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Europe: KHS expands facility for direct print innovation

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The KHS Group has provided approximately 1,000 sqm of space for the Direct Print innovation team, which “is fully-engaged in bringing digital print disruptive technology to the filling and packaging environment,” says Martin Schach, head of printing technology.

“Due to the modularity of the Direct Print industrial platform and our location in the largest KHS manufacturing facility, we will apply latest KHS equipment design and assembly practices in order to scale our industrial platforms to market demand in real time.”

The Direct Print space includes an area for sample printing, as well as for industrial validation platforms for confirmation and extended testing of new features such as bottle orientation, print inspection, ink management, specialized design materials and verification of controls and new components.

The engineering team can test each new parameter industrially before taking them to the field.

The software engineers are completing the Direct Print artworks management software platform which will enable brand owners to change decorations within minutes, and also leverage variable image capability at industrial speeds of 12,000 up to 36,000 bottles per hour.

“Direct Print dedicated artworks specialists are finding new ways to implement printing techniques to PET bottles which are only possible with digital inkjet,” says Katrin Preckel, who leads the printing team.

“Those capabilities will be key parameters of our artworks management platform, with dedicated customer specific space in the cloud for each Direct Print Powered by KHS customer.”

The Direct Print solution is a combination of specially co-developed low-migration light emitting device-ultra violet cured inks from AGFA Graphics, which are jetted by print heads to bond to the untreated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle surface, yet are approved for PET bottle-to-bottle recycling. Direct Print is a combination of inks, print heads, software, sample printers and industrial scale technology.

The Direct Print team will implement the next generation ‘Pilot Series’ industrial printer at Martens Brewery in Belgium within the next few weeks.