Le Mac Buys Australia’s First Digital UV Inkjet Press

The Le Mac Australia Group were established in 1983 specialising in high-quality graphic
packaging including decorative packaging, multipacks and specialist bespoke packaging
solutions. They have grown continuously thanks to a philosophy of working in partnership with
their clients and an ability to
adapt to new and progressive
technologies in the packaging
industry. They have won
numerous awards for their
innovative approach to
packaging and are seen as a
regional leader, working with
successful and quality-conscious
blue chip clients such as Coca-
Cola, Unilever and Diageo.

Le Mac’s focus has been on
original high-quality packaging solutions for their clients. The company now offers one of the
widest and most diverse portfolio of products in the region and they have complemented their
high-tech operations through the purchase of an Agfa :Dotrix Modular digital UV press. This
has allowed them to print on a variety of different materials and the use of UV inks has given
them the best possible results in terms of colour depth, image quality, durability and speed of
production.

Le Mac: regional leader in flexible packaging and bottle labels

Le Mac are a leader in sleeve labels for bottles and offer a full range of products including
shrink sleeve, stretch sleeve and
tamper-evident labels as well as
a variety of decorative,
promotional and roll-fed label
products. Le Mac manufacture a
variety of flexible packaging
products in addition to bottle
labels and are also seeing
growth in the POS/POP market.
Although Le Mac have been
successful and grown year-on-year
their market has been far
from easy as Ken Fletcher, Le
Mac’s production director,
explained. “We have printed UV
flexo since 1998 but run lengths have been falling steadily; jobs that were once 30,000 running metres are now down nearer to
10,000 running metres and still dropping. Print buyers and brand owners are looking to buy
smaller quantities more frequently, change things more often for special promotions and do all
this with shorter lead times. Traditional flexo is not designed to do all that but it is what digital
UV was made for.”

Le Mac’s clients are world-famous brands that demand the
best quality, most attractive and
functional packaging at the best
possible price. Keeping up with
the demands at the top end of
the market is tough work, but
Fletcher has been tracking
developments in digital press
technology for some time. “UV
ink technology is a must for
many of our products. We
needed a system that was
designed around UV and the
Agfa :Dotrix Modular was just
what we needed. It’s built on a
genuine Edale UV press chassis. It looks and feels like a UV press but the ink is applied
through a single pass inkjet system instead of rollers,” added Fletcher, who installed his first
Agfa :Dotrix Modular in early 2010.

Initially Le Mac used the :Dotrix Modular as the automatic choice for all jobs under 5,000
running metres. “We have shown the :Dotrix output to our customers and they like what they
see,” said Fletcher. “The quality of the :Dotrix production is the same from start to finish. Flexo
printing has to be done carefully to ensure stable colour density and register. With Dotrix, ink
density issues or colour mis-register problems can’t occur. The UV colours are applied in a
single pass guaranteeing register and the density is digitally controlled. :Dotrix Modular allows
us to tackle the shorter/medium run work
where flexo can struggle due to the time
and cost needed to make plates and set
the press up.”

Agfa :Dotrix Modular gives Le Mac a
unique advantage

Le Mac’s clients are already asking about
using existing graphics on other
promotional material such as store
signage, promotional POS/POP displays
and banners. Variable data is also an
important tool that Le Mac feel will save
time and money, as Ken Fletcher explained: “If we wanted to add a promotional ‘flash’
across an existing job we can do it in
seconds on the :Dotrix. But with flexo it
would have been expensive and time-consuming to remake several plates and
stop the press. The trend to variable data
is an important one which will allow us to
stand out from the crowd with fast
response times and personalisation of
product labels. The :Dotrix is our unique
selling point.”

The choice of :Dotrix offers critical benefits
when it comes to posters, banners and
POS/POP signage. Not only does the
:Dotrix give a full 65cm web width (double the width of some digital presses) but the :Dotrix
applies ink without the need for the transfer roller used in toner systems. It is the
circumference of the transfer roller that sets limits to the length of the image that can be printed
with toner press systems, but :Dotrix eliminates the need for a transfer roller since it is a digital
UV inkjet press. :Dotrix can print posters and signage of any length required without any
seams.

Agfa’s new :Agorix low migration inks

Le Mac are Agfa’s first user of its new :Agorix low migration (LM) UV inks. These inks are
designed to adhere to the surface of the printing substrate without penetrating through it. This
is an important property that allows the :Agorix inks to pass stringent standards in demanding
food packaging or pharmaceutical packaging applications and is another area where Le Mac
expect strong growth. Because the Dotrix is built on a standard UV press chassis it is modular and easy to integrate
with any other desired systems.

In the case of Le Mac two extra stations were added to the
:Dotrix after the single pass ink jet colour engine. One is a coater which can be used for
applying specialised water based metallic inks with a standard flexo plate. These specialist
inks are important for high-end labels and give a premium quality appearance and feel to the
product. The second station is a cold foil/lamination unit. This can allow either a lamination
over the substrate, or it can be used in conjunction with a standard flexo plate to allow coldfoiling
with a UV glue. This station allows Le Mac to create some stunning foiling effects to
complement their quality designs. The cold foil/lamination integration with the :Dotrix is another
world first for Le Mac, who have a digital press configuration that is as versatile as it is effective.
The design is servo-driven ensuring that the entire system operates together with total
synchronisation.

Digital UV inkjet cuts waste

Environmental pressures are increasingly important in the Australian print market and the
:Dotrix Modular is helping Le Mac cut waste dramatically. With a typical flexo press there are
several hundred metres of waste produced at start up, and with the trend towards shorter press
runs (and more of them) the result would normally be a significant rise in waste. However the
:Dotrix Modular has no start-up waste; it doesn’t need to stop between jobs since it switches
between them while maintaining full production speed of 1,210m²/hr.

As Ken Fletcher reflects on his purchase he feels the choice of the :Dotrix Modular UV digital
inkjet was the right one to meet the new challenges and opportunities that Le Mac face if they
are to maintain their position as a leading supplier to world class clients. Fletcher concludes by
saying: “Even though it’s early days for us with the :Dotrix Modular, the Agfa team have been
professional and easy to work with. So far we are delighted with what we have seen.”

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