UPM Specialty Papers and Koenig & Bauer optimise digital printing for barrier papers


UPM Specialty Papers’ heat-sealable barrier papers have achieved excellent results in tests carried out with Koenig & Bauer‘s next generation of inkjet digital printing technology. This is good news for brand owners and converters interested in surpassing the limitations of conventional printing methods in order to accelerate time to market or to create more customized packaging.

UPM Koenig&Bauer 1

The goal was to test and optimize the compatibility of digital printing for UPM Specialty Papers’ barrier papers, as it would offer a powerful combination to produce very flexibly even small batches of packages.

“Our goal was to produce samples of a real-world product,” says Falko Baltrusch, Senior Manager at the Koenig & Bauer Customer Technology Center. “This co-creation was ideal, combining the paper and processing expertise of UPM Specialty Papers with our knowledge of machines, inks, temperatures and so on. This enabled us to control the whole process to see if the papers were printable and, if so, make sure that the print was of the right quality. We achieved both goals.”

The companies agreed to run the tests on UPM Confidio™, UPM Asendo™, and UPM Prego™ barrier paper families, which offer a variety of different coated and uncoated surfaces. The tests also allowed UPM Specialty Papers to trial their barrier papers on digital printing technology since packaging is traditionally printed with flexo, rotogravure, or offset methods, which require high volume runs.

As a globally active printing press manufacturer, Koenig & Bauer is looking to the future with the development of its RotaJET inkjet printing press, a highly flexible digital printing system capable of working with numerous different substrates and applications.

UPM Raflatac food labels

“We were very keen to see how our barrier papers performed on the RotaJET printing press,” says Markus Kamphuis, Technical Sales Manager, UPM Specialty Papers. “The results were extremely successful from the beginning. UPM Confidio™ incorporates an additional heat seal function, so it was also important to find out if the temperatures for drying ink would activate the sealing function or change the colours of the design. Neither was an issue, and the colours were really sharp and vivid”.

“This kind of flexibility allows brand owners to meet legal requirements for higher levels of traceability and localised packaging materials – as well as develop highly customized packaging. Take the final of the Superbowl or the Champions League for example,” explains Falko Baltrusch. “You can wait until the last minute to print the packaging when you know which teams are in the final. And they can do all this while also making the transition to fibre-based materials, meeting their sustainability goals.”

UPM Confidio™, UPM Asendo™, and UPM Prego™ barrier paper families are easy to recycle in existing fibre recycling streams. And now, they have been proven compatible with inkjet print technology and ready to take advantage of the benefits on offer.