At Labelexpo Europe short print runs are generating interest for web offset and for the variable sleeve technology of the Sunday Vpak gravure presses. Developed by Goss for labeling flexible packaging, they maximise the simplicity and the economic advantages of the process symbolizing quality.

Four years ago, bolstered by the success achieved on the US market of editorial and commercial printing (of which it holds a 45% market share), Goss started up a “packaging project”, creating the gravure offset press Sunday Vpak for flexible packaging and labeling. Proposed as an alternative to sheetfed offset and, aboveall, to gravure  and flexo printing, it is appreciated for the print quality and for the advantages ensured in terms of efficiency, speed and economic expediency.
Now, after two years of tests carried out in the Durham Demo center on different types of material (substrates and inks, but also coatings etc.), as well as the job tests of customers from all around the world, the machine has won its place as a complete and reliable system, this too for food packaging. And at the latest Labelexpo, where it was on show integrated with a flexo coating unit, the Vpak won over the European operators, debunking the prejudice that offset is difficult to handle and that it is normally relegated to the printing of books and catalogues.

A few simple calculations. At Brussels David A. Muncaster, head of packaging sector development, and Claudio Minerva (New Age), the Italian representative of Goss International, translated the advantages of the Vpak into figures.
«We have designed the machine considering the specific needs of the packaging segment, first of all of easy to manage and profitable processes», Muncaster states.
«With the ever greater number of references, indeed runs often become too long for digital printing and too short for other technologies. Flexo and gravure become less competitive when you have to deal with over 20 projects in a day instead of the scheduled 5 or 6, leading to a consequent multiplication of plate makeready costs, start-up operations, commissioning and machine stops, leading to the relative erosion of margins».
In these cases the advantages of the offset press are based on the relative simplicity of the substrates, that can be administrated in-house instead of having to buy plates and cylinders engraved by external suppliers. As well as that, plate costs are only a fraction of those corresponding to other processes, without counting the fact that the flexibility and the control of these systems is a lot higher, leaving time to complete the artwork.

The Quality matter. Lastly, Muncaster invites to remember what is the most important thing: offset ensures a great control of colors and a standardized process that enables the managing, at high production speeds, of a vast range of substrates, including thin film, paper, folding board and corrugated board. «Vpak guarantees the proven quality of offset, along with the relative stability and reliability, and a speedier and more economical makeready».