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  • 17 Oct 2012

Digital printing

Andy Thomas and Danielle Jerschefske report on the new digital printing equipment seen at Labelexpo Americas

It was interesting at this Labelexpo to see, for the first time, the ‘big three’ conventional press manufacturers all showing digital print solutions.

New for the US, Gallus showed the Heidelberg Linoprint L inkjet press along with the ECS C digital label converting system. This was shown as part of a hybrid workflow solution pulled together by the CERM MIS (CERM is now a Heidelberg owned company) and Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow solution.

The Linoprint L, based on the CSAT technology acquired by Heidelberg, has a native resolution of 600 x 600dpi using Kyocera heads. The ECS C digital converting system is based on the ECS 340 ‘rock’ press and features a format-free die-cutter, front loading sleeve system, chambered doctor blade, presetting and an extremely short web path.

Mark Andy introduced its own digital solution with the launch of the SRL 4.0 digital label printer, based on OKI’s CMYK toner technology and available in eight and a half inch to 12.6 inch web widths. The SRL 4.0 can print on a variety of qualified materials with no pre-coated substrate requirements. Resolution is 600 x 1200 dpi and it comes equipped with server and software for a turnkey solution. Mark Andy has off-line die cutting and laminating solutions available.   

Currently available in the North American market, the SRL 4.0 will be rolled out globally in 2013.

Nilpeter showed its established Caslon hybrid flexo/inkjet press with the new white ink station, which can also be used for a spot-color or digital varnish. Nilpeter says the white inkjet ink is comparable to ‘conventional flexo and screen inks’ and offers a high degree of ink adhesion, as well as high scratch resistance without the need for varnishing.

The purely digital version of the Caslon is being marketed by FFEI, and that company was demonstrating its RealPro Digital Labeler software, incorporating advanced ink handling and automated step & repeat tools.

Omet announced the commercial availability of the JetPlus CMYK inkjet module which made its debut at drupa and can be configured either as a standalone press, or as a module on the XFlex X6 or Varyflex press.

Toner solutions

HP used Labelexpo to announce that Innovative Labeling Solutions (ILS) will be among the first three beta installations of its 30-inch HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press (see L&L3 2012). The other two converters are Belmark in the US and UK-based Shere Print, the digital arm of flexo packaging printer Ultimate Packaging. The B2 format 20000 is targeted squarely at flexible packaging and film label applications and is expected to raise significantly the cut-off point between conventional and digital print processes.

For the first time in the US, HP Indigo demonstrated a WS6600 Digital Press with Enhanced Productivity Mode, which increases print speed by dropping the black ink and using only the CMY stations. Michelman meanwhile announced a new primer for the WS6600 Inline Priming (ILP) unit. Michem ILP040 extends ILP media compatibility from paper-based substrates to synthetic media.

SecurePack, a system dedicated to cGMP compatible production of pharmaceutical packaging was also demonstrated. Currently in beta testing, it will be available for HP Indigo WS6000 and WS6600 users worldwide by Q4 2012. 

HP finishing partners AB Graphic International and Karlville demonstrated end-to-end production of the full range of packaging products, including digitally printed labels, shrink sleeves, folding cartons and flexible packaging.
Xeikon concentrated its fire on demonstrating in-line printing and converting of cartons – including a clear, screen-like digital varnish - and integrating its X-800 front end with laser die cutting units.

On the Laser Die Cutting Workshop, Xeikon and its workflow partner Hybrid Software were showcasing Vectorizer,  which generates vector-based die cut profiles saved as ‘frames’. Barcodes printed next to the labels on the digital press tell the laser die cutting system which of the frames to use, allowing both designs and die cut profiles to be changed on the fly.

Xeikon announced at the show a global partnership with Label Vision Systems (LVS), which specializes in in-line inspection of variable data and barcodes. On the Xeikon stand an LVS 7000 inspection unit was integrated with a Xeikon 3300 press, with finishing off-line on a Delta unit.

Xeikon also introduced Color Control, a cloud-based color management and optimization software tool for label and packaging applications.

OKI emerged at the show as the supplier of a toner-based digital print engine to a  number of OEMs, and demonstrated its own OKI pro511 digital web press for the first time. The system is capable of printing on pre-die-cut or unconverted roll label stock. Features include integrated print server, Harlequin RIP, and Hybrid front-end software, plus a heavy duty rewinder with a pre-assembled slitter.

Allen Datagraph uses the OKI Data LED toner engine in its new iTech Centra HS Digital Label Printer and Finishing system, geared towards capturing run lengths between 1,000 – 4,000ft. Print speed is up to 30 ft/min with media width capability between eight and a half inches – 12.9 inches. The finishing system uses an HPGL vector cutting system compatible with a SmartMark opto-electrical sensor, which reads multiple registration marks while running. It can laminate, die-cut, strip matrix waste and slit custom labels in a single pass.

The company expects to close up to 15 units by the end of the year. It sold two complete systems to Australia, a finisher to Venezuala and a finisher to Japan to be used in combination with the Epson SurePress.


Durst launched in the US its wider, 330mm (13in) Tau 330 digital inkjet press (see L&L3 2012), which is also available with a narrower, 200mm (eight inch) web (designated the Tau 330/220).

As noted in L&L’s drupa review, the native print resolution of the Tau 330 has been increased to 720x360 dpi with grayscale enhancement. Also on display was the Variable Data Print option with “insetter” functionality to print on pre-die-cut or pre-printed labels.

