Soma Engineering has won the prestigious FlexoTech Innovations Award with its new ink cartridge system for spot colour printing on CI flexographic printing presses.

The Award was accepted by Anton Mitchell of Engelmann and Buckham, the company’s representative in the UK and David Stevens, Market Development Manager of Soma, at a gala dinner and ceremony held at London’s Hilton Hotel.

Developed in conjunction with the launch of its new 800 mm wide, Soma Optima printing press, the ink cartridge system offers printers a means of reducing ink costs on printing jobs where expensive spot colours, special effect and metallic formulations are required. These high pigment inks are expensive and reducing ink volumes and residual waste enables printers to maintain profit margins while meeting end user price demands.

Neel Madsen, Editor of the FlexoTech magazine, said, “The Soma ink cartridge was assessed by judges as a unique system of reducing waste while at the same time improving productivity. Our judges look for products that are truly innovative and can make a real difference to the user. They were impressed with the ink savings the system offers, the impact on sustainability and the cost reductions that can be achieved.”

The entry submitted included an example costing to produce a beer label printed through flexography for a Czech Republic based beer producer. The seven colour job was produced using solvent-based ink, CMYK + Pantone 485, Pantone orange and silver that was surface printed on a 75 microns lye-resistant, 600mm wide paper substrate. The targeted printing speed was 300 m/min with a print repeat of 400mm, three labels across and around. This short run job of 400,000 labels had an estimated production time of 60 minutes. Following preparation of the press for this job the ink pumps were primed with CMYK and spot colours. The minimum volume of ink per colour in the system including doctor blade, ink hoses and ink bucket was 6 litres per colour, plus ink to print 400,000 labels. When the print run was completed the 6 litres of ink per colour was returned to the ink bucket. A feasible process for CMYK inks, but not for Pantone spot colours or expensive metallic formulations that cover less than 1% of the print area. Using the ink cartridge system for the spot colours reduced ink waste with considerable savings.

“This Award reflects the dedication of Soma and its design and manufacturing team in taking flexographic printing to the highest standards of quality,” states Mitchell. “We know the standard of judging for this Award is high and are all delighted with this achievement.”

The Soma ink cartridge is patent pending and is suitable for water-based, solvent-based and UV curable inks and fixes easily and quickly on the doctor blade chamber cross beam without tooling. The system was launched following extensive Beta testing at Czech Republic based printers, Tiskarna Casia Trutnov, Ltd., a long standing, Soma customer with two SomaFlex flexographic printing presses equipped with UV curing systems. The Soma ink cartridgeis available for both new and existing Soma press installations and includes integrated viscosity control and wash-up with touch screen control to each printing deck.