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Orora Beverage is installing the region’s first Velox digital, high-speed, full-colour, can printing system, enabling customisation of can design and decoration, and fast speed to market for new products and promotions.

The first digital printer will be installed at Orora’s can production facility in Dandenong, where Orora currently decorates cans with traditional high-speed offset decoration processes. The two processes – offset and digital – will run side-by-side. Digtal can printing: Orora

Digital can printing with new Velox technology: Orora

Orora has just signed an agreement with Israel-based global provider, Velox, to supply its new direct-to-shape digital printing solution. Orora will purchase Velox digital printing machines, inks and consumables. Orora has already begun to market the new service as Helio by Orora. The use of cans in beverages is growing rapidly, thanks in part to the almost infinite abilty of aluminium to be recycled.

Velox uses two core proprietary technologies in its DTS direct-to-shape solution to print, what it says are high resolution full-colour images and text direct onto on any shape and material at high volume: Adaptive Deposition Architecture and Variable Viscosity Ink.

The company says its Adaptive Deposition Architecture is an innovative approach, designed for high-speed, high-accuracy, transfer of ink to container surfaces, at almost any speed, delivering “high resolution images and precise colour matching”.

Variable Viscosity Ink is a specially formulated family of digital UV inks that the company claims delivers “unprecedented printing quality and versatility”. The company says the tech minimises the trade-off between print quality and ink coverage efficiency, enabling versatile decoration, and “exceptionally vivid and intense process colours with controlled opacity”, any container material or coating.

Velox says the inks also offer improved adhesion and other functional properties such as low migration, scratch-resistance and heat-resistance.

Chris Smith, general manager Orora Beverage Cans, told Print21 the offset printing technology will be complemented by the digital print capability, which brings the benefits of quick turnaround from design to delivery, with the lead time required by printing plates eliminated.

Smith said the Velox technology will provide greater operational flexibility, catering to smaller minimum quantities, and reducing inventory overproduction. He is quick to point out that the technology's application is not limited to short runs. For instance, its ability to deliver infinite randomisation in sequence enables large-scale promotional activations.

The introduction of Helio adds to the company’s significant investment in cans capacity expansion – in June this year Orora completed construction of an $80m multi-size can line at the Dandenong site.

The new line, which increases production capacity by around 10 per cent, and allows for the manufacture of varying can sizes and formats, combined with the high-speed Helio digital print capability, strengthens significantly Orora’s position to meet the surging growth in demand for beverage cans.

Smith said, “This digital decoration solution will complement and capitalise on the investment at Dandenong, signifying a step change to our leadership in can decoration. We already have in-house expertise in innovation and pre-press decoration, this technology will enhance our decoration centre of excellence at this site.

“We have been assessing the development of direct-to-shape digital decoration technology for cans for some time,” he added.

“Velox has proven capability and holds numerous patents for this technology. Orora has worked with Velox to review trial materials and inspect machines at its site in Israel.”

The new line will be installed in June next year and running by the third quarter. Smith said Orora is launching Helio now because it's already engaging in conversations with brand owners as they plan summer campaigns for next year.

“Our role in primary packaging is to help our brand owners engage the shopper at the point of purchase. Helio and the Velox solution will transform our ability to do this for our customer’s brands,” he said.

“Once commissioned, what this means for our customers is that wait time will be significantly reduced in delivering a specific can size or label design for activities such as promotions, new products and limited-edition retail events. With no label set-up required and near-immediate supply, shorter, faster minimum runs can be accommodated, providing greater flexibility in product and campaign planning.”

Commenting on growth in the aluminium cans market, Smith said, “We are seeing the demand for aluminium cans continue to grow, with particularly exciting developments across a number of categories including craft beer, soft drinks, RTDs and seltzers. Cans are a terrific sustainable, packaging option, convenient for many occasions and most importantly, produced from aluminium containing recycled content, with the can itself being infinitely recyclable.”

Investment in the can production capacity has been ongoing. Apart from the new Dandenong line, a $30m project to expand can ends capacity at Ballarat was completed in March, and a new $85M can line at Revesby, NSW, is underway and expected to come online by Q1 2025.

Smith said, “We know that can graphic design and decoration is a critical tool for engaging consumers – with strong in-house can decoration capability, the Helio solution enabled by high-speed, direct-to-shape digital printing, adds even greater value to Orora’s service offering for its customers.”

Velox was founded a decade ago by two brothers, Marian and Adrian Cofler. It built its first prototype two years later, and by 2017 had a beta system operational. The following year it installed its first tube printing system. In 2021 it teamed up with Crown Holdings to develop digital decoration for necked aluminium cans.

The Velox printing technology represents another innovative development from Israel, which has become a digital print powerhouse; with HP Indigo, Highcon digital die cutters, Scodix digital embellishment, Landa nano technology, and Kornit DTG just some of the new technologies based there.

The Velox advisory board comprises Dr Petra Severit, CTO at coatings developer Altana, which has a significant stake in Landa, and since 2018 a stake in Velox. Altana is owned by Susanne Klatten, the richest woman in Germany, who has an estimated fortune of US$26bn.

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