Direct-to-Shape, Digital Inkjet
22 January 2021
The reliability and performance of the Xaar 1003 printhead utilising its unique TF Technology proved instrumental in the ground-breaking, direct-to-bottle printing operation for Beck’s beer, with over 200,000 special edition bottles produced for the UK market.
Each beer bottle was printed directly with one of nine different 360-degree designs, replacing the need for a label. This significantly reduced the amount of packaging materials required, as well as minimising turnaround time, with designs being seen on shelf just weeks after their initial approval.
This innovation was a collaboration between the world’s largest brewer, AB-InBev, and leading digital decoration printing company, Dekron, using the DecoType Performance machine with Xaar 1003 printheads to decorate each bottle before filling and sealing.
“We worked closely with Xaar to develop this innovative direct-to-container printing application for Beck’s,” said Zsolt Rozsnyai, product manager for decoration at Dekron. “Xaar’s UV inkjet technology allowed us to combine effects to both maximise the print impact on the beer bottles and significantly reduce the time taken from design to the retail shelf.”
The DecoType Performance at AB-InBev uses the Xaar 1003 printheads to deliver exceptionally high-speed rotary printing in full colour, using CMYK with a white and varnish. In its full configuration the DecoType Performance uses a total of 288 printheads across 48 print cages, delivering an output of up to 24,000 glass bottles per hour.
As well as providing a high-impact print finish, the capacity to undertake multiple passes and add a varnish enables the simulation of glass embossing effects on bottles. This allows completely new design combinations to be envisaged by one machine, with the variable full colour print combining with a tactile finish, saving time and money by avoiding the need for labels to integrate with a screen print or embossed bottle.
Xaar’s TF Technology, supported by the development of a specific Waveform, was critical in ensuring the jetting was able to meet the demands of this challenging application. By enabling the ink to flow directly past the back of the nozzle during drop ejection, even at very high flow rates, the printheads are continuously primed, and with the ink in constant motion, this prevents sedimentation and nozzle blocking, particularly with heavily pigmented inks.
“The quality and stability of Xaar’s printheads are second to none, proving to be much more reliable, durable and longer-lasting than any other printheads available on the market,” continued Zsolt.
“We have been very impressed with the results enabled by Xaar’s TF Technology and Waveform optimisation programme and software which have ensured greater drop placement accuracy for maximum print impact.
“These, combined with the support and co-operation from Xaar throughout the project, have helped ensure the success of this campaign and start a potential revolution in glass bottle printing.”
The 200,000 custom printed Beck’s bottles, comprised of nine different designs, with each being printed at AB-InBev’s Tattoo Alpha site in Belgium. The bottles were then filled and sold in the UK through the country’s second largest supermarket chain, Sainsburys.