LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 19, 2015 (Press Release) -
Carton and label maker Vrijdag Premium Printing takes delivery of a BOBST MASTERFOIL - continuing its tradition of using innovation to achieve ever-better quality.
"The long history of Vrijdag gives us knowledge and stability," says Henk Nota, Managing Director of the Dutch company, "but this new machine is part of our future and it is a future of innovation and efficiency.
Perhaps to emphasize the point, the company's new MASTERFOIL 106 PR, arguably the most technologically advanced hot foil stamping press available today, has pride of place at the very center of Vrijdag Premium Printing's main plant. "This implementation is part of a larger plan," says Mr Nota. "We are a company that is investing in speed, investing in reliability and efficiency, and investing in the best available equipment, while also capitalizing on a heritage which gives us the confidence to take from the past those things that have been shown to be successful."
Mr Nota says that the company sees its mission as helping its customers become the consumer's preferred brand. "We believe that with our techniques we can add the eye appeal to packaging that will help consumers decide to buy our customers' products. To keep doing this we need modern equipment, modern ways of managing and we need systems that support efficiency."
Efficiency was, says Mr Nota, a key reason for buying the MASTERFOIL 106 PR. "Before this investment we had older machines with lower speeds. We could see an increase in business as regards foil, so we were at a crossroads where we had to decide to invest in more people and to run the machines longer every day, or to install newer, more efficient equipment that would also push quality forward."
Vrijdag chose the latter route, deciding that it was the right time to modernize a process that had become a very important part of their production portfolio. "A lot of the packaging and labels we produce include foil. As well as efficiency and quality we also had to consider flexibility. With the MASTERFOIL we were able to move from two machines to just one and yet still have spare capacity. So it turned out to be a very logical move.
The MASTERFOIL 106 PR is a size 3B hot-foil stamping press that includes a number of innovative features. Alongside a running speed of 8'000 sheets per hour the press also utilizes a development called Foil Touch, which BOBST say results in better foiling quality at high speeds, yet needs less heat and lower pressure. The system revolves around a completely rethought platen concept and a redesigned lower beam movement system. Robert Wynands, one of the MASTERFOIL operators at Vrijdag, says that the system gives the sheet longer at standstill, so it has more time in contact with the foil and the dies/ clichés. "It means we get very sharp details with lower temperatures and less pressure. Also we found that our clichés last longer," he says.
This longer dwell time means that some jobs, which on the older equipment required two runs - one to foil and one to emboss, can now be produced in a single run, making a considerable saving in processing time. Capable of running substrates from 70 gsm paper up to 2'000 gsm carton board, Mr Wynands says that the consistency of the MASTERFOIL when running paper at high speed has impressed him. "When our old machine was embossing and foiling paper labels, sometimes the embossing could be too strong. The MASTERFOIL is very consistent. Every sheet is the same."
Adding to this, the Power Register II system on the MASTERFOIL ensures highly accurate foil to print registration on every sheet. This is achieved thanks to sophisticated high-speed cameras and powerful real-time data processing. As the sheet is taken under the control of the system, its cameras identify the sheet's exact location, adjusting it on the fly for perfect positioning in the MASTERFOIL infeed.
Taken together, the Foil Touch and Power Register II systems of the MASTERFOIL not only ensure considerably improved productivity, they also enhance quality, says Mr Nota. "We're not only removing a process in some cases, but the accuracy of register on the MASTERFOIL means that it is easier for us to achieve the high quality products we are known for - because foiling and embossing are done at the same time and the Power Register controls the register to print."
Joan Coenen, another of Vrijdag's MASTERFOIL team, says that it is also an easier machine to set and is more consistent on the run, partly thanks to its BOBST "Easy Foil" system. "The foil is fed from outside. You no longer have to go inside the machine, so it's much easier. Also there is less manual handling - it is easy to get very big rolls onto the bars in the foil cabinet," he explains. "And the system auto-adjusts for the diameter of the roll, so the operator does not have to do that."
