Printing on Flexible Packaging with Thermal Transfer Printing

1st June, 2018

Flexible packaging is all the rage. Most supermarket aisles are now stocked with an array of products housed in their own, fit to form flexible packaging such as sealed pouches, bags and sample packets. It is currently one of the fastest-growing segments in the packaging industry and according to Smithers Pira, global demand for flexible packaging is forecast to grow at an annual average of 3%.

Why is it so popular?

Flexible packaging offers various benefits to manufacturers when compared with the more traditional packs such as cans or jars. Brands such as Nestlé were early adapters when, back in 2011 they switched their glass jars for a refill pouch of Nescafé coffee. More recently Carex launched their refill pouches for their hand wash; pet food pouches have also become more prominent in the past few years as an alternative to tins. They are cheap to produce from the get-go as the lightweight materials offer cheaper shipping solutions, are created using less energy and use less material for the same volume of filler.

Flexible packaging also promotes sustainability, leaving a smaller footprint. For example, according to, empty flexible packaging only requires one truck for shipping versus the twenty-six required for empty glass jars. The benefits don’t stop at production, for the consumer- flexible packaging can help reduce waste as it is microwavable, resealable to ensure products last longer, easier to store in the home and can extend shelf life for many products.

For the manufacturer, flexible packaging is also a great marketing tool. It is highly customisable and easy to display, allowing more opportunity for creative design and making the product more attractive to customers.

What about legislation and pack information?

As with any packaging, the coding requirements vary by product. Flexible packaging will likely require best before dates, batch codes and barcodes etc. as well as extra brand-related items such as QR codes. Whilst this is a lot of information to fit into what will essentially be smaller packaging, coding flexible packaging could not be easier. Thermal Transfer Printing (also known as TTO) is the optimal solution for flexible packaging as the technology offers high-quality printing for very fine text at a high resolution. TTO can also print 2D or QR codes for traceability and brand recognition.

TTO ribbons can also be customised to reflect production environments and design requirements for different products. For example, ICE branded ribbons can be supplied for hot fill flexible packaging such as soup and sauces, as well as sporting a wide colour ribbon range to suit brand guidelines.

For full details on our Thermal Transfer Printers, including our Zodiac Hawk range, the first TTO printer of its kind that has print checking capabilities; contact us on where one of our coding experts can help find the ideal printing solution for your flexible packaging.

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