Imperial Tobacco’s Re-Branded Packaging Judged a Winner

When Imperial Tobacco decided their Lambert and Butler product was to be rebranded, Alcan Packaging and API Foils had a two-part challenge.

The first part being the product’s design and security demands. These meant that highly accurate register control was essential because tolerances of +/-0.15mm in 70mm were required in the final product. The second part of the challenge was that three discrete production processes were needed to manufacture the product on three different sites by two different companies and with each process the material structure altered.

API Foils at Poynton had previously worked closely with Optima on a number of projects and, being aware of our experience and expertise, API contacted Optima to explore possible solutions.

Optima’s successful solution involved the design and supply of a customised register mark tracking solution on two machines (one at API, one at Alcan Packaging) and additionally the upgrade of the final section of API’s laminating machine.

Optima’s solution was to optically detect embossed register marks on metallised film (the product of the first site and process) and by controlling the amount of stretch in the film immediately prior to the laminating process, this enabled the production of a laminated product which was dimensionally prepared for the third site and it’s printing, cutting and creasing processes.

The laminating machine’s unwind stand was upgraded using Parker SSD 590+DC drives and the addition of a loadcell mounted tension feedback roller. Good tension control and high accuracy register mark measurement were fundamental components to the engineered solution.

After lamination and curing, quality checking of register mark accuracy was conducted prior to being rewound, then edge trimmed and made ready for the finishing processes.

The final process (at Alcan Packaging Bristol) involved rotogravure printing and in-line embossing, cutting and creasing. Each process registered to the now embossed and laminated substrate.

To achieve this a second register control system was fitted to the rotogravure press which, once associated with the master reel information (gathered using a bar-code scanner) was stored on Alcan’s servers meaning that crucial product quality data could be held offering ready access to a complete production traceability database.

This was a difficult technical challenge that enjoyed a successful conclusion as a result of the close working partnership of API Foils, Alcan Packaging who between them had extensive process experience and Optima’s technology and application expertise.

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