A brand of the COMET Group, ebeam Technologies has just launched its new Inkjet Dryer, a new energy-curing system for the packaging of food brands that comes amid a range of new solutions. Ian Bland, vice-president of business development, and Elsa Callini, business development manager, discuss why the new technology is such a major step forward and what else is in the pipeline.
For ebeam, it was one of the main highlights of its attendance at the world-famous drupa fair: a potential client approached the booth with a roll of foil and asked if the company's solution would work as well on aluminium as it does on other materials.
"We tried it and it worked: perfect adhesion," says business development manager Elsa Callini. "We got a lot of interest; more than 70 people a day visited the booth, which was a great success for us, allowing us to talk with lots of people from different backgrounds."
This technical breakthrough, as Callini puts it, was a huge step forward for ebeam, specialist in creating solutions for curing and drying inks on surfaces of packaged goods, to take at drupa - and it marks just one of the many advances it has taken in the past few months.
One of the key technologies ebeam has recently unveiled is its Inkjet Dryer (EID), a new electron-beam (e-beam) curing system that enables food brands to mass-personalise products via food-safe inkjet printing. Many brands have long been aware of the marketing benefits of personalised product packaging - particularly when it comes to keeping on top of trends - but have harboured well-placed concerns about food contamination by toxic UV photoinitiators.
"Leading brands have dreamed of targeting their messaging to individuals in real time," explained the company's vice-president of business development, Ian Bland, on the release of the new technology. But the reason this hasn't happened, he argued, is the lack of availability of food-safe, jettable inks - an obstacle that Kao's Collins Inkjet and ebeam Technologies circumvent.
"EID-equipped inkjet printers eliminate that barrier," he said. "Inks are available. Hardware is available. If this industry behaves like others connected to e-beam, it will be a race to roll this out as quickly as possible. The only question is: who will move fastest? We look forward to meeting the innovators."
With a compact, sealed e-beam lamp that produces a precisely controlled beam of electrons to instantly cure inks, the new technology, it is said, represents the beginning of the mass personalisation of food packaging.
"Where e-beam curing was previously only available in the form of bulky, imposing, stand-alone systems, ebeam Technologies has changed the game with a radical innovation: a compact, sealed e-beam 'lamp'," said the company in its official statement. "This innovation has led to an explosion in new applications, as e-beam technology can now be integrated into various machines with ease. The new EID is just one example of this. The heart of the EID is a compact e-beam lamp, which operates without a vacuum pump and can be replaced in minutes."
The EID wasn't the only exciting innovation unveiled by ebeam Technologies and its partners at drupa. Its collaborator Uteco demonstrated an all-new system that brings together printing, laminating and curing into one process, getting rid of the need for lengthy drying and storage before conversion.
While it can't talk specifics just yet, ebeam Technologies also has a number of research projects in the pipeline that will capitalise on the industry's ongoing boom in 3D printing and the possibilities it offers for the company's products.
"We are constantly developing solutions for new market trends," adds Callini, "and working to be ready to serve the huge market of 3D printing. There's big hype at the moment about that."