Solucan invests in second Cyclone

Canadian firm Solucan, which specialises in printing short run beverage cans, has installed a second Tonejet Cyclone in order to meet increasing demand in a validation of both Solucan and Tonejet’s approach.

Solucan’s second Cyclone production line uses the C4+ complete with Tonejet’s Can Primer digital decoration system.

Back in 2019 Solucan became the first customer worldwide to install a Cyclone C4 direct-to-pack digital beverage can printer at its state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility in Trois-Rivières in Quebec, Canada. At the time this chimed with environmental regulations outlawing some plastic shrink sleeves as the Cyclone cans can be completely recycled. The Cyclone enabled Solucan to embrace a new business model based on short runs printed direct to the can without using shrink sleeved cans and pressure sensitive labels. At the time, Sebastien Baril, President at Solucan, commented: “We consider the Cyclone a total game-changer and the backbone of Solucan’s offering – the quality is second to none and the ability to print using a food safe process is key.”

Now the company has added a second Tonejet, this time the new C4+, after beta testing it last year. The original Cyclone design, which I’ve previously covered here, has now been renamed the C4. This uses an electrostatic printing process and takes cans up to 330ml or 12oz but the C4+ uses a longer variant of Tonejet’s electrostatic printhead to print to cans up to 500ml or 16oz. The new C4+ also gains an upgraded user interface, simplified ink refills and active adaptable can handling to permit rapid changeovers in a variety of can sizes. The Cyclone C4+ is supplied as part of a pallet-to-pallet decoration line which is available in 60 and 120 can per minute configurations and includes a depalletiser and repalletiser as well as a Can Primer that can print to blank cans from any source. 

Solucan is also the first customer to take advantage of Tonejet’s new bright white primer, which should produce high contrast images with brighter whites and more saturated colours. The results are the same regardless of whether the blanks cans used are brite (clear-varnished aluminium) or white cans, meaning that customers can standardise on brites. However, this does only appear to work with the new C4+ model.

Rob Day, CEO at Tonejet, noted: “As can decorators know well, the can manufacturing process often leaves traces of machine oil on the neck of the can. Whilst this is washed off prior to filling, it is still on the can surface when it is printed. The Tonejet Can Primer cleans incoming cans and applies a thin film of ink-receptive primer fluid, ensuring outstanding adhesion and abrasion resistance once printing and over-varnishing which all takes place within the Cyclone C4+ is complete.”

Baril explained: “Our original plan was to swap our 12oz Cyclone with a Hybrid Press that would provide the ability to run either standard can format. During our first year though, we were surprised by the high demand for the 12oz cans. This persuaded us that the solution was to install a second production line to double capacity.”

He added: “Market reaction to our Tonejet technology has been phenomenal. Customers routinely tell us how affordable and sustainable it is to produce cans in short runs, featuring stunning print quality and full personalised/variable data. This technology is transforming their businesses and driving growth.”

Baril concluded: “The second Tonejet production line has provided everything we were looking for – can format flexibility as well as the ability to increase our overall capacity. Added to which, the new bright-white primer has been revolutionary. With recent shortages of white blanks, the new primer enables us to produce our own within the Cyclone system itself, eliminating the time and costs associated with sourcing and cleaning cans. A second machine also means that production can continue on both 12oz and 16oz formats simultaneously.”

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