Falling consumption, rising quality: FAM Favata's innovative and sustainable solutions.
FAM Favata Advanced Marking has been active for over 60 years in the market of coding systems for industrial and packaging applications. An history that makes FAM a leading company in the distribution of the most important brands and in the marketing of solutions based on innovation and sustainability.
Adriano Favata, grandson of the company's founder, who became CEO after directing FAM International for years, outlines the prospects for the next months looking ahead to the upcoming edition of IPACK-IMA 2022.
Which technology do you particularly value in this period?
FAM has decided to focus strongly on TIJ (Thermal Ink Jet) printers for variable data printing on products and packaging. Thanks to a close co-operation with HP, whose technology we license, we have realised the FAMJET PLEYON, which is a truly unique innovation proposal.
TIJ 2.5 technology, based on HP45 cartridges, has been proven for years and in billions of units worldwide on office printers, reaching a level of engineering and reliability unmatched by any imitator or competitor. On the strength of this extraordinary market experience, HP has decided to devote its attention to variable data printing in a wide range of industries, as an alternative to traditional ink-jet printers, whether large character, i.e. based on electrovalves and piezoelectric, or micro-character, i.e. deflected drop or Cij - Continuous Jet. HP has shared its sophisticated know-how with a select group of partners, including FAM, with the aim of creating printers that would meet the needs of the most demanding industrial market.
The success has been overwhelming and printers based on HP TIJ 2.5 technology have become the solution of choice in the graphic and secondary packaging fields, as they can use water-based inks for porous surfaces, which are also standard in office printers. Thanks to this technological leap forward, the old solenoid printers were quickly rendered obsolete. The main problems were twofold. On the one hand, print quality has been improved by overcoming the 7 x 5 dot matrix unsuitable for printing barcodes, 2D codes, logos, etc. of the old DODs, and the 600 DPI of the HP TIJ... On the other hand, the reliability increased with this latest technology, because it was possible to introduce the concept of "zero maintenance" in the field of industrial printers. The print engine resides in the cartridge and each time it is replaced, the printer starts from scratch with a new print head. In short, the printer is self-regenerating because each time the cartridge is changed the print head is new and does not require any other form of maintenance, with the associated personnel and service costs.
Three years ago, HP also launched the new HP45Si cartridge, which is suitable for solvent-based inks, opening up the possibility of using this technology in applications involving printing on non-porous surfaces. In some sectors, such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, it took just a few months to phase out all printers using traditional technologies that had suddenly become outdated. In fact, the industrial world, unlike the office, prints on any type of material and has constantly evolving technical requirements in terms of printing quality and reliability.
There was one last obstacle to the widespread adoption of printers based on HP TIJ 2.5 technology: the cost of consumables. Solvent-based inks were generally only available in 42 ml disposable cartridges. This made the cost of printing too expensive and uncompensated in many applications, negating the benefits. This issue is particularly important for the Italian and European markets where the focus on costs often holds back the adoption of new solutions, even when it is a genuine technical breakthrough, where quality and efficiency compensate for the start-up cost. This consideration, however, does not apply to sectors where budgets are particularly significant, such as pharmaceuticals, where the decisive factor is the printing quality and reliability, because readability and coding must be at their best.
Marking is central from many points of view, even in sectors such as the food industry where the label is increasingly a marketing and communication vehicle and is slowly moving away from the arid concept of a legal obligation, as it is still perceived in many companies. It should also be remembered that in addition to the issue of costs, there is the environmental impact linked to the constant replacement of cartridges and the waste produced, on which FAM has developed a technology that we can define as "turnkey".
With the development of the FAMJET PLEYON bulk system, the HP cartridge is fed by special 400 ml ink containers. This FAM solution overcomes the last limitation of HP technology, i.e., the environmental impact due to continuous cartridge replacement. We have created what could be defined as the equivalent of a smartphone, the killer app that solves the replacement of cartridges with external refilling, reducing costs, environmental impact and downtime. This allows us to offer the many industrial sectors that choose us, a type of printer that is economical to buy and competitive in the cost of printing, characterised by high performance and absolutely reliable, practically maintenance-free. We are convinced that our technology is the most effective for the great challenges of the present and the future. In almost all applications, the FAMJET PLEYON is already a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to complicated and polluting CIJ deflected drop printers, which require periodic maintenance in the field, the replacement of expensive spare parts and the use of environmentally harmful and even toxic solvents.
In addition, the FAMJET PLEYON is maintenance-free, does not require expensive travel by specialist technicians and does not require the replacement of entire machine blocks. It uses consumables free of toxic solvents and does not cause the fumes typical of traditional inkjet printers. Its ease of use allows customers to manage it through their own in-house staff, providing savings and flexibility unique in this sector. The sophisticated software developed with the Android operating system allows immediate integration into the most advanced and automated production processes.
Looking at the ecological issue, so much in the spotlight at the moment, FAM's solution is a response that combines awareness of the planet and technical performance, to provide answers to the industrial world that combine productivity and sustainability.
What are your expectations of the event?
We are not overly optimistic when we say that we expect a lot from IPACK-IMA 2022. In fact, we are convinced that next spring's edition will be a particular success, due to the fact that after the long and painful interlude imposed by the pandemic, visitors will flock from Italy and abroad to finally see for themselves the technological progress and innovation that has taken place in recent years in one of the most dynamic and innovative sectors of the Italian industry, the packaging industry. Needless to say, we expect our FAMJET PLEYON and the other novelties that we do not want to anticipate yet, to be appreciated as one of the most significant and incisive proposals exhibited at what will be the main international packaging fair of 2022. We have always noted and appreciated the international nature of the event and this year it is even more important. We believe, for example, that there will be many visitors from the Mediterranean basin; a market in which we are very interested and in which we have a strong presence.
What market outlook do you see for the 2022 market?
Looking ahead to 2022, we can only be very optimistic. The natural rebound in the economy, which we all predicted after the acute crisis caused by the pandemic, is overlaid by the opportunities linked to the no-longer-postponed transition to a production model in which the concepts of sustainability, efficiency and consumer protection will have equal weight. We at FAM believe that we are coming to this event ready to make an important contribution: our FAMJET line of printers, and in particular the PLEYON, fully meets the needs of what is today succinctly defined as Industry 4.0. However, the pandemic for us has driven the market, because all consumer health products, from masks to sanitary ware, have to be marked, which has allowed us to grow and never stop working and producing. In general, I think we are living in a time of great challenges that are worth facing, with an approach based on innovation concepts. An approach that we have also adopted in our company, with our technological solutions. For me, therefore, it is not just a question of business, but also a contribution to improving the system in which we live, the planet above all. So change starts with us, but it has to look at the development model where economy and sustainability find new answers.