Speaking from the iba trade fair in Germany last month, Laëtitia Peignet, area sales manager at Procys, said: “We see that the personalization of products is the future. We see it with Nutella, Coca-Cola, M&M's - everybody wants to be different."
Procys has developed an industrial line to print onto biscuits using a natural caramel-based ink. Manufacturers input a .bmp image into built-in software and can quickly change to print intricate designs on biscuit surfaces.
Procys is a French company based near Nantes with 13 employees. It specializes in automated equipment for the biscuits industry, supplying dosing, handling, distribution and loading technology.
“Today our customers use completely different systems with big rolls - it’s like a stamp,” said Peignet. “It’s not flexible because when you want to change the image you have to change the roll. Here we developed a software - when you want to change the image you have just to click....it will change automatically, you have nothing to do mechanically."
She added that changing current printing rollers was also costly as companies need to buy new rollers with an alternative design.
"I think the price of our machine will be higher at the beginning, but after it is very flexible,” she said.
The sales manager claimed that any design was possible. "You just have to integrate the software - a bitmap image with 400 dpi...you can write, you can make an image, photos, whatever you want."
Procys has tried to print on chocolate. Peignet said: "The ink is not staying, but we discussed yesterday with some chocolate manufacturer and they thought you have to try to print before crystallization and perhaps it could stay. So we are in the process, we’ve many trials to do." Prcoys printing system is currently suitable for biscuits and nougat.
Procys showcased its first prototype at iba that featured only one lane.
"The objective is to develop in the same printing system but in multi-lanes, so maybe 16 biscuit lanes and we print on each [biscuit],” said Peignet.
Prcoys expects industrial lines will have a capacity of 300-400 pieces per minute per lane.
The company has a commercial partner that produces the caramel-based ink
"We don’t use a lot of ink, so it cannot change the taste,” said Peignet.
She added that the caramel may be listed as an e-number in the EU, "But this is not azoic, so this is not dangerous for children - it's natural-based,” she said.
The company ran trials over a year ago and says the print quality on these products has remained intact.
Procys’ system currently prints only in a natural caramel color. "For marketing it’s easier to sell products with this color. We have only this color for the moment but we could develop other colors if a customer needs it,” said Peignet.
Procys expects the first machine will be in industrial use within the next four months.