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Focus takes aim at future trends

Hybrid printing developments were on show

In late March, UK-based printing equipment manufacturer Focus Label Machinery opened its doors for an event that promised attendees a glimpse into the future of label printing.

Alongside the established trends of short run label production and variable data printing, this saw LED curing and multi-layer labels for extended content and peel and read applications looked at in more detail, both through hardware and the consumables involved.

A 6-color Focus Proflex 330SE servo-driven flexo press was shown with rail mounted delam/relam, cold foil and multi-layer label facility. This press was chosen for presentation to show high quality printing of complex labels on a mid-range flexo press, notes Antony Cotton, technical sales manager at Focus Label Machinery. 

Another press on show was a Focus e-Flex 330 – also a 6-color, full servo flexo press – equipped with a Phoseon FireJet FJ601 LED drying system. This was on hand to show LED high opacity white + CMYK + spot color printing onto unsupported BOPP at up to 150m/min.

The 2018 edition of the open house saw Focus present its first UV LED press, with an e-Flex equipped with Phoseon TargetCure technology, including on the white station. Focus Label Machinery has also previously partnered with Nazdar Ink Technologies in an effort to grow UV LED technology within the label converter market in the UK and EMEA. This sees the two businesses working closely together to demonstrate the efficiency of UV LED curing. With a mutual interest in the technology, both companies share an objective to showcase how – alongside traditional products – UV LED curing technology is a commercially-viable option for label and packaging producers.

Another trend to be seen at the 2019 Focus open house was hybrid printing. Readers of Labels & Labeling will have seen a number of articles in recent issues detailing the growth and potential in hybrid printing. It continues to be a hot topic in the industry and looks set to secure a greater share of the market in the future as the benefits of combining conventional and digital printing are realized.

Focus has capabilities in this area, and highlighted them by showing a d-Flex Hi-Q hybrid UV inkjet/flexo press with in-line finishing. This features Konica Minolta KM1800i printheads, printing at speeds up to 50m/min.

‘We chose this configuration to show the wide flexibility for combination variable data printing at production speeds up to 50m/min with digital and 120m/min in flexo,’ comments Cotton. 

UK printer Last Bros is an existing customer for the d-Flex Hi-Q hybrid line and can pay testament to such productivity. Its press is configured with two flexo stations and a CMYK UV inkjet unit, as well as full finishing in-line, allowing production to be modelled to suit their varying products and applications. 

Dean Latchford, frontline sales manager at Last Bros, says: ‘We were looking initially to bring work over from the existing label presses and also potentially migrate some of the litho and flat sheet digital side of the business. This has exceeded the initial expectations and I am pleased to say I have been able to bring in new contracts and customers because of the flexibility of the press and we are now running consistently over the working week which makes the ROI achievable, but in a quicker time.’

Latchford’s colleague Simon Foster, print room manager at Last Bros, adds: ‘Initially it came in to pick up some of the work of two other presses, but its increased speed has helped us keep up with the demand for shorter runs that is emerging in the market and bring in new work and offer different applications.’

Partners 
Focus was joined at the open house by a number of supply chain partners, including Industrial Inkjet, Phoseon Technology, Herma UK, Flint Group, Meech International, Nazdar Ink Technologies, Lundberg Tech, Cheshire Anilox Technology and Business Asset Warranties. While much of the technology from these partners featured directly on the presses presented, Lundberg Tech had a WasteTech 80 matrix handling system working on an FS330 blank label converter/slitter rewinder. WasteTech 80 is an all-in-one system to capture, cut and collect waste matrix and edge-trim waste.

Cotton notes such partners as ‘extremely important’, saying: ‘We wanted to convey the importance of strong industry partnerships in order to provide the best possible packages, expert technical advice and solutions for our customers.’ 

He continues: ‘We would like to thank all our partners, suppliers and visitors who attended over the two days and helped make the event another great success. We were very pleased with the turnout and look forward to building on this and making the event a regular feature in the calendar. We believe that having multiple live demonstration models, along with the support of our partners and their respective technology, make this a unique event with a great opportunity to informally network whilst seeing live equipment demonstrations.’ 

David Pittman

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David Pittman is former deputy editor of Labels & Labeling.

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