Gravure is a printing process that has been spoken of relatively little of late, compared with other printing methods that have undergone a very fast transformation. However, the demands of the fast-moving consumers good industry have been pressing on gravure printing just as much: increasingly short run production and time-to-market, packaging customization, ready to recycle packaging substrates and the need for global brand color consistency.

“Gravure is still the most highly regarded printing process for packaging due to its unique capability to create fine print and incredibly sharp definition graphics with an unmatched eye-catching shelf appeal – all at very high speeds and low costs” says Jonathan Giubilato, Gravure Product Line Manager at Bobst Italia, BOBST’s Center of Excellence for gravure printing, laminating and coating technologies.

“However, the time has come for gravure to get out of its well-established comfort zone of medium and high-volume productions and become a printing technology to be considered for all of today’s market requirements”.

Global color consistency is a conformity that brand owners aim to achieve on a global scale because when it comes to their favorite brands, consumers tend to perceive the lack of color consistency as a product quality issue. Therefore, printers and packaging converters must be equipped to deliver on this request and the adoption of the Extended Color Gamut (ECG) technology is one of the essential conditions.

BOBST has been pioneering the use of ECG and digitalized workflows that it deploys across all its analogue and digital printing in the labels, flexible packaging, folding carton and corrugated board markets through the BOBST oneECG technology. oneECG solutions are tailored to the requirements of each type of printing technology to ensure a successful and efficient implementation of color consistency on multiple substrates.

oneECG for gravure printing presses is an open-partnership system to multiple suppliers, developed for use with solvent-based and water-based inks. oneECG​​​​​​​ partners along the value chain collaborate to achieve the highest color stability, repeatability and consistency and are certified to ensure quality of results on BOBST gravure ECG ready presses.

The adoption of the Extended Color Gamut printing in gravure can bring many additional advantages in addition to the 100% repeatability of color consistency and print job quality.

These benefits include:

  • More effective job preparation, reliable color profile activities offline and keeping the variables controlled on the machine
  • Savings on inks and time as there is no need to change colors in the print units at job changeovers. ECG fixed palette colors remain always on press
  • Enhanced agility on print cycles even for shorter print runs, with greatly reduced time to market
  • Possibility to make a series of job variants share the same engraved print cylinders
  • Less cylinders and Pantone color in stock
  • Reduction of parts to be cleaned, saving operator time and material costs
  • Technology retrofittable on installed gravure presses

Jonathan concludes “The time has come for the gravure printing technology to become an active part of the packaging industry’s ongoing transformation. We have achieved outstanding results following intense R&D investments and print trials and there is no doubt that ECG in gravure represents the next big leap in flexible packaging printing. There is exciting opportunity for gravure converters to embrace the sector’s next significant step-change and ensure the best future for their gravure operations. As a turnkey industry partner, BOBST has everything in place to support them making the switch”.