By Lindy Hughes | 21 July 2023
Orora Beverage is installing the region’s first Velox digital, high-speed, full-colour, can printing system, enabling customisation of can design and decoration, and fast speed to market for new products and promotions.
The first digital printer will be installed at Orora’s can production facility in Dandenong, where Orora currently decorates cans with traditional high-speed offset decoration processes. The two processes – offset and digital – will run side-by-side.
Orora just signed a contract with Velox, a global provider based in Israel, to supply their new direct-to shape digital printing solution. Orora is purchasing Velox digital printers, inks, and consumables. Orora began marketing its new service Helio by Orora. The use of aluminum cans for beverages is increasing rapidly. This is due to their almost unlimited ability to be recycled.
Velox’s DTS Direct-to-Shape Solution uses two proprietary core technologies to print high-resolution full-colour images, text and shapes directly onto any material and shape at high volumes: Adaptive Deposition Architecture (ADA) and Variable-Viscosity Ink.
The company says its Adaptive Deposition Architecture is an innovative approach, designed for high-speed, high-accuracy, transfer of ink to container surfaces, at almost any speed, delivering “high resolution images and precise colour matching”.
Variable Viscosity Ink is a specially formulated family of digital UV inks that the company claims delivers “unprecedented printing quality and versatility”. The company says the tech minimises the trade-off between print quality and ink coverage efficiency, enabling versatile decoration, and “exceptionally vivid and intense process colours with controlled opacity”, any container material or coating.
Velox states that inks have improved adhesion as well other functional properties like low migration, scratch resistance and heat resistance.
Chris Smith, General Manager Orora Beverage Cans said Print21 Digital printing will complement offset printing and provide a faster turnaround time from design to completion, as the printing plates no longer need to be produced.
Smith explained that Velox will increase operational flexibility and reduce inventory overproduction by catering to smaller quantities. He is quick in pointing out that this technology’s use is not limited to small runs. The ability to randomise indefinitely allows large-scale activations.
The introduction of Helio adds to the company’s significant investment in cans capacity expansion – in June this year Orora completed construction of an $80m multi-size can line at the Dandenong site.
The new line, which increases production capacity by around 10 per cent, and allows for the manufacture of varying can sizes and formats, combined with the high-speed Helio digital print capability, strengthens significantly Orora’s position to meet the surging growth in demand for beverage cans.
Smith said, “This digital decoration solution will complement and capitalise on the investment at Dandenong, signifying a step change to our leadership in can decoration. This technology will complement our existing expertise in pre-press and innovation.
“We have been assessing the development of direct-to-shape digital decoration technology for cans for some time,” he added.
“Velox has proven capability and holds numerous patents for this technology. Orora has worked with Velox to review trial materials and inspect machines at its site in Israel.”
The new line is expected to be operational by the third quarter of next year. Smith explained that Orora launched Helio because they are already in discussions with brand owners about summer campaigns next year.
“Our role in primary packaging is to help our brand owners engage the shopper at the point of purchase. Helio and the Velox solution will transform our ability to do this for our customer’s brands,” he said.
“Once commissioned, what this means for our customers is that wait time will be significantly reduced in delivering a specific can size or label design for activities such as promotions, new products and limited-edition retail events. With no label set-up required and near-immediate supply, shorter, faster minimum runs can be accommodated, providing greater flexibility in product and campaign planning.”
Commenting on growth in the aluminium cans market, Smith said, “We are seeing the demand for aluminium cans continue to grow, with particularly exciting developments across a number of categories including craft beer, soft drinks, RTDs and seltzers. Cans are a terrific sustainable, packaging option, convenient for many occasions and most importantly, produced from aluminium containing recycled content, with the can itself being infinitely recyclable.”
The can production capacity is being expanded. In March, a $30m expansion project at Ballarat to increase can-end capacity was completed. A new $85M line is under construction at Revesby in NSW and will be ready by the first quarter of 2025.
Smith said, “We know that can graphic design and decoration is a critical tool for engaging consumers – with strong in-house can decoration capability, the Helio solution enabled by high-speed, direct-to-shape digital printing, adds even greater value to Orora’s service offering for its customers.”
Velox was founded by Marian and Adrian Cofler a decade before. In two years, it had built its prototype and by 2017, a beta-system was in operation. In the following year, it installed its tube printing system. In 2021 the company teamed up Crown Holdings for digital decoration on aluminium cans with necks.
Velox is another innovation from Israel. The country has been a leader in digital printing, with technologies such as HP Indigo and Highcon digital die-cutters, Scodix, Landa Nano, and Kornit, among others.
Velox’s advisory board is led by Dr Petra Severit. She is the CTO of Altana Coatings, which owns a large stake in Landa and, since 2018, a stake Velox. Altana belongs to Susanne Klatten who is the richest German woman with an estimated fortune worth US$26bn.