The Good, Better, and Best of E-Beam

by Lilly Blum

In case you haven’t heard the news, Inland Packaging has a new digital printing division! With our new division we have some exciting new capabilities. In addition to offering more flexible packaging constructions and digital offerings, we now have a new technology, E-Beam. In this edition of the Inland blog, we’re talking through the good, better, and best of the E-Beam technology with, Dave, one of the managers from our new division!

The Good – Quick Turnaround Times

Before we dive into the benefits of E-Beam, here’s what you need to know. As you read above, E-Beam is a technology that works with digital printing. It uses high energy electrons to produce a thin, durable coating on the top of the label or flexible packaging. “Think of the E-Beam technology as more of a liquid lamination, eliminating the conventional laminated layer,” explains Dave.

E-Beam is the best of both worlds since it instantaneously cures the ink along with the coating and removes the need for lamination. By removing the lamination step, E-Beam allows for quicker turnaround times. “We can apply our E-Beam coating as a protective layer and immediately convert to a pouch or ship that same day as rollstock. The E-Beam system allows for an instantaneous cure. With conventional lamination the cure time is up to 48 hours or more,” notes Dave. When you pair that with digital printing, you have the ideal solution for lightning fast labels or packaging!

The Better – Safer for Consumers

What could be better about E-Beam? Well, other than bringing back some chemistry class knowledge about electrons, E-Beam can replace traditional UV curing, which can be harmful to your consumers. We won’t get too technical here, but UV coatings can be harmful due to the photoinitiator that trigger the curing process. Dave explains “photoinitiators are well documented to be toxic and not recommended for any direct food contact applications. A major benefit of E-Beam coating is the elimination of those photoinitiators. In the case of beverages, we are also able to use this technology for shrink sleeves on the outside of containers where there is direct contact with consumers’ mouths. This lets us provide matte or soft-touch coatings on shrink sleeves that is safe for consumers.”

The Best – Cost-Effective and Sustainable

You might be asking, what could possibly be better than that!? Well the cherry on top is the cost and sustainable attributes. As you read above there is no need for lamination with E-Beam. This eliminates both a step and material in the flexible packaging process.  Less material needed to make the packaging means less cost in the manufacturing process! Dave reveals that “the E-Beam coating is thin (.0001” thick) as compared to a laminate (.48”), this eliminates a lot of material, yet still provides a extremely tough exterior.”

The removal of the lamination even makes E-Beam coated flexible packaging recyclable! Dave adds “we currently produce a 100% polyethylene material with an E-Beam coating that is recyclable,”  If you have the return to sender recycling receptacles outside of places like your local grocery store, this type of flexible packaging can be recycled there.

Not only does E-Beam use less material, but also less energy. E-Beam is a more energy efficient process than traditional finishing for flexible packaging. Dave breaks it down for us by explaining “given the speed of the process and no cure time, there is a much smaller footprint to process the same amount of flexible packaging. The E-Beam technology is applied at room temperature so “hot-rooms” are not required for the curing of laminations.”

Now that you know the good, better, and best about E-Beam, we bet you can’t wait to try it! Give us a call today or use the contact us form to ask us any questions you have. We’d love to chat about this exciting new technology!