In 1970 a short piece of news appeared in the pages of The Times newspaper on the K Hand Proofer designed and developed by RK Print Coat Instruments. This was spotted by one of the founders of Japanese company Matsuo Sangyo, who then sent a hand-written letter asking for more information. Within a matter of months Matsuo undertook market research, took delivery of a K Gravure Proofer together with an interchangeable Flexographic Proofing head and became the sole distributor on November 10th 1970 for RK Print Coat Instruments colour communication proofing devices for flexo and gravure printing and coating systems.
Matsuo Sangyo have recently set up a Techno Division to enable research and development into new areas associated with energy efficient products and materials. This includes but is not limited to: solar cells, fuel cells, optical films for flat panel displays and nano-technology. In recent years the printed electronics market has been attracting attention.
RK Print Coat Instruments are active in the aforementioned markets having supplied bespoke high-tech VCM pilot and production systems for latent imaging, solar reflective films, fuel cells, batteries and much more. The market for printable electronics that RK are also involved with increasingly makes use of print processes such as flexography, gravure and digital/digital/flexo hybrid and other technologies.
Printable electronics is viewed as a high growth market that provides enormous opportunities. So, it is therefore fitting and appropriate that RK Print Coat Instruments space saving colour communication or proofing devices such as the FlexiProof, the K Printing Proofer, the K Control Coater and other quality control and product development tools are on site at the Tokyo branch of Matsuo Sangyo, enabling customers to view and trial materials.
Over the course of the last half-century the way in which most businesses operate and the very products that are produced, presented and marketed have of course changed. Products once regarded as – ‘At the cutting edge’ – in time became commodity items. More often than not these were then replaced by other products or goods that could be made more efficiently than in the past using new or improved processes, materials, consumables and technology. All of these new and often highly visibly branded goods being bought and sold to more and more affluent consumers in many more countries than before encouraged consumerism and became an important engineer of growth and development in print and packaging products – after all everything has to be contained, protected and presented well. Few countries have a more grounded and deserved reputation for ‘presentation’ and innovation than Japan.
Japanese packaging is regarded by many as being a work of art and is certainly in a class of its own. The packaging industry is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and is derived from Buddhism and Shinto, which recognizes the spiritual essence of nature and the beauty in humble objects including print and packaging. Materials and colour take on precise meanings and attention is paid to ensuring colour is displayed accurately and that the package enhances the whole overall purchasing experience.
With regard to packaging printing in Japan, the growth of flexible packaging very much mirrors the changes in lifestyle that affect consumers in many other countries. Consumers want packaging that is more convenient, that protects and preserves food for longer; that is easier to store and use and ideally with re-sealable enclosures. In Japan the snack food sector, eating on the go and deli-products are the areas for flexible packaged food that exhibit the fastest growth rates.