Accelerating business: How CI flexo could have a industry-wide impact

With the Soma Optima 880 CI flexo press, the Chennai-based Multiflex has created a timetable to deliver top quality products. Rajendra Mehta, the managing director, Multiflex shares insights about the importance of CI flexo and how it caters to the fast-changing packaging needs

07 Nov 2023 | By Abhay Avadhani

The Soma Optima 880 CI flexo press at Multiflex factory in Chennai

Abhay Avadhani (AA): What does it mean to you and the Multiflex Polybags team to win the AFTA awards on 21 September?
Rajendra Mehta (RM):
We won one bronze award in the mid-web category and two gold awards in narrow-web flexibles. The event was held in Bangkok on 21 September.

AA: In 2021, you invested in a new eight-colour Soma Optima 880 CI flexo press, which has enabled the company to increase its turnaround time. Why one more Soma?
RM:
As we had big chunks of short-run narrow width jobs, we had to opt for a small machine with a quick changeover facility. Hence, we chose the Soma Optima 880 CI.

AA: Why one more Soma?
RM:
With the new installation, Multiflex has four CI flexo presses, adding to its range of three-layer and five-layer extrusion systems and fully automated paper bag-making and finishing systems among other machines. Plus a paper bagging machine.

AA: Are brands using flexo better? Has it led you to any design innovation in packaging?
RM:
In India, the mid-segment customers and brand owners are not aware about flexo’s capabilities, we have to educate them on the advantages of flexo. We have done lots of customisation for the customers.

AA: What more should flexo players such as Multiflex do to convince top brands in order to establish technology leadership?
RM:
As a 100% flexo operator, it’s a long way to go but yes, customers have started accepting the flexo process, as the quality output is visible.

AA: It's said that flexo is the poor cousin of gravure. How would you respond to such a critique?
RM:
It used to be the case a few years ago. But today it's at par with gravure except for certain varnish processes, which flexo can’t do.

AA: How many customers in the hygiene and food industry are asking for ECG? What is your experience?
RM:
None of the customers are asking for ECG, as they are not aware of this process yet.

AA: You have developed a PE+PE laminate structure in-house team for ready-to-use food packaging. What has been the response?
RM:
Yes we started this in 2020. The response from the customers has been poor as they want the stiffness of PET. There is still a long way to go.

AA: PE-PE laminates in the detergent field and BOPP, CPP laminate in food packaging became prominent during Covid-19. What do your numbers say? Which substrates dominate and why?
RM:
BOPP, CPP and PET will continue to dominate the market, until and unless the push for MDO mono-material laminate film comes from the brand owners.

AA: There are so many standards available in the market to disclose sustainability-related data. What should the Indian flexible packaging follow? For example, GRI, TCFD, SASB, CDP, EcoVadis?
RM:
India is a price-sensitive market with weak government guidelines. In order to follow GRI, TCFD, SASB, CDP, and EcoVadis in India, it is a long way away.


Rajendra Mehta: BOPP, CPP and PET will continue to dominate the market, until and unless the push for MDO mono-material laminate film comes from the brand owners

AA: How is the balance between innovation and sustainability achieved? For example, how do UV ink technologies stand the test of sustainability, recovery and reuse?
RM:
These are in the development stages. It is a work in progress project. Yes, this will be the norm in the future. But when, we don’t know that yet.

AA: Some of the flexible packaging majors have expanded their paper-based packaging capacity. 
RM:
Yes, we will be seeing more paper-based packaging in the future.

AA: Does Multiflex Polybags have plans for the personalisation of packaging in India with bespoke messaging?
RM:
Not yet, as the Indian market is yet to mature to that stage of personalisation.

AA: How does flexo perform with BOPP, BOPET, polyethylene, cast polypropylene, polypropylene, polyamide, ethylene vinyl alcohol, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene?
RM:
Flexo is the best answer to handle this diverse range of PE films and substrates.

AA: What are your expectations from your materials partner?
RM:
The only expectation is consistency. Material partners have to deliver according to their commitments.

AA: Multiflex prints on LLDPE, HMHDPE, PET, PP, BOPP, CPP, and polyester. What is the toughest substrate to produce on? And why?
RM:
BOPA is the toughest substrate as it is hygroscopic in nature. it absorbs atmospheric moisture quickly

AA: Next five years of flexible packaging in India? What are you picking up from your customers?
RM:
I think we will receive more orders for short runs, with more variables and vibrant designs. Flexo is ready for this.

Rajendra Mehta: The future has to be sustainable

AA: One wow project you created?
RM:
We had a project of a package of fish and prawns supplements. This was a 10-kg pack. We converted an eight-colour design into a straight four-colour job with high metallic effects.

AA: What is your sustainable strategy for India?
RM:
We will have more acquisitions and increase in production capacity  

AA: When you talk of sustainability - what do you mean?
RM:
Downgauging of materials is not helpful, while renewable raw materials are the only answer. Circular economy is achievable through development of recyclable materials.

AA: What are the challenges; and more importantly how does flexo compare?
RM:
Flexo as a process in itself is a big challenge. It needs the right team to create the magic.

AA: Have you spotted any innovation in the process that impressed you?
RM:
Hybrid screening technology has caught my attention the most.

AA: The higher the LPI the lower the plate life. Your take on this statement?
RM:
Yes the higher the LPI the lower the plate life due to friction. The best answer is hybrid screening.

AA: And finally, a bit of horoscoping from each of you: Plans for the next 12 months - and one prediction for 2023-24?
RM:
One more CI flexo press which shall be installed in the next 12-18 months.

Multiflex Polybag’s award-winning samples

Multiflex bagged two gold awards at the Asian Packaging Excellence Awards 2023. One of them was for the category, metallised paper / aluminium foil. The company’s sample included Nutriyes Multigrain Cream Wafers - Orange / Strawberry. The job was reverse printed on PET / laminated to metallised polyester and LDPE natural, with Tesa tape. Tech-specs include a seven-colour CI flexo Soma Optima 820 press with Siegwerk ink, along with pre-press solutions from Veepee Graphics.

The second gold by Multiflex Polybags was printed on the eight-colour Soma Optima 820 as well. With flexo plates provided by Veepee Graphics and ink solutions from Siegwerk and Huber.
 

Latest Poll

Which is the sustainable packaging product among MSMEs that is most popular?

Results

Which is the sustainable packaging product among MSMEs that is most popular?

Bagasse and biodegradable boxes

 

33.33%

Corrugated boxes

 

33.33%

Paper bags

 

33.33%

Recyclable plastic (bubble wraps, bio-plastic)

 

0%

Total Votes : 3

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