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The Alexir Partnership breaks into niche, small-run folding carton markets with Xerox, TRESU

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Press release from the issuing company

Kolding, Denmark / Edenbridge, UK - Folding carton supplier the Alexir Partnership (Edenbridge, UK) is offering cost-effective packaging solutions for the booming artisanal food market and providing a host of high-value services, after installing a digital sheet-fed printing, coating and finishing workflow.  Installed in May 2015, the workflow features a Xerox iGen 4 sheet-fed digital printer with a TRESU Pinta coater integrated inline and, near-line, a KAMA ProFold 74 folder / gluer and Kongsberg Plotter.

With its high speed, minimal setup times, automated features and variable data capability, the single-pass printing-coating line enables Alexir to enter short-run printing markets and offer solutions including samples on-demand and personalised packaging.

Capable of up to 110 sheets / minute, the four colour (CMYK) iGen 4 press meets exacting quality targets with minimal manual intervention. It includes an inline spectrophotometer that automates colour adjustments and calibration, automatic density control, and high-definition linearisation that eliminates the need for grey-scale calibration.

The post-print coating operation, provided by TRESU's Pinta inline flexo coater, provides a layer of protection and enhances aesthetic appeal. A wide range of UV- or water-based finishes are possible that offer identical results to that of analogue print. These include matte, gloss, full surface, spot or fine-line effects.

The Alexir Partnership identified the need to add a digital workflow to its existing litho operation when it faced demand from emerging small food businesses, including farms, that aim to sell into specialist niches or local markets.   

Claire Summersby, marketing manager at the Alexir Partnership, comments: “Before we invested in digital capabilities, we would get enquires for runs of perhaps 500 cartons, but our litho-printing operation was simply too costly for their needs. With the Xerox and TRESU production line and its minimised setup times, we can give these producers the fast supplies of appealing, high-impact packaging that result in retail listings and sales beyond the farmer’s market.”

Some of Alexir’s clients are luxury brands. One example is Life Shot 200, a natural, highly concentrated coconut kefir health drink containing 200 billion bacteria, sold in glass bottles that are packed in a carton.

Most jobs on the Xerox-TRESU printing / coating line are below 5,000 units, though variable data run-lengths can be up to 100,000 units. Being viable for very short runs, digital print is a cheaper, faster and more realistic method of producing samples than using mock-ups.

Scott Beadell, digital production manager at the Alexir Partnership, comments: “With the seamless integration of the coater inline with the printer, we achieve the look and feel of the final printed result without extra logistics, material waste and setup times.  You can see immediately what the final product will look like.”

The TRESU Pinta is built to ensure productivity. Its patented sleeve technology that ensures stable, precise coverage at up to 5,000 sheets / hour. Fast sleeve-changes and an automatic, self-cleaning coating supply system limit job changeover times to just minutes even when switching between UV and water-based varnishes. After coating, the sheets are wheeled to the adjacent KAMA ProFold 74 gluer / folder or a Kongsberg plotter.

The press and coater cater for a wide array of paper stocks including coated, uncoated, textured, smooth, and speciality materials, and sheets of maximum cut size of 364mm x 660mm. Alexir specified the print / coating line to handle substrates up to 610 micron thickness to meet specialist demands.

Alexir’s foray into digital print resulted in their being awarded Investment Project of the Year at the 2015 UK Packaging Awards.


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