Aussie Visitor’s Viewpoint at Tokyo Pack

JAPAN is renowned for having the highest quality and most sophisticated packaging in the world, with the latest innovations on show every two years at Tokyo Pack.

Phillip Rolls, MD of Australian flexible converting and printing specialist RollsPack, is a regular visitor to Tokyo Pack. This year he took along team members Anna Angelovski (national sales manager), James Luttick (operations manager) and Sophie Fu (manager promotions division) to review this packaging showcase from an Aussie perspective, keeping an eye out for innovation and cost savings. PKN invited him to share the experience.

“At Tokyo Pack this year, as in years past, the focus was still on easy open, single-serve products, but the show also exhibited a high level of Japan’s current packaging technology and packaging techniques,” Rolls says.

The scope of concepts on show at Tokyo Pack ranged from microwavable and retort single-serve packaging, outer packaging, consumer packaging and transport packaging with clever design and innovative carton creations, moulding the product being transported.

“Flexible packaging products have become more sophisticated in design and obviously difficult to replicate with ‘off the shelf’ equipment available today,” he notes.

“On the printing and converting side, digital and inkjet systems showed strong growth over previous years,” he says. “Of particular interest was a new technology for digital gravure printing for flexible packaging.

“It comprises an ink jet printing unit and water-based white colour gravure printing unit, which allows printing small-lot multi-product efficiently by applying digital technology. It features the same quality of white colour and image reproducibility as gravure printing, applicable for boil and retort processing with the added benefit of a reduced amount of organic solvent,” Rolls says. “It is an innovative printing technology to create a new world of packaging.”

Rolls says he was impressed by the quality and vibrancy of the water-based inks, as Japan switches to more eco-friendly ethyl acetate-based formulas and alcohol, away from the Asian norm of toluene and MEK.

An Australian-owned and operated SME with business ties in Europe and Asia, RollsPack sees Tokyo Pack as a window on a world of innovation and best practice that it can apply in its home market. For instance, RollsPack has already been inserting an invisible/transparent anti-counterfeiting mark in some of its products this year. Also, Rolls says it was the first company in Australia with a box-bottom and a triangle flat bottom pouch machine. And in gravure printing, it bats with the biggest like Amcor, offering 9-colour gravure printing and 8-colour flexo printing.

“Tokyo Pack is always interesting for identifying the trends of tomorrow, and it will remain a key source of inspiration for our team,” Rolls says.

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