Thai: Narrow-web flex pack expert expands business

Labelsunlimited has made a successful business printing flexible packaging on narrow web presses. Now with a factory move and another new press installed, the company is driving forward. Labels&Labeling reports

UK converter Labelsunlimited has installed a second Nilpeter FA-4* press and moved into a remodeled and expanded factory space, building the company’s focus on value-added flexible packaging and specialty labeling, including peel & read labels. 

“Labelsunlimited has seen increasing growth in our flexible packaging market, across many sectors,” says Managing Director Marc Bradley. “Combined with our move into new premises, we ordered our second FA-4*, a 9-color build, which is a dedicated filmic press with further specialized ancillary equipment.”

Bradley continues, “The decision to order another FA-4* was simple, after the way the first FA-4* has performed for us. The press is incredibly accurate in terms of printing and print register, and the way it performs against all of our substrate requirements is remarkable. The press is highly efficient on quick changeover short run work, but is then also extremely stable on longer running work – so all in all an excellent press for our business model.”

Labelsunlimited moved into the new factory unit in April and within one month was re-accredited to BRC/IOP food grade certification (version 5 high risk, to a double A standard) – essential for the flexible packaging work which forms the core of the company’s business. “This was also while satisfying our clients’ MHRA accreditations for the new premises,” says Bradley. An important part of the set-up is implementation of a fully low migration (LM) regime. Each of the presses is set up for low migration work along with all inks and materials. “The LM cleaning regime for our anilox rollers is handled by a FlexoMaid system,” says Bradley. “This gives us a green alternative against the industry norm, with a cell clearance unlike anything we have seen before – ideal for colour calibration and control.” 

Value-added packaging 

With more label converters looking to the flexible packaging market to expand their business reach, Darren Kaye, business development director at Labelsunlimited, stresses the complexity involved.

“We print on over 12 different laminates and base webs and we can be changing these over between 3-4 times per day. Many companies are unaware of the complexities afforded within these materials and this is where a lot of companies will fall foul – there are many, very expensive lessons to learn and mistakes to be made.” But Kaye also points out the benefits of being able to produce multiple material lines for specific market sectors. “Our customers can be using various packaging and label materials. We can help make it easier for them: they can buy their sachets, top webs and labels from one supplier and we make sure colours are matched across the range to ensure brand image consistency. There are big variations in the surface properties of flexible packaging materials. The surface can be filmic gloss or matt or pearlized, you name it, and each requires careful handling, control and management.”

With its expert knowledge of unsupported film materials, Labelsunlimited tries to be in at an early stage in the design process. “We work best where there is a handover from someone who can work with the printer directly, where we can talk to customers at the right level and offer savings by getting everything right first time,” says Kaye.

Getting it right

‘We have stuck to a specific business plan of niche value added flexible packaging and peel & read labels, which has attracted new people to our business. People are starting to come to us because they want to be a part of our journey,’ says Bradley. Kaye adds, “Buyers want to see the owner talking and selling their own enthusiasm, and that’s what we do well.”