Finalist interview: the Cyclone C4+ direct digital can printing system | Article


Tonejet’s Cyclone C4+, a direct digital can printing system that replaces labels and shrink sleeves, has been shortlisted in the Machinery category of the 2022 Sustainability Awards. We caught up with Tonejet to learn more about the solution, which helps to ensure that aluminum beverage cans remain recyclable after printing and labeling.

You are a finalist for the 2022 Sustainability Awards. Congratulations! To start, could you summarize your entry, Cyclone C4+, in less than 50 words?

Cyclone C4+ is a direct digital can printing system that replaces pressure sensitive labels and shrink sleeves for short run beverage can decoration. The system prints directly on the can which remains 100% recyclable. Brewers will cut costs, save time, and eliminate the need to wrap cans in plastic!

Why do you think the judges were impressed with your entry? Tell us about what is innovative about your project and/or its impact on the sustainability of packaging.

Historically, pressure-sensitive labels and shrink sleeves have allowed craft brewers and small beverage producers to market their products in an industry where can makers typically require minimum orders of 300k-1M (and lead time three months) for offset printing. cans. But this comes at a cost to the environment. Labels and sleeves must be separated from the aluminum can before the can can be recycled. In reality, in many waste sorting facilities this does not happen for various reasons and the cans end up in the landfill – an absolute crime in terms of sustainability since aluminum is infinitely recyclable.

The use of “direct-to-form” digital printing is the answer to this problem, allowing newly manufactured blank beverage cans to be printed directly using industrial inkjet technology with fast turnaround time. installation, zero installation cost and zero waste. Most companies offering the service will accept orders of up to 1000 cans, catering to the needs of even the smallest brewers and the most targeted niche marketing campaigns. The label is no longer necessary and will disappear in this market as brands and brewers discover direct-to-form printing. We are talking about a potential saving of hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic worldwide from sleeves alone (source: Coherent Market Insights “Stretch & Shrink Sleeve Packaging Market 2021-27”)

The Tonejet printhead technology inside the Cyclone C4+ is truly innovative. Unlike traditional inkjet, our printhead creates droplets using electrostatic forces. This means we can deposit high levels of color pigment in a very thin layer (less than a micron), creating a vibrant image under an industry standard overcoat. Not only do we allow end users to dispense with labels and sleeves, but we add negligible amounts of material to the can – approximately 10 to 20 times less than older inkjet technologies. This means that the beverage can remains fully recyclable using traditional waste streams.

The technology is also less expensive for end users and offers the fastest turnaround time – typically two weeks from receiving artwork to shipping cans – in the industry. These factors are driving adoption and will result in fewer and fewer labeled or sleeved cans in the future.

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How was your innovation/initiative received?

Our major customers in North America (Solucan) and Europe (Bevcraft) have both installed second systems following massive demand for their services and are planning significant expansion. They find that once new customers move from labeling to direct digital, they don’t look back. As these customers learn how quickly they can design new packs, it transforms the way they manage both their product lines and their inventory, further driving demand for what we do.

You are shortlisted for the Machines category. According to you, what are the main demands, challenges and opportunities related to packaging machines?

The big challenge right now is just getting components. Fortunately, we have a good stock of PCB assemblies and electronics in our systems, but we are seeing delivery quotes of 6-12 months on basic items like touch screens and PLC controllers. To date, we’ve mitigated this by shopping around, but it’s a big concern, as is the simple fact that most of our raw material costs have gone up 10-20%.

The opportunities for packaging machine manufacturers in digital packaging are huge, and we’re just getting started. Whether it’s printing equipment like ours for decorating beverage cans, or the inkjet systems now used to individually decorate and personalize corrugated packaging, or cutting equipment and that will allow secondary packs to be precisely sized and produced on demand to reduce waste, there is plenty of room for innovative equipment manufacturers.

The winners of this Sustainability Awards category will be announced at a dinner taking place at the Sustainable Packaging Summit in Lisbon on September 13-14, 2022. To attend the ceremony, register here.


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