Flex-pack converter Wipak Walsrode uses BOBST oneECG technology to take gravure printing to a whole new level
Driven by its vision to become the most sustainable company in the flexible-packaging converting sector, Wipak Walsrode, together with BOBST, has set out to take its gravure printing to a new level with BOBST’s oneECG technology. The Lower Saxony (Germany) company is thus continuing its long-standing partnership with BOBST.
The multiple benefits of Extended Color Gamut (ECG) printing will support Wipak’s sustainability commitment to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2025. With oneECG from BOBST – the most developed technology for printing with seven standardized colors in gravure – the company will be able to counter massive price pressure more effectively and enable brand owners and retailers to achieve shorter product launch times, all while maintaining high and consistent quality throughout the entire print run.
ABOVE: Fingerprinting for oneECG job run on a BOBST MASTER RS 6003 gravure-printing press in BOBST Italia’s Packaging Center.
Make gravure printing competitive again with oneECG
In combination, BOBST’s expertise in gravure printing and its oneECG technology are crucial for the industry and offer a variety of advantages. For Wipak, it was particularly important to make better use of its gravure press by being able to reduce ink consumption by 30%, setup waste by 50%, and work with fewer printing cylinders on press. All of which allow the company to deliver its products to customers faster. Flexibility, speed, and delivery reliability with ever smaller runs and frequently changing designs are among the most important demands from customers. With ECG, these key requirements can be met, while at the same time lowering manufacturing costs, and reducing environmental impact.
Thanks to the standardization by oneECG, machine downtimes are significantly reduced, as color changes are no longer necessary with every print job. In addition, almost all color matching processes take place in pre-press before the job goes to print. The result is higher color stability and long-term color consistency even over the longest runs, as well as accurate repeatability, regardless of whether repeat jobs are printed on the same printing press or on a different press running oneECG technology.
Stefan Bruns, process & quality mgr.-Converting and project mgr.-ECG at Wipak Walsrode, explains, “oneECG from BOBST offers us the great advantage that we can work with fewer – completely standardized printing inks – and therefore significantly shorten the time when our machines are not producing. This in turn leads to significantly higher productivity. In a very competitive market where there is currently extremely intense pressure on prices, we have to increase our efficiency in gravure printing in order to compete sustainably with flexo printing. BOBST oneECG technology is the solution for us to this and many more challenges in gravure.”
Many advances have been made in flexographic printing over the past decade, including significant improvements in print quality, greater control over the entire production process, the ability to profitably print smaller runs, and reductions in waste during set-up and production changeovers. As a result, many brand owners and retailers have recognized the opportunity to save costs by switching from gravure to flexographic printing. With oneECG from BOBST, gravure printing technology can stand up to this development and shine with its outstanding print quality for both small and medium-sized as well as large print runs.
Bruns adds, “Gravure printing has a great chance of becoming ‘sexy’ again after being pushed back by other printing processes for a long time. At Wipak we call printing in the ECG color space ‘GCP – Green Choice Printing’. This Green Choice is embedded in our sustainability strategy as a very important building block in overcoming the challenge for the plastic packaging industry.”
Partnerships built on mutual trust and support
BOBST’s oneECG is built on major advances in printing and prepress technology. These enable more precise control of processes and allow packaging manufacturers to work within significantly tighter tolerances.
The oneECG solution for gravure printing was developed by BOBST in close collaboration with industry partners. It is a complete system with color management software from Esko, color measurement technology from X-rite, printing cylinder engraving from ICR SpA, and process inks from, among others, Sun Chemical and Siegwerk. It is available on BOBST gravure presses either on new machine installations or as a retrofit option. In both cases, BOBST and partners work closely with printers to exploit the full potential of this technology.
“With its decades of practical experience and the entire know-how of the former Italian machine manufacturers (e.g., Schiavi, Cerutti) that are now part of the company, BOBST is the gravure-printing specialist par excellence,” says Bruns. “Our long-standing cooperation with BOBST is invaluable for Wipak, but it also offers our customers enormous advantages. They appreciate the first-class print quality and the cost advantage due to the sometimes significant reduction in printing cylinder costs that we can offer them thanks to oneECG. The successful realization of the oneECG project in gravure printing is not only based on the right technology, but also on trust and support at all levels.”
The close partnership with BOBST, which dates back more than 20 years, was also evident in 2022 when Wipak supported the Swiss company to win the Golden Cylinder Award for Technical Innovation from the GAA (Gravure AIMCAL Alliance). Wipak’s testimonial was instrumental in BOBST winning the trophy for "Advanced Register Control for Precision Printing and ECG in Gravure" – a prestigious accolade that represents the 14th Golden Cylinder for BOBST in the history of these awards. (Read more about the oneECG development at these links above.)
Wipak Walsrode is currently developing a oneECG future strategy together with its customers in the branded goods industry and retail. “In our view, oneECG from BOBST represents an enormous opportunity to make gravure printing in the Central European market for flexible packaging more attractive again – with the highest print quality across the entire run, higher efficiency, and resource-saving production while at the same time reducing costs for all parties involved, because fewer printing cylinders are needed,” adds Bruns, summarizing the current position.