The German company said the technological advance means the high-speed method can now be employed in applications such as curved pots.
“With the new method an appearance can be obtained on curved cups that is otherwise only possible by employing much more expensive or slower embellishing procedures,” a company spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com. “Up to now curved cups could only be decorated using pad printing or with so-called 'shrink sleeves'. However, the pad printing method in no way achieves the speeds of an offset printing machine.”
It announced a patent had been filed for the invention with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office in Munich and the first products made for Friesland Campina using the technique have been brought to market this week.
"Gizeh is expecting a high market demand for the new decorating method in the food industry in particular - for example all sorts of dairy products like yoghurts, puddings, cream cheeses and similar, ready-to-go snacks," said the spokesman.
Gizeh said there were a number of challenges to overcome in adapting the offset technique for use on spherical objects.
“The difficulty is to transfer the printed image from the cylindrically formed print drum to the convexo-concave cup,” said Frank Kriener, the firm’s head of production. “You’re practically printing on a sphere, and that at high speeds.”
While the company said it was not able to reveal the details of its breakthrough, the spokesman declared: “As far as we know there is no comparable method in industry for printing on spherical plastic cups.”
Nine months in development, the team at Gizeh highlighted configuring the machine as a major test – which involved solving problems related to even-colour application on curved surfaces, as well as adapting the printing unit and the system's cup handling capabilities.
“With very little modification, the system can print on cups with differing curvatures,” said the spokesman. “In particular the printing cylinder does not have to be exchanged; something which would otherwise be extremely expensive and time-consuming.”