Situated close to central Eindhoven in the southerly Brabant province of the Netherlands, Vrijdag Premium Printing is a family owned company that can trace its heritage back over a century. First established in 1905 by Louis Vrijdag, the grandfather of the present owner, the company was initially established to print reproductions of sheet music for local choirs. Soon, however, the needs of a very different local industry came to be Vrijdag's main market - tobacco products.
The incredible level of detail visible in samples of the company's work from 1928 has remained the cornerstone of Vrijdag's success, says Mr Nota. "This is where we believe we are different from the rest. This is a level of detail that we have in our DNA right up to today. It's our people, it's the materials we choose, and it's the machinery we use. That's why we bought the MASTERFOIL - it allows us to do this kind of stuff and more."
Today Vrijdag Premium Printing produces labels and packaging for many well-known brands all over the world. With tobacco packaging as a key market, it supplies manufacturers of machine-made cigars in Europe and the USA, along with the many hand-rolled cigar suppliers in the Caribbean. Other important markets for the company include spirits, confectionery and high-end gift packaging.
Mr Nota believes that Vrijdag Premium Printing has characteristics that make it stand out in the industry. "Firstly we are able to make paper and board very beautiful. We have different techniques for that - gravure printing, offset printing, UV varnishes, conventional and softer varnishes, bronzing, embossing and foiling. Using these techniques we create life in the product, which strikes you on the shelf."
Then there is quality. "We have a strong passion for what we do. It's a heritage we have received from everyone who has ever worked at this company and it is something we are very proud of. But it's also something you have to maintain. Use the heritage and make it modern."
It is with exactly this approach in mind that today Vrijdag is creating a contemporary equivalent of its 1928 sample book using the latest digital technology. Exploiting its huge back catalogue of tobacco brand designs - which is so big that it founded its own museum of lithography to give the public access to them - the company has just launched www.vrijdag-design.com, an online portal for brand owners to design packaging and labels for the tobacco industry.
The cigar industry tends to want boxes, labels and bands with a particular look, generally ones that suggests heritage, quality and, perhaps, indulgence, says Mr Nota. "Our portal allows brand owners to look through the wonderful designs from brands that no longer exist, to get inspired and to take the elements they like so we can design new packaging for them. It's another example of how we try to be on the forefront of technology without losing sight of our heritage."
Along with the MASTERFOIL and the Vrijdag Design portal, Mr Nota also points to another innovation investment by the company: a highly automated assembling line for shoulder boxes, the so called V-Box concept.
Staff at all levels were involved in the decision making process for the new hot-foil stamper. "We made some comparisons between the machines of two leading manufacturers, using a team which included operators, technical staff and production management. The MASTERFOIL is relatively new, but is also proven. For us it was the best and we already had a long experience with BOBST who have shown themselves to be very reliable as a partner."
Mr Nota and his team have set challenging targets for the new MASTERFOIL - both in speed and set-up times. With the machine recently installed it is early days yet, but Mr Nota says the MASTERFOIL is well on the way to meeting these expectations.
The Dutch Museum of Lithography is the world's only museum solely dedicated to the evolution of lithographic, or stone, printing right up to the current micro-lithography. Established in 2001, the museum's collection of printed items was brought together by its founder, Peter-Louis Vrijdag of Vrijdag Premium Printing. The collection includes book illustrations, maps, posters, packaging, musical scores and playing cards, as well as labels, picture postcards, art prints, caricatures, satirical magazines, children's toys and printed images on tins. Among the items are works by well-respected European artists such as Jan Toorop, Kees van Dongen, Alphonse Mucha, Adolphe Willette and Jan Sluyters. Through the collection, visitors can explore the historical, technical and cultural role of lithography and can also see ‘stone printing' demonstrations in the museum's workshop.
The Dutch Museum of Lithography / Nederlands Steendrukmuseum is located at Valkenswaard, Netherlands.