Case study: Takara Pac’s faith in flexo pays off

TAKARA PAC LTD. was founded as a sales company of adhesive cellophane tapes in 1955. The company was established in Kyoto (Japan) and used intermittent letterpress as their main printing technology. 

Printing and processing of adhesive labels evolved over the years since, with the accumulation of unique technology and a focus on developing packaging materials, (mainly adhesive), with labour-saving machines.

With a strong, ever-present consideration of the user, Takara Pac stands by their motto and management philosophy: ‘The importance of humans’.

Today, Takara Pac’s printing operations are divided by technologies, with Takara Printing operating flexo and digital printing machines (located in Yokohama city) and Kansai Takara Printing running platen presses, intermittent letterpress machines, and rotary letterpress equipment (located in Osaka city).

The first flexo seed

It was back in the 1960s when Takara Pac’s predecessor president went to the United States of America to learn about flexo printing and flexo plates (rubber) at press manufacturer Thorn.

In 1967, Takara Pac installed their first Thorn flexo machine (4-colour press) in Japan.

However, they could not run production on this press because high quality flexo rubber plates could not be made locally.

Another 4-colour Thorn flexo press was purchased in 1973. But the print quality of labels printed on this press was not consistent, and reputation of this press within the company was not positive.

It took two years for Takara Pac to overcome unstable print quality on their flexo press, and educate employees about flexo print technology and the benefits it brings.

Introduction of UV ink in label printing

In the latter half of 1970, a local press manufacturer in Japan started selling rotary letterpress machines with UV ink. Letterpress machines soon dominated the label printing industry in Japan.

However, Takara Pac kept the faith of their president’s predecessor and his beliefs in flexo printing:

  • Flexo presses run faster
  • When using low viscosity, quick-drying properties of solvent ink and anilox roll-transfer inks, stable colour is printed on the substrate

The 1990s brought development of UV ink for flexo printing in Japan.

With the newly developed UV flexo ink, flexo presses and peripheral equipment (such as anilox rolls) and flexo plate technology developed respectively.

Label printers could finally print process colour printing on flexo presses, with ease.

MPS EC press at Takara Pac

Division of Takara Pac print jobs

Label print jobs between Takara Printing and Kansai Takara Printing are determined by the customer (brand owner).

The following criteria influences the decision within their operations department:

  • Delivery time
  • Design
  • Difficult die cutting jobs (printed with flexo)
  • Cold foil applied to the label (this goes to flexo)
  • Finishing after printing on the machine (special finishing is easier to be done with in-line finishing than off-line finishing)

Flexo advantages

When using their letterpress machines for label printing, Takara Pac has found the following challenges:

  • Unable to print cold foil in-line
  • Printing labels only and needing separate finishing equipment
  • More time and machine operator expertise are necessary for proper printing, such as special skills for inking zone adjustment at inking unit
  • Colour matching, adjustment, and colour stabilization on letterpress machines are difficult to manage

Through the acquisition of a number of flexo equipment, now including two MPS flexo presses, Takara Pac is very well-versed in flexo label printing, also winning top prize in the flexographic printer category of the World Label Competition.

What they’ve discovered with flexo printing, is that once the operator is used to mastering a flexo press and handling anilox rolls, they are very comfortable running print jobs.

Other advantages Takara Pac has experienced in flexo printing vs. letterpress are: 

  • Less ink consumption
  • Easier to clean equipment
  • High-quality label finishing (inline finishing with single-pass printing)

More information?

If you would like to know more about letterpress – or flexo printing, download our free whitepaper.

If you would like to further discuss options for your own business, please contact us. letterpress vs flexo whitepaper MPS Systems

Leopold der Nederlanden, Manager Trainings Centre:

Takara Pac

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