Lyft Visual Invests in Agfa Graphics’ :Dotrix UV Digital Inkjet

Canada-based Lyft Visual is a sister company of the Boehmer Box family, a leader in the
printing and packaging industry with a reputation for pioneering innovation, technology and
sustainability. Boehmer Box employs almost 300 people, manufacturing a variety of carton and
packaging products as well as signage and POP materials for a number of major clients in the
food carton market, including Wallmart, Sobeys, Loblaws and Janes Family Foods. Lyft, a new
start up, will complement the Boehmer Box offering through innovative solutions to prepress
and digital printing.

Lyft is part of a well-managed group that has grown by 20% over the last two years, despite the
recession. The company aims to expand output to 1 billion folding cartons a year and sees the
Agfa :Dotrix digital UV inkjet packaging press as a key contributor to those plans.
Lyft Visual and Boehmer Box’s core market is private-label food packaging. They have a
reputation for exceptional graphic quality and use recycled board/materials in keeping with their
environmentally friendly ethos. The companies believe that by ‘lifting’ the visual quality of
product packaging there is a fast and direct improvement in retail sales. However, Lyft is
working in a notoriously
competitive and demanding
market segment that requires
the unique speed and flexibility
of the Agfa :Dotrix to help them
stay one step ahead of their
competition.

Mark Caines, the group
president and COO, feels that
the time for digital UV inkjet
press technology is already
here: “We had to ask ourselves
where the industry is headed.
Commercial printing has
moved toward a digital and variable environment. This is now moving into packaging. We could see digital was on the
horizon, and the need to stay abreast of our customers’ needs for samples, short runs and POP
materials to support some of the cartons we produce for them.”

:Dotrix modularity gives flexibility

The Agfa :Dotrix is actually a
standard industrial Edale
flexographic press with a
SPICE or ‘single-pass inkjet
colour engine’ module
attached to it . This combines
the width and speed of a
robust press with the flexibility
of UV inkjet technology. The
result is the ability to print on
virtually any substrate, from
flexible film to carton stock,
using materials as diverse as
paper, boxboard, label stock,
styrenes and PVC. Since the
:Dotrix is fully modular it can be configured with units to pre-coat stock for specific effects such
as varnishing, metallic coating, opaque white as well as in line die cutting, slitting, sheeting,
folding, etc.

Digital design means that the :Dotrix needs neither plates nor lengthy maintenance/cleaning
between jobs. Nor does it have long and expensive ‘make-ready’ periods before starting.
With :Dotrix a job can begin with the press of a button and be ready minutes later; whether it’s
a run length of ten or a run length of 10,000, the costing is very competitive. This means that
Lyft can work closely with brand owners who may initially require just ten copies of 30 new
cartons for internal evaluation, future product launches or trade shows.

Being able to satisfy orders for evaluation samples in a fast and efficient manner will always put
a packaging printer in the pole position for subsequent scale-up to larger orders. A traditional
press simply could not produce shorter run work as quickly as the Agfa :Dotrix and it certainly
couldn’t get anywhere near the low costs of the :Dotrix. Lyft has used this to their advantage
and grown market share due to their proactive relationship with brand owners and the benefits
that :Dotrix can offer.

Lyft creates value propositions that win new business

But the :Dotrix offers flexibility as well as speed and cost benefits. As Mark Caines adds, “Brand
owners can easily repurpose their packaging graphics into signage and display materials, and
produce these quickly on the digital press.” This allows fast and low-cost production of a
variety of support materials for the POS support market. These can include free-standing
inserts, retail-ready packaging, in-store banners and signage. These items can be produced
quickly on the :Dotrix, but without the :Dotrix they could take weeks to manufacture. The
variable data used in the :Dotrix digital production process allows for fast changes without any
need to stop the press, change plates, restart and the other inconveniences associated with
traditional press technology.

Speed and flexibility are two of the key drivers that have to be addressed by any packaging
printer hoping to succeed in the rapidly changing world of packaging. Brand owners are
looking to change and refresh their graphics quickly, reducing the development time of new
packaging. Warehouses full of printed inventory mean that brand owners have to wait to
change graphics and delay new marketing campaigns due to an oversupply of printed cartons.

