Soma Engineering has supplied a third flexographic printing press at Artflex enabling the company to reach new levels of quality and service in the CIS flexible packaging market.

The eight colour Midi II press is equipped with Soma’s new, automatic wash up system and automatic viscosity controls and the company’s precise tension control system that provides precise regulation in individual areas of the web path. The press is designed to handle the largest possible spectrum of materials with a range of tension options from 10 – 420 N.

Our first 8-colour flexographic printing press was a Soma Flex Mini that is now almost seven years old and still works like clock-work,” says Michail Vitalijevich Frolov, General Manager. “We then installed a second similar machine and this is the basis on which the Soma /Artflex cooperation and our professional growth and association were formed. The decision to purchase the more sophisticated Midi II was based on changing requirements in the flexible packaging market. We considered a number of flexographic printing presses and based on our current and future production situation, the Soma solution proved to be the most advantageous in terms of technology and price to quality ratio. One of the main benefits we are seeing with the Midi II is the transition to a new professional level of flexible packaging production. Artflex is now one the 15 most important players on the market for flexible packaging in Russia and one of the top four in the North-West region. By being able to offer higher quality, we are now also able to supply larger end users.”

“Along with high quality and short delivery times, our customers appreciate our attitude toward them and our interest in their success,” says Frolov. Our main competitive advantage is our ability to provide all the complex flexible packaging services such as packaging and equipment supply, setup, upgrades and spare parts etc. This advantage is the result of joint cooperation between Artflex and Russkaja Trapeza who produce equipment for filling and packaging. This means we are specialists in packaging and equipment ‘in one bottle’ so to speak. This combined operation allows us to offer the best solutions to our customers in both specified packaging equipment and materials while minimising Costs.”

Artflex was formerly the flexible packaging department of the large Russian holding company, Ruskaya Trapeza, founded in 1998. In 2004 this department reached the size of a flexible packaging company in its own right and started up under the brand name Artflex. In the same year investment was made in the first machine from SOMA, a Soma Flex Mini. In 2010 the company broadened its flexographic printing operation and installed the eight colour, Soma Flex Midi II. The company currently has one hundred employees and in addition to standard surface printing and double and triple laminating it also offers packaging with hologram, print on the foil and PVC products with twist-effect for the confectionary industry. Material consumption is in the region of 1,5 Euro per month with a production of 250-300 tonnes. The company’s supplies a main customer base in the CIS countries including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus as well as the United States and Russia.

“Our company was strongly affected by the sharp increase of commodity prices in 2010,” concludes Frolov. “The increase of 20% in BOPP material had a serious effect on our profitability so we had to take measures internally to address this issue. In terms of increasing profitability through press design and to increase profitability in the future, we should like to see manufacturers developing technology to increase the automation of print quality control, software to record and control shift history, printing speed, job set-up times and material stocks throughout the printing process. This would greatly assist in standardising raw material consumption and in the reduction of time loss, particularly when running expensive jobs such as laminates and foils. With average print runs at 650-700 kg for MINI, 1500-1700 kg for MIDI II at speeds up to 250m/min. Our operators greatly appreciate the layout of the controls on the Soma presses as well as the fast set-up and job changeovers that enable increased productivity.