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At its headquarters in Dortmund, the KHS Group has provided approximately one thousand square meters of new space for the expanding Direct Print innovation team. The Direct Print space includes a dedicated area for sample printing, as well as space for industrial validation platforms for confirmation and extended testing of new features such as bottle orientation, print inspection, ink management, specialized design materials and verification of controls and new components. The engineering team has the ability to fully test each new parameter industrially before taking them to the field.

The software engineers are completing the Direct Print artworks management software platform which will enable brand owners to change decorations within minutes, and leverage impressive variable image capability at industrial speeds of 12,000 up to 36,000bph. Katrin Preckel, who leads the printing team, comments: “Our technology will not just be transferring decorations from our customers’ design agencies. Direct Print dedicated artworks specialists are finding new ways to implement printing techniques to PET bottles which are only possible with digital inkjet. Those capabilities will be key parameters of our artworks management platform, with dedicated customer specific space in the cloud for each Direct Print Powered by KHS™ customer.”

The Direct Print solution is a combination of specially co-developed low-migration LED-UV cured inks from AGFA Graphics which are jetted by specifically implemented print heads to bond to the untreated PET bottle surface, yet are approved for PET bottle-to-bottle recycling. Direct Print Powered by KHS is a combination of inks, print heads, software, sample printers and industrial scale technology. Martin Schach adds: “Developing digital print specifications and guidelines, as well as training programs for first Direct Print implementers build a big part of our focus. Our technology will enable beverage customers to shift from traditional labelling to digital decoration over the coming years. Thereby, they are greatly reducing time to market, packaging materials and changeover downtimes on their line. Direct Print is giving customers a new brand engagement tool to grow their brands.”

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