AJ Buran is a well-known figure in the printing and packaging industry, a founder of GOpak who currently serves as president of sales. GOpak is a printing company using electron beam (EB) technology to supply scalable and sustainable solutions to end users. Buran was kind enough to be interviewed for this issue’s article after RadTech was introduced to Buran through his connection to nonprofit organization Thistle and Bee, a 2022 RadTech Sustainability Award winner.
GOpak is the printer for Thistle and Bee, helping the company package its honey and granola while also serving the company’s greater mission. Thistle and Bee is a nonprofit that helps women break the cycle of exploitation and poverty, offering hope and healing through a holistic residential and therapeutic clinical program and employment in its collective farm that produces and sells honey and products such as granola. The company was looking for a recyclable and premium-looking package when it found GOpak.
Give me a quick bio for you and for GOpak.
“Labels, shrink sleeves and folding cartons are where I got my start in the packaging and printing industry over 30 years ago. As a salesperson, I supplied packaging to multiple markets across the country in food and beverage, health and beauty, nutraceuticals, light industrial and snack foods. Seeing the growth potential in flexible packaging and digital printing, GOpak started in 2019 as a digital production printer and converter of completed pouches and roll stock products. While most companies pursue the lamination route, GOpak chose electron beam specifically for speed-to-market and sustainability purposes.
What was your first experience with EB?
Prior to starting GOpak, we visited PCT and saw EB curing for the first time. Understanding its ability to deliver speed and sustainability improvements to our future customers, we chose to invest in electron beam technology.
What is the best application, in your opinion, for EB?
Flexible packaging. We use it to cure our overprint varnishes. Using it to cure adhesive while laminating is another great application. The cross-linking makes it more durable, and instant curing is perfect for speed to market.
What are the sustainability benefits of EB?
EB coating can eliminate a layer of film. Instant curing eliminates set-aside time, which can include hot boxes. No solvent or chemicals are used, and the footprint is smaller because makeready is reduced to a few feet compared to traditional laminating. Also, no photoinitiators are used, so EB is food safe.
What could be better from a sustainable perspective about EB?
I believe EB curing is the best sustainable answer in our market; however, it does not meet 100% of the needs of all applications. For example, we have yet to find a high-quality and durable soft-touch solution.
What is the future and what would you like to see?
I would like to see soft-touch solutions, textures and coatings with barrier.
How does EB help meet sustainability goals?
Since EB cures instantly, GOpak consistently completes HOT rush orders to customers without stressing the system. Also, since EB does not add an extra layer, GOpak successfully supplies customers that use industrial and residential compostable packaging materials.
It seems EB technology is a great solution for many end users especially in the food packaging industry. With that idea in mind, RadTech will regularly highlight sustainable end users of UV, EB and UV LED technology through the Green Buyers Guide. The Green Buyers Guide will give a short bio of an end-use company and why the company continues to choose energy-curable technology to meet its packaging needs. Watch for the Green Buyers Guide at www.radtech.org in the Sustainability Section. To share an end user of UV, EB and UV LED technology, send the candidate to firstname.lastname@example.org.