by Filip Weymans
Founded in 2009, Etiflex S.C. specialised in the production of self-adhesive labels using flexographic technology from its inception. Initially, it utilised a single 4-colour printing machine which used water-based inks. Over the years that followed, the equipment resources were expanded to include a 6-colour machine using the same technology, and production was supported by two cutting machines and one cutting and rewinding machine.
During this period, the primary customers of Etiflex were companies operating in the food industry, production of small household appliances and, to a limited extent, the automotive industry. The aforementioned equipment resources did not, however, provide sufficient production capacity and quality to compete on a wider scale in the market for adhesive labels. The real breakthrough in the company’s history was its 2017 acquisition by the present-day owners, Przemysław Wagner and Karol Kuligowski of a completely new production and technological concept to thoroughly rebuild Etiflex, both in terms of the equipment resources and production staff. The ﬂexographic machines the company owned were replaced by a 6-colour water-based technology machine and an 8-colour UV machine. Moreover, the equipment resources were enriched with a digital printing machine employing electrophotographic technology. The whole rebuild was completed with 2 rewinding machines and a cutting and rewinding machine. Modern equipment resources and the introduction of digital technology within the company significantly contributed to the expansion of the addressable customer portfolio thanks to the ability of flexographic printing which was much better quality than before, and high quality digital printing allowing the company to acquire customers from new sectors of the market for self-adhesive labels.
We are open to the need of our customers
“We offer our customers both UV- and water-based flexographic printing on a wide range of substrates, from semi-gloss paper finish types through wine label paper products, PP and PE films to eco-friendly and special-purpose substrates,” says Przemysław Wagner, co-owner of Etiflex S.C. acting as the production director in the company. “Including the water-based ink option allows ups to produce labels that are safe for food contact. We can also print white on clear-on-clear films; and with an undercoat, we can print on the adhesive side. We can also print labels that are full bleed or with inks applied selectively, with both matte and glossy ink finishes, laminated and gilded using cold-stamping technology. We also make labels using digital technology with similar refinement options. In addition, due to our ability to print on both sides of the substrate in white, we are able to achieve a sieve effect on our digital labels. Our advanced software means that we can offer our customers the option to use variable data not only in black, but also in colour, with practically no restrictions as to the type of graphic item that is changed.”
“We are a team of people with up to 30 years of experience in the industry. As a result, we are not only able to professionally serve our customers but also to advise them on technologically optimal and cost-effective solutions for every type of label application,” adds Karol Kuligowski, second co-owner and sales director. “This translates into a superior customer experience not only with the final product received, but also with the level of costs they need to incur in order to achieve the effect they want. Our openness to the needs of our customers and a flexible approach to their individual requirements means that we can offer the service that our customers require and need. This is true both with regard to order delivery times and the requirements related to technology or design. Our team is composed of creative people with an unconventional way of thinking, which translates into interesting ideas and projects. Among the interesting technological and design solutions this approach created, we recall a Baltic porter label made for Dobry Browar and submitted to this year’s edition of the Art of Packaging contest, where multi-level structures imitating screen printing were used.”
Because of the dynamic growth of the digital label department, another need emerged to expand the equipment resources by adding yet another printing machine. “The impetus for this investment came primarily from the need to increase productivity in this sector of our production and lower the costs in order to meet the expectations we encountered in the market,” Przemysław Wagner explains. “We chose the Xeikon PX3000 UV inkjet printing press, which allowed us not only to increase productivity in the digital label department, but also – due to its ability to print white with high optical density – to expand the group of customers we serve to more branches of the industry. The superior results achieved with the designs we printed during our very detailed tests at the Xeikon facility in Lier and the flexible approach in constructing the offer convinced us that the purchase of this particular machine was the most effective for us. When looking for a UV inkjet printing machine, we talked to a number of companies who offer this type of device, but it was only during our talks with Xeikon that we felt our needs and requirements were a priority. This led to a satisfactory compromise for both parties involved, which ultimately resulted in our purchasing of the Xeikon PX3000 system. The individual approach to the customer taken by the Xeikon team at every stage of the talks, from the presentation of the machine to contract negotiation, convinced us that their offer was exactly what we were looking for. Among other important advantages of Xeikon’s offer, we appreciated the good printing speed, superior whiteness with a single ink layer, high cost efficiency and the attractive service contract terms.”
Przemysław Wagner: Among the key advantages of Xeikon’s offer, we appreciated the good printing speed, superior whiteness with a single ink layer, high cost efficiency and the attractive service contract terms
We chose a printing machine with print width of 330 mm as it guarantees the optimal use of raw material to cater to the characteristic needs of our orders,” adds Piotr Smoliński, third co-owner and director for flexo at Etiflex S.C. “Our machine prints in 5 colours – CMYK and white, which greatly extends the spectrum of printing substrates that we can offer to our customers and allows us to make labels using digital technology for the market segments that have not been available to us before; for example, cosmetics products. In addition, we have recently configured our machine to include side band readers, which read from top to bottom and bottom to top, allowing us to optimise our production costs even more by using hybrid printing or enriching flexographic printing with additional elements, such as variable data, in both images and text.”
Apart from the new production line, a semi-rotary machine for label cutting and refining was installed, and Etiflex has significantly extended the scope of its collaboration with companies from previously served industries to include craft breweries, juice and beverage producers, and it has acquired more customers from the automotive industry as well as offered its services to other markets, including the cosmetics market.
“Adding digital printing technology has changed our company by optimising our production costs and being able to offer our customers more attractive terms while maintaining high printing quality. Thanks to the better performance of the Xeikon PX3000 compared to our previous digital machine, and the good printing quality and lower production costs provided by the UV inkjet technology, we have managed to achieve this goal,” concludes the co-owners of Etiflex commenting on the investment. “At the same time, we have significantly increased our production capacity which translated into shorter delivery times. Thanks to the Xeikon PX3000, we have successfully acquired a significant number of new customers who print on clear-on-clear substrates and other transparent films. Our customers particularly appreciate the high coverage white ink produced by our machine, which ensures optimal printing results.”
Passion, collaboration, personal, commitment
“The co-owners of Etiflex have extensive experience connected with software, consumables, printing technologies, printing machinery, its installation and service”, admits Michał Kuczkowski, sales manager at Xeikon. “Their knowledge of the market is really impressive. Already at the first meeting, it was evident what they expected, what they were interested in and what their plans were. In retrospect, you can see how precise they were in bringing their goals to fruition. The results achieved by Etiflex, including the printed quantities they have generated, exactly match the plan they developed during the pre-sale period. Despite all the difficulties that have affected the entire industry, such as shortages of raw material on the market, delays in supply chains or increased prices, they are constantly developing and increasing their production. Depending on the type of enquiry, they can offer their customers the most suitable of the three printing techniques: digital inkjet printing, digital toner printing or conventional flexo printing. I am happy that the Xeikon PX3000 digital inkjet press is cost competitive with the other technologies and the press is able to take on certain orders that, until recently, would have been automatically processed using a conventional printing process. Recently, Etiflex has intensively utilised the additional capabilities of the Xeikon press, doing so in a very creative way and achieving rare and attractive haptic effects on labels. I am looking forward to observing future projects and plans of Etiflex which highlight their passion, collaboration and personal commitment.”
Currently, Etiflex focuses on maximising the potential of its equipment resources and is analysing further opportunities and potential markets to which it could offer its services. This is inextricably linked to further technological growth which will allow the printing house from Poznań to offer an even wider range of products, including those that go beyond the market of self-adhesive labels.