Endless incremental improvements
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“Printing companies must always be looking to improve quality and productivity while lowering their environmental footprint. Looking forward, these pressures will continue to get more intense.” — Karl Nurse, President, Bay Tech Label
If you ask Karl Nurse the secret to the label printing industry’s sustainability journey, the path of “endless incremental improvements” is what he believes holds all the answers. By allocating his time taking deep dives into industry trade shows, conferences, webinars, and participation in the Flexo Label Advantage Group (FLAG), the president of Bay Tech Label has uncovered state-of-the-art new recycling opportunities and state of the art equipment geared toward furthering his company’s sustainability cause.
For the past 35-plus years, the St. Petersburg, Florida, company has been serving the label print needs of its clients throughout a variety of industries, including industrial, chemical, cosmetic, pharmaceutical medical devices, nutraceutical, and food and beverage. Along the way, driven by its commitment to continually investing in equipment, infrastructure and employee education, Bay Tech remains one of the few label manufacturers certified to print UL Labels, offering a Class 10,000 Clean Room for labels that must be produced in a controlled environment, and a Sustainable Green Printing Certified facility. “By staying on top of new trends and technology, we ensure we have the equipment and the expertise to deliver the results our customers need,” Nurse says. “Those endless incremental improvements will help us produce efficiency, growth, more sustainable products and economic security for all involved.”
Nurse says Bay Tech’s mission is to be transparent about its efforts to operate in a way that is both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable—from recycling and reducing energy consumption, to utilizing solar power panels on its roof and using the most sustainable materials available to tackle environmental concerns. “Printing companies must always be looking to improve quality and productivity while lowering their environmental footprint. Looking forward, these pressures will continue to get more intense.”
That is why when Bay Tech examined bolstering its sustainable equipment portfolio, it turned to Fujifilm’s Illumina® LED COLDCURE System, which has helped set a new standard for its environmentally friendly printed labels. For example, the Illumina LED ink curing uses light-emitting diodes to convert electrical current into light greatly reducing energy consumption and potential health-compromising ozone emissions. In addition, the Illumina eliminates the need for noisy exhaust fans and oppressive heat exhibited by traditional UV and other LED curing technologies.
“We felt like the Illumina LED UV system gave us the opportunity to reduce the power consumption versus traditional water based and UV ink curing systems.” Nurse says. “It also reduced start-up time, which helped us gain efficiency. And by eliminating the need to vent hot air out of the building, we were able to reduce air conditioning costs significantly (a huge expense in Florida). The Illumina also helped reduce the cost and time for maintenance.”
An innovative marvel
The innovative features of the Illumina LED Retrofit System continue to attract the attention of printers like Bay Tech. For example, the Illumina’s single-piece extrusion design allows room temperature distilled water to be circulated directly behind each LED module. This eliminates the need for chilled rollers, even for thin film and shrink film applications. “The lower heat on press and elimination of energy used for chill rollers resulted in a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions of 85% compared to existing UV curing,” Nurse says.
Nurse says Bay Tech has found new capabilities to print high quality process labels with more consistency on press, while reducing press side waste. Now, with Fujifilm’s Flenex Water Wash Plates, flexo plates can be processed with mild detergent and warm water.
And the residual solution can be treated as common wastewater after removing a small amount of residual particulate in collection bags. “This eliminates residual industrial waste of wicking cloths for thermal flexo plates or solvent recycling for solvent processed plates processing.”
In addition, the Flenex FW reduces platemaking processing times to 40 minutes, significantly faster than solvent and thermal flexo plate making. It is the fastest flexo plate to press in the industry.
“These recent additions are central to our philosophy of environmental stewardship,” Nurse says. “We started in 1986 and have grown all but one year. We win FTA (Flexo Technical Association) and FGA (Florida Graphics Association) awards regularly for quality. And we are family owned, which allows us to reinvest profits into quality, productivity and sustainability upgrades like these Fujifilm technologies every year.”
The Bay Tech and Fujifilm partnership hits at the heart of the industry’s drive for “sustainable development,” putting a little more pressure on other industry leaders to push the limits in 2022 and beyond.