The company demonstrated at the show both a high opacity white UV inkjet ink and a silver metallic UV ink. Christopher Howard VP sales and marketing at Durst Image Technology US, told journalists: ‘We can now run silver at 65-95 ft, or 20-30 m/min, and the cost of running a four by six inches beer label with 13 percent coverage is one dollar per 1,000, so very cost effective on short runs.’ Currently only papers are approved for the UV inkjet silver, but Durst is working on qualifying film substrates.

Durst also announced the availability of an integrated Nikka web inspection system, in-line corona for printing on films, web cleaning options and an optional cooling system for heat sensitive materials.

Stork Prints showed a13in (330mm) version of its modular DSI UV inkjet printer, printing and finishing in one pass with semi-rotary flexo and die cutting/rewinding. Stork stressed the modularity of the DSI, which is now shipped with 10 print positions. These can accommodate any combination of CMYK, orange and violet or spot colors, digital white and now an in-line digital primer, allowing the press to work with any substrate in a color managed environment, including machine coated paper. An advantage of an inkjet primer is only using coating where the ink will be applied, minimizing waste. A water cooled chill drum on the curing station allows heat sensitive substrates to be handled. The company offers a wider platform of 530 mm for packaging applications. A video demonstration live from the show can be watched here

EFI sought to differentiate its Jetrion UV inkjet press range with the launch of the 4900ML and 4900M-330 variants. The 4900ML integrates laser die cutting in-line, while the 4900M-330, launched at the show, features a wider 330-mm print width, making it not only more productive, but compatible with existing 13in tooling held at converting houses. This machine is designed as a modular solution with finishing either on- or off-line.

Newly developed EFI Radius workflow tools for the 4900ML series extend its capabilities into flexible packaging and allow integration into multiple company sites. The first 4900ML in the United States was purchased by

Domino Printing Sciences launched its single color K600i piezo UV inkjet module, designed to integrate variable data printing into existing sheet, web-fed presses and finishing lines – effectively acting as a ‘digital black plate’. Also configurable as a standalone digital press, the K600i delivers 600dpi native resolution at speeds of up to 75 meters (246ft)/minute. It can be configured for print widths up to 557mm (21.96”).

Epson America showed its SurePress L-4033AW inkjet label press for the first time with white ink. The L-4033AW uses seven Epson SurePress AQ water-based inks - CMYK plus orange, green and now white. The water-based inks will image a wide range of substrates without pre-coating including gloss, semi-gloss, matte, film, and clear and metallic substrates, says Epson. The press supports variable web widths up to 13-inches wide and materials up to 0.013-inches (0.32 mm) thick. Print speed is up to 16 feet a minute.

Colordyne introduced the CDT-1600 PC Sprint inkjet press, powered by Memjet imaging technology. The 1600 PC Sprint can print on both pre-die-cut labels and non-die-cut master rolls and is available with the Colordyne 1600 PC Pro in-line finishing system. The 1600 PC Sprint prints at 160 feet/minute in full process color (CMYK) plus one spot color at 1,600 dpi.

At the show Colordyne announced it sold the first 1600 PC Laser Pro with an inline LasX Industries’ V400 Laser diecutting system that can kiss-cut, slit, or perforate. It reportedly sold five of the PC Pro units in total with rotary die finishing units supplied by AzTech. Colordyne announced Delfax as its distributor in Latin America – a new market for the supplier.

iSys introduced the Edge 850 digital label press with printing speeds up to 30 ft/min (9.14 m/min). The Edge 850 can print on a variety of die cut, kiss cut or roll substrates and comes complete with a rewinder and Edge2Print label production software.

Powered by Memjet inkjet technology, OwnX is a Hungary-based supplier that featured its SpeedStar 3000 label printer. The SpeedStar has a printable width of 8.67” and is able to deliver PS labels in roll-to-roll, fan-fold, and pre-converted formats. Finishing equipment can also be supplied.

Roland DG demonstrated the multiple capabilities of its VersaUV LEC-330 UV printer/cutter, which can produce matte and gloss finishes – including embossing and other tactile effects – in a single pass. The system prints, contour cuts, perf-cuts, scores and creases virtually any flexible or rigid media. 

Screen launched its Truepress Jet L350UV inkjet press with a print width up to 322mm (12.6in) and top speed of 50m (164ft) per minute. The L350UV uses Screen’s proprietary high-definition UV inks with optional opaque white ink and prints at resolutions of 600 x 600dpi and 600 x 1,200dpi.

Shiki showed its UV inkjet digital printing press with a running speed of 50m/min using UV-LED curing. It can print on widths up to 350mm.

Super Web Digital, a first time exhibitor at Labelexpo, introduced its Super Web DCOMM 100 Label Press, powered by Memjet technology. The DCOMM 100 Label Press hits speeds up to 160 ft/min, achieves 1600 dpi, prints five colors plus a spot on web widths up to nine inches wide.

Laser and thermal

Primera reported a successful show with more leads than previous years, writes Danielle Jerschefske. The company had a soft launch for its DL500 durable label printer that conforms to FDA regulations for labels. It also promoted its X-Series color label printers, AP-Series label applicators, CX-Series color label presses and the FX1200 Digital Finishing System.

Polykote promoted RevealPrint, a system which users color printing  on thermal printers without special ribbons, inks or printheads. Depending on the application, users can print multiple colors on the same label all in one pass through a standard direct thermal printer. The technology works on any direct thermal printer, 203dpi through 600dpi, and at typical heats and speeds.

Pictured: Roger Pellow, MD Tarsus Labels & Packaging Group; Wilfried Koopman , MD Stork Prints, and Mike Fairley, in front of a 330mm DSI inkjet press

This article was published in Labels & Labeling issue 6, 2012


Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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