By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
As digital printing continues to advance, the objects in which can be directly printed to expands. Direct-to-object and direct-to-shape printers help facilitate this with devices designed to print to a variety of three-dimensional surfaces, including cylindrical shapes.
Established in 1967 as part of Lageen Group, Lageen Tubes offers custom packaging tubes for a range of clients in various industries. Serving more than 30 countries, it is headquartered in Israel with an additional manufacturing site in Bulgaria.
The company manufactures plastic and aluminum packaging for common consumer goods, including cosmetics and toiletries as well as food and pharmaceuticals.
The ability to offer a higher level of decoration for designs that are complex to do with traditional printing methods and self-sufficient production capabilities sets Lageen Tubes apart from the competition.
The company brought in digital printing technology from Velox to support its operation in 2018. The Velox IDS series is the next generation of industrial decoration systems. Based on its dual-pillar technology of system architecture and inks, coupled with first-class technical support, it delivers high quality, high speed, and low total cost of ownership, while improving the sustainability of packaging decoration.
Lageen Tubes’ investment in Velox IDS digital direct-to-shape printing technology was a result of the manufacturer’s desire to exceed the capabilities and benefits of analog direct-to-shape printing solutions. Yoni Kinan, printing manager, Lageen Tubes, notes that the implementation expanded the range of existing printing solutions for its customers. The direct-to-shape digital printing capabilities are primarily used by Lageen Tubes for orders with design complexity on Polyethylene tubes.
Kinan sees many benefits of digital print in its business including a large variety of colors, gradients, half-tones, and full-color print executed in one process without the need for plates, the ability to setup the desired print through a computer-based system in a short time, the ability to print on the tube cap, 360 degree printing without an overlap, and the capability to incorporate a range of customization opportunities in one order.
Lageen Tubes is keen to the growing effect of digital in many areas of manufacturing, and knew that it wanted to experience the benefits and offer them to clients early on. It identified the digital printing trend in labels and wanted to supply similar features, but directly on the tube and not on a label.
“We wanted to provide our customers a higher level of printing of complex images and background. It was important for us to identify market trends and provide customers with up-to-date, innovative solutions that they could not find elsewhere,” says Kinan.
It found this with Velox and as a result dramatically expanded its capabilities and offerings.
In and Outs
Investing in new technologies typically goes hand-in-hand with a learning curve. Lageen has reinvented its processes to accommodate digital direct-to-shape capabilities.
“Working with a digital printing system requires appropriate training and preparation of the team, adjustment of processes and workspace, and mostly working in a computer-based system,” shares Kinan. “Different parameters should be taken into account, which differ from traditional printing methods on tubes such as offset and silkscreen. Professional remote and onsite technical support play a major role in the successful integration of the digital system.”
When completing orders, the tube manufacturer communicates with customers to determine their needs and the best solution to achieve them. Orders are placed into their system using the same method for digital and conventional, which involves a formal customer order and confirmation.
The duration and technology of the print depends on design complexity. Lageen Tube’s prepress department works to adjust anything necessary for printing on the Velox.
Depending on the complexity of the project, turnaround times vary. Typical run lengths are about 25,000 pieces. “In certain cases, it can take a few days and in others a month or more as the customer might be in the middle of the creative process to build a brand, a product, or a series of products.”
Quality control is essential for all of its orders and starts at the beginning of the process with product approval and continues through preparations of checking and confirming all related aspects and continuous monitoring of the production. At the end of the process, finished goods are approved and released.
To achieve maximum print quality, Kinan says it uses specially formulated digital UV inks supplied by Velox.
For materials, tubes are made up of a blend of liner-, high-, low-density polyethylene and a variety of caps. For digitally printed items diameters of 35, 40, and 50 mm are offered.
Kinan explains that in the analog printing process, finishing typically involves a varnish or matte layer. However, with direct-to-shape digital decoration, the print is performed on the varnish layer. In the future, the company plans to offer matte varnish. “Velox provides resistible inks, therefore there is no fear of finishing the process without a varnish coating.”
Lageen Tubes handles all aspects of tube design and production in house, from prepress and platemaking to tube and cap production and decoration. “Self-sufficient production capabilities enable Lageen Tubes to offer exceptionally agile production, fast turnaround, and reliable delivery,” shares Kinan. “Our operational efficiency and flexibility enables us to constantly develop and create new solutions, such as cutting-edge tubes of different materials, technologies, sizes, and décor. Currently, we are leading in environmentally friendly solutions such as PCR tubes, sugar cane raw material tubes, as well as PE mono-material tubes for better recycling.”
With its digital direct-to-shape printing capabilities, Lageen Tubes is able to do more, like better printing of complex images and background; print on caps; offer customization; and print 360 degrees without an overlap, a feature that dramatically simplifies the execution of digital printing. “Customers are not always aware of the complexity of making different elements in design.”
For Lageen Tubes, digital direct-to-shape printing continues to gain interest and positive feedback among its customers. The manufacturer continues to expand its service offerings and capabilities to remain ahead of the curve.
Part two of this series looks at the potential for direct-to-object printing in smaller scale operations. IPM
Read part two of this series, Curve Appeal.
Feb2021, Industrial Print Magazine