More than two years of development work are paying off at plastics packaging processor M&H. The company now is able to offer its customers, many of them suppliers of cosmetics or personal care products, plastic tubes printed with photo-realistic imagery.
For the processor, as well as its customers, the printing technology offers three main benefits: the quality of the image is improved, no labels are needed, and recycling is eased (as there is no label). Plastic tubes often are decorated with dry offset printing rather than labels, but the quality of the graphics is limited.
The two photos illustrate the quality of the image generated on M&H's tubes. One photo (top) shows black tubes with photographs of a woman's face printed directly onto them, and the other tubes with a fabric-look label. The 'Miss N' Next range of products with the fabric-look label was launched late last year.
In answer to questions from MPW, Vicki John, marketing manager at the processor, said that the company purchased a new hybrid print press which offers a combination of flexographic and silk screen printing which can print a high level of detail and tonal values. Commenting on the graphics used on the tubes shown in these two photos, she explained, "Previously we would have to have used a label. We are therefore offering label quality printing without the need to label." M&H will not reveal the name of the company that manufactured its tube printing machinery as it does not want to concede this competitive advantage, she added.
M&H says the tube processing line coupled with the printing machinery can manufacture and decorate up to a million tubes a week. So far the processor offers this technology only from its U.K. operation; it also has a facility in the U.S.
The printing equipment can be economically used for short or long production runs, reports M&H. The tubes M&H processes are all polyethylene. The company also offers printing of its blowmolded bottles and injection molded jars; however the new hybrid press is only on the tube line. The tubes are available in any color, white, or transparent, plus with special effects.