Each year under the patronage of the German Ministry for Economy and Energy the German Packaging Award is presented to only the very best ideas and innovations in the packaging industry. This year a specialist jury of 16 selected nominees from a total of 230 submitted entries. One of the prizewinners for 2014 is NMP Systems GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of KHS GmbH, which convinced the expert team with its new Direct Print and Nature MultiPackTMdevelopments – both currently at the prototype stage and which won the award as an overall concept. In combination they produce a multipack where information is printed directly onto individual PET bottles bonded together by dots of adhesive, thus producing a packaging system which is not only completely new but also extremely sustainable.
Brilliant print quality
In the direct digital printing process PET bottles are decorated with non-migrating UV inks, thus doing away with the need to apply labels. The containers are printed with CMYK process inks, white and – if required – special colors with an optical resolution of 1,080 x 1,080 dpi. The result is a brilliant color image. The UV inks dry within milliseconds and have an outstanding adhesion, therefore perfectly retaining the quality of the decoration during further processing of the bottles on the line, shipping to the retail outlet and handling by the consumer. Extensive research has confirmed that KHS' direct digital printing process is completely safe for the printing of food packaging. The printed PET bottles are of course also bottle-to-bottle recyclable.
Focus on flexibility, sustainability and cost reduction
Companies which utilize the Direct Print process profit from a very high level of flexibility indeed, as the required print images can be transfered straight to the bottle. Compared to the classic labeling system the time to market intervals are much shorter. The system is also especially sustainable and cuts costs. Labeling materials and adhesive are now completely superfluous. At the same time no more logistics are needed for label procurement, thus reducing costs for logistics and also CO2 emissions. If we assume, for example, that a classic labeling machine applies 36,000 labels per hour on 220 days of the year in two-shift operation, around 60 metric tons of labeling materials plus the necessary adhesive can be saved when the Direct Print system is used.
The two buzzwords "sustainability" and "cost reduction" are equally applicable to the newly developed Nature MultiPackTM. Here, PET bottles are simply bonded together by dots of specially developed adhesive which ensures very good pack stability. Consumers simply twist the individual bottles off from the rest of the pack. Compared to conventional multipacks, where containers are wrapped in film, it has been proved that the Nature MultiPackTM requires up to 85% less packaging material and saves up to 67% energy during production. The new packaging system can be applied not only to PET bottles but also to glass bottles and cans.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Niemeyer, CEO of KHS GmbH, says, "We've taken new paths with Direct Print and Nature MultiPackTM, giving our customers the chance to be innovative leaders on their markets. The German Packaging Award 2014 once again underlines the viability of these two systems for the future. We're very pleased that a team as highly qualified as the expert jury for the German Packaging Award has specifically voted for this new and sustainable packaging system."