ProAmpac's Flexible Pouch is Naturally The Best
Beyond the brilliant reds, deep purples and vivid blues that leap out from the front of the frozen fruit pouch printed by ProAmpac for Sunrise Growers, there’s one word that immediately catches the consumer’s eye — Organic.
It’s printed in larger font than the Sunrise Growers brand name and is even bigger than the text detailing the Cherry Berry flavor of the fruit blend. With all of this emphasis placed on the organic aspect of the product, ProAmpac’s Print Production Manager Gary Munsch explains its packaging needed to reflect the natural connotation associated with organic foods.
“There are challenges to get that depth of field look and present it to people so that on the package it looks more like a photograph than anything,” Munsch says. “Those are just some of the challenges and we were happy with the results that we got on this package. The natural organic look is what we were looking for.”
Not only did ProAmpac achieve its goal of expressing the fruit’s organic attributes, the print job was so precise that the judges in the 31st packagePRINTING Excellence Awards named the pouch as Best of Show among the nearly 200 entries that took part in the competition, along with first place in the Flexible Packaging: Flexo (Process) category.
While the three-dimensional appearance of the variety of berries impressed the judging panel, it was ProAmpac’s ability to get such high quality results on a notoriously challenging substrate that most amazed the judges.
“It is printed in perfect register and excellent color on a thin, flexible and stretchable film,” said Michael Eichler, director of print technology for KBA, and one of the event’s judges. “Printing on an inherently unstable substrate is difficult to begin with, achieving perfect register and color clarity tops it off.”
According to Millie Nuno, ProAmpac’s director of marketing, a high level of expertise is needed to print on the polyethylene substrate, which also features a matte varnish/overlacquer to protect the print and enhance the natural look and feel. But the staff at ProAmpac’s Auburn, Wash., facility that printed the pouch have become very well-versed in how to get the best results on the challenging material.
The advantage that ProAmpac has over many of its competitors, Nuno explains, is that the company manufactures the substrate in house, allowing it to be developed in accordance with ProAmpac’s printing process and specifications. Scott Manderson, ProAmpac’s prepress supervisor, explains that the key to working with this substrate in particular is paying very close attention to web tension.
“You need enough tension on that web to hold its stability around the drum,” he says. “You can’t go overboard or you will have a negative effect on your repeat, so it makes it a little more of a challenge.”
In addition to manufacturing the substrate, Munsch explains that ProAmpac controlled nearly every other process in manufacturing the pouch, including working color and preparing the electronic prepress file for plating, making the plates, and of course, printing it on one of the company’s 10-color, 52˝ Windmoeller & Hoelscher Novoflex presses.
“We controlled the production process from start to finish and I think that’s very hard to do for a house that has to purchase film, plates, etc.,” Munsch says. “Plate making is another key ingredient to having a successful press run. Our use of DuPont plate material, along with very specific procedures gives us a very repeatable plate for color reproduction. All those elements that you’re able to control makes pulling something like this off a reality.”
What makes the pouch even more impressive is that the printing of it needs to be functional, as opposed to just being eye-catching. Because the pouch is for frozen fruit, the ink needs to be able to withstand frigid temperatures, along with maintaining a strong rub resistance so it does not wear off during shipping and transport.
Munsch states that the company worked in close concert with its ink supplier, Siegwerk, to develop an ink that would provide the required durability and visual impact.
“The bottom line is for us to print an order and print it in a clean fashion, you have to have an ink that performs well,” he says. “I think a key part to printing is having a supplier that’s willing to work with you and make an ink that works well for you.”