For O&PM Europa, experimentation is the name of the game. The precoatings, labels and direct-to-object printing specialist spends a significant amount of time on research and development, and the hard work is paying off; O&PM Europa’s approach to innovation is becoming widely recognised, and their precoatings for water-based digital inkjet are gaining global interest following a number of successful testing rounds measuring absorption, adhesion, water resistance, scratch resistance, application, appearance, drying, colour gamut, and behaviour on substrates, and demonstrating unmatched flexibility and outstanding quality. Established in 2015 by Dursun Acun and based in Tilburg, Netherlands, the trailblazing business primarily serves Europe’s largest chemical companies.
This testing is being carried out internationally by a range of interested parties, including machine builders, producers of flexible films, cardboard producers, and packaging and printing companies, with positive results. Key findings include exceedingly thin laydown, strong performance on synthetic substrates, rapid drying time of under one second following printing with no additional external drying required, and the ability to apply using a range of techniques including flexo graphic, rotogravure, Meyer rod and slot-die.
O&PM Europa’s unique approach involves formulation on request to ensure customers’ precoatings are to their exact specifications. The company also offers customers a range of precoating options, setting it apart from the majority of competitors which tend to focus on a limited solutions.
While the customisation of the components that make up inkjet systems in order to ensure that they match a customer’s exact requirements may be standard, the flexibility and ease of application of the company’s offering is a significant step forward, says Dursun Acun, Sales Director at O&PM Europa. “These developments will enable water-based inkjet printing to grow more rapidly, says Acun. “Until now, there was no machine or precoating available which facilitated application by the customer themselves. The market so far has been dominated by the few, which ultimately slows down advancement in the market.” For customers with a desire to eliminate lead times and high prices on ink receptive materials, the ability to precoat themselves could prove revolutionary.
The development of a range of precoating options, as well as the expertise needed to create bespoke solutions, was a crucial element of the company’s process. Discussing the method, Acun explains: “During research and development, we discovered there is no ‘holy grail’ for primers and precoatings. We began formulating with a few ingredients, then we started to test with increasingly more, as well as a number of different substrates. Now, we have eight standard formulations, and have built up a wealth of knowledge that allows us to formulate upon request.”
O&PM Europa’s offering involves a total concept, which includes formulating and supply of the precoatings, the coatings system itself, and a printing system from O&PM’s partner, Italian printing and finishing equipment manufacturer, Rigoli s.r.l. “Any company that wants to print on cardboard, flexible films, or packaging can come to O&PM Europa and find everything they need,” says Acun.
He continues: “We are one of the few disruptors in the primers field, and we have a number of advantages over competitors, one of which is the lay down; our primers range from 30 to 35 grammes per square metre, and up to a maximum of 50 grammes per square metre, which is almost half of what is being offered elsewhere in the market.
“Another is the look and feel of our primers; some leading primers feel sticky to the touch if hands are slightly wet for example, whereas ours don’t have that effect – they feel just like plastic. So we’re seeing enormous growth in interest in our range of primers. As well as targeting flexible film producers, there is a great deal of interest for our primers in the corrugated cardboard and cartons space.”
That increased interest has prompted O&PM Europa to work with a US-based partner to develop suitable machinery, as current equipment is not advanced enough for optimal application, further demonstrating that O&PM Europa is a few steps ahead of the competition in the primer market.
To meet strong demand for O&PM Europa’s growing portfolio of products, the next step will be to build the company’s network of sales agents to serve its clients across Europe and then worldwide, as well as continuing to innovate and disrupt the label and primer industries. Dursun notes: “We need that manpower if we’re going to keep up with the interest in our products. There are a couple of companies in Europe which are already interested in working with us more closely. Once the LabelSaver™ is actively in production, we will be able to go ahead with what we predict will be strong machine sales.”
The company has previously been recognised for its innovation and excellence, having been selected as Industry Update Company of the Year in the Chemical Labelling category, thanks to its outstanding label range. Acun stated at the time, “We are proud to receive this accolade and to increase awareness of our business throughout the European markets. It helps us to be recognised as pioneers when it comes to water-based digital systems.”
The award came after O&PM Europa was recognised as Industry Update ‘Company of the Month’ in the same category in January 2020, as well as being nominated in the 2020 Dutch Packaging Awards in the category for Innovative Technology. although label production forms OPM Europa’s core business, the company continues to innovate, with a number of disruptive projects in the works. Take the LabelSaver™, the world’s first machine capable of printing directly onto jerry cans, paint cans and HPDE/LDPE bottles. The LabelSaver™ can print up to 500 jerry cans per hour in full colour and in 360°, and can be adapted to work with a number of objects including drums up to 200 litres. Currently at the prototype stage, the unique model is predicted to see strong growth over the next five years.
Dursun explains: “The next goal is to have a working system in place in a factory so we have a good reference for our future customers. We have chosen to initially work with chemical companies, as we already know how to work with these clients to meet their needs, and the LabelSaver™ suits those companies because they have many different products in small quantities. The LabelSaver™ is especially built to be able to print and change rapidly among different types of designs and products.”
Being as busy as O&PM Europa is comes naturally. While the business did experience a pandemic-related slowdown and significant decrease in turnover, the company saw business pick up during the summer months, and is now as busy as ever and operating at the same level as before the first lockdown.
As Dursun says, “We don’t stand still, we still have a lot of work to do. When you’re an innovative company you always have work to do, one product is never finished, you can always perfect it, you can always make things better, more efficient. That’s a typical working method in our company, we always try to do things a little bit better.” Dursun concludes: “We want to keep moving forward, and want to keep that advantage over our competitors. It comes with the territory when you’re a pioneering company.”