Industry supply chain members Xeikon and Sappi have entered into a development partnership for printed and recyclable paper-based flexible packaging.

Sappi is a manufacturer of flexible packaging papers with integrated barriers and heat-seal capability. Xeikon develops digital printing engines, both toner-based and inkjet, for a variety of packaging applications. One of its latest developments is Titon, a new toner formulation responding to sustainability trends in packaging, and claimed to offer, ‘all the benefits of UV inks without the disadvantages.’ Specifically, this sees the combination of the food-safe and odourless properties of dry toner with the special resistance to chemicals and mechanical abrasion of UV inkjet ink.

Titon can be used to print many types of flexible packaging for food products, including papers that are coated on one side for bags, pouches and sachets, or on both sides for wrappers such as baked goods, confectionery, sugar, flour, herbs and spices, and coffee and tea. Thanks to its special formulation, Titon can be used to print directly onto paper-based packaging materials without the need for additional varnishing or lamination to protect the print. The first press to use this technology is the 520mm-wide TX-500, which prints in up to five colours at 30m/min and a resolution of 1200dpi. The technology also withstands temperatures of up to 220-260 degrees C.

With Titon and TX-500, Xeikon has set its sights on the paper-based flexible packaging market, which, as predicted by Sappi, ‘is experiencing strong growth due to demand for resource-saving, recyclable and plastic-free alternatives from end-users as well as brand owners and converters.’

To achieve this, the partners have begun developing direct printing on paper-based materials and perfecting the recyclability of the resulting flexible packaging. So far, the best printing results have been achieved with Sappi’s functional papers, Seal Silk with a 67g/sqm basis weight and Sappi AvantGuard S Natural in 75g/sqm grammage. The one-side coated, heat-sealable Seal Silk is recommended for standard flexible packaging in the food and non-food sectors in particular, while the uncoated, heat-sealable AvantGuard S Natural high-barrier paper is equally suitable for various flexible packaging applications in the food and non-food markets. AvantGuard S Gloss is also now being tested by Titon beta site ACM Plastics in Italy.

Sibylle Hajostek, market manager, packaging solutions at Sappi, commented, ‘Both papers have an exceptionally high-quality appeal and were developed specifically for the flexible packaging market. The results we achieved in combination with the Titon technology left absolutely nothing to be desired – neither visually nor functionally.’

Frank Jacobs, market intel and senior product manager at Flint Group Digital, said, ‘The print image we created in combination with the Sappi papers was nothing less than phenomenal. Results like these on paper-based substrates can otherwise only be achieved with flexo printing.’