Thanks to the Agfa :Dotrix that is changing fast. Printing with :Dotrix is quick; hours of make-ready
time are replaced by the touch of a button. Finished product takes only minutes to
manufacture, meaning that production can be left until the last possible moment. Lyft is able to
produce what they need when their client needs it, using a ‘just in time’ production model. This
ensures that neither Lyft nor their clients have money tied up in expensive supply chains
requiring cash to warehouse. It also minimises the risk of printed produce becoming obsolete.
These are increasingly important factors to many brand owners and print buyers who are
looking to strip out as much cost as possible from their packaging procurement. It also ensures
that brand owners can give their marketing campaigns immediate impact, responding quickly to
threats and opportunities with focused messages.

Environmental pressures are opportunities too

Packaging printers are under increasing pressure to improve their environmental credentials
and here the Agfa :Dotrix delivers important benefits. The Agfa designed and manufactured
UV inks are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dry instantly meaning they are
both easy to work with and are solvent free. Lyft actively seeks out eco-friendly printing
substrates such as ‘Green Choice board’. With consumers becoming increasingly
environmentally conscious this shift to ‘green’ values has paid dividends, as Caines adds: “We
have created a value proposition that differentiates us in the marketplace and has allowed us to
grow our business.”

Because the :Dotrix is digital it
can print whenever the print
buyer needs material, no
matter how short the run
length requirement. This is
good news for environmentally
aware print buyers who can
now print just what they need
when they need it, saving
materials and energy.
Because :Dotrix is digital it
requires neither aluminium
printing plates nor the
chemistry often used to
develop or gum them. Unlike
traditional press technology that often produces several hundred sheets of unusable waste
during press ‘make ready’ the :Dotrix produces good-quality print almost instantly – further
savings for the environment and significant waste reductions for the printer.

The trend to lower run lengths suits :Dotrix

Traditional flexo or UV offset printing is expensive and time-consuming to reach ‘make-ready’
on press. Historically that is not too important so long as the run lengths can stay long enough
to absorb these costs. However for some time the trend has been towards progressively
shorter and shorter runs; it is this trend that has allowed digital UV inkjet such as the :Dotrix to
find an important place in the market.

Caines adds: “Press run lengths are decreasing with each year that passes, a trend we all
expect will continue. That makes it harder to maintain profitability on a flexo press where there
are high prepping costs.” Trends like this have allowed the :Dotrix to become a genuinely cost-effective alternative to traditional press technology for mainstream production. But in addition
:Dotrix also offers the distinct advantage of a quick start up and flexibility that traditional offset
hasn’t been able to deliver due to the historic requirement for plates, skilled operators and the
limitations of running some substrates.

Agfa :Dotrix brings a package of important benefits

A conversation with Lyft COO Mark Caines leaves you in no doubt that Lyft Visual fully
understands the rapidly changing packaging market, and no doubt that they are extremely
impressed with the advantages that :Dotrix brings to them and their customers.

The :Dotrix combines the
functionality of high-speed,
high-quality inkjet on a proven
modular flexo base. In addition
to two flexo printing units
(before and after the print
heads), the press is roll feed,
with an inline rotary slitter and
an extended delivery with
jogger and stacker. “You get
the best of both worlds – the
functionality of digital
technology on a proven flexo
base that can run at high
speed, 24/7. The press has
four inkjet heads, with the ability to upgrade to six, a wide colour gamut, high resolution and low
maintenance costs,” explained Caines.

The press is equipped with a 300 dpi head, but the multi-level 8-bit grayscale technology
reproduces an apparent resolution of 900 dpi which delivers stunning colours on a par with
offset. Agfa’s North American account manager Kristof Dekeukelaere explains: “Seven gray
levels with seven different drop sizes from six to 42 picoliters give a sharp, high-quality image
with smooth skin tones and shadings.”

Lyft is the first Canadian company to have bought a :Dotrix, but as the trend towards digital
press technology continues, other packaging printers are sure to follow their lead.

More About This Company