo platform with Domino’s proven N610i inkjet platform.
This powerful hybrid combination makes it possible to not only print shrink sleeves in flexo and inkjet, but also apply varnishes, foils, and finish the shrink sleeves by slitting the sides in-line. Then, the shrink sleeve can go directly to the seam machine after printing.
This video shows a live demonstration of shrink sleeve printing at 70 m/min during the Hybrid Demo Days:
Curious to know more about hybrid printing, or shrink sleeve printing on a hybrid press in particular? Just click the ‘speak to a specialist’ button and we’ll be happy to help.