ECOLEAF: A Silver Bullet for Metallization
Jan Franz Allerkamp, CEO
Part of what makes a product successful is whether it meets the needs of its target market. And discovering these needs or developing the right solution can’t take place in a vacuum. You need to meet a lot of prospective customers, learn about their businesses—and most importantly—about their challenges.
Throughout the year, we place a special emphasis on meeting a lot of customers from different segments and in different regions. We listen to their existing production and business challenges and hear what types of technological solutions can help solve their pains. We bring these valuable insights to our R&D team to ensure that the product we’re delivering will meet their needs.
Metallization effects provided by hot or cold foil add value, help command premium pricing and enable products to better stand out on the shelf. We only need to think of our favorite premium alcoholic beverage or our favorite dark chocolate or praline.
But it’s an unfortunate reality that this amazing beauty has an ecological cost. Technological development throughout the 20th century may have reduced the waste of precious metals like silver and gold, but they have also resulted in a lot of plastic waste from the rolls of plastic carrier film used to the transport the metal leaf before it is applied to the printed product.
In meeting after meeting over the last year, almost every printer said that waste reduction was a major issue for them, if not the issue facing their business. We met customers throughout Europe who produce huge amount of waste foil every day. This is a tremendous cost to their pockets and to the environment. It’s not just in disposal fees or in fuel for the trucks, but also the build-up of the plastic waste in landfills. Waste that could be undissolved even in another generation or two.
The raison d'être of our ECOLEAF technology is to bring a 21st century environmental approach to the metallization process. This means that we want to wipe out a major amount of waste associated with metallization. Our patented process creates very thin layers of metal flakes on the substrate. By replenishing the metal flakes on the donor roll, which is one of the core parts of our metallization technology, we can make sure the flakes are only used where they are really needed, all the rest goes back into the system for further usage. That means less waste in landfills—and a huge reduction in your transport and disposal costs.
Another key issue that’s come up in our discussions is the lack of flexibility in the metallization process. Each shade requires its own foil to be purchased, stored and used. And then lead times for replacing foil or ordering a new type are challenging to say the least.
We are working hard to solve this problem by making our ECOLEAF solution perfectly over-printable. This will enable ECOLEAF to decrease your make-ready times and improve production efficiencies. We want ECOLEAF to let you replace your vast amount of various types of foil onsite with just a single, renewable type. No longer will you need to tie up your capital and management time in ordering and storing various types of foil. Or suddenly placing a rush order for the one shade you’re missing.
From packaging to label printers, we are working hard to make ECOLEAF a silver bullet for metallization.