Occupying six halls at Brussels Expo, it was – quite simply stated – the largest Labelexpo in the show’s 30-year history. It attracted 550 exhibitors (marginally up from 544 in 2009) who reported buoyant trading and high sales. Not surprisingly, therefore, by the end of the show, the organisers were delighted to announce that 81% of space had already been rebooked for the next event in two years’ time.
With several hundred product launches, Labelexpo was humming with live demonstrations on exhibitors’ stands, and these were complemented by other major attractions – notably the Digital Print Workshops and the Package Printing Zone (for more about the latter, go to page 67 of our e-mag).
The rise and rise of digital
There’s no doubt that digital was a major buzzword at Labelexpo. I recall making a similar remark two years ago, but in the intervening 24 months further major strides have been made.
This year there were 75 digital machines on show (42 of them were presses, the others were converting machines).
Digital has advanced to become a serious contender in the label printing stakes; yet is still seen primarily as a complementary process, rather than outright competition for traditional printing methods.
However, for many (including me!), the different technologies and the various contradictory claims present something of a minefield …
A huge hit, therefore, were the Digital Print Workshops which gave visitors an unprecedented opportunity to study three competing technologies (Xeikon’s dry toner, HP’s electro-ink and Jetrion’s inkjet) pitted against each other during live demonstrations run by an independent moderator.
Also evident at Labelexo was the way in which traditional label printing technologies are fighting back. While HP, Xeikon, Jetrion, Domino and others of that ilk are hard at work promoting the particular benefits of their versions of digital printing, conventional press manufacturers such as Mark Andy, Nilpeter, MPS, Codimag, Soma, Edale and Gidue are using automated prepress, digital workflows and on-press quality control measures to bring their flexo, letterpress and offset technologies closer to digital in terms of reduced makeready times and wastage factors.
As, for example, was reiterated on the Mark Andy stand: ‘It’s not about digital, it’s about performance!’
New business opportunities with Xeikon
So let’s get to some specifics.
The day before the show opened, some chosen journalists attended a press conference, followed by an evening of superb Belgian hospitality, courtesy of Xeikon, and its PR agency, duomedia.
It was only 18 months after my last visit to Xeikon’s imposing headquarters in Lier, Belgium (during the build up to Ipex 2010), but in the interim the company has clocked up a number of successes in its home market and worldwide. These were exemplified by three customer presentations – from Tapecon in the US, CS Labels in the UK, and the Australian/New Zealand-based Geon group – testifying to the enormous business successes achieved since the purchase of their Xeikon digital presses.
Among the day’s many interesting presentations from Xeikon executives, just one was the unveiling of the company’s industrial heat transfer technology. Delivering 1 200dpi image quality and just-in-time delivery, it offers an alternative to direct printing and in-mould labelling for decorating plastic containers. The system works with the Xeikon 3000 digital press and opens up new business opportunities for label printers.
This development meets growing demand from brand owners for higher-quality decoration and wider versioning capabilities. Containers made from a range of plastics including PP and HDPE can now be decorated with high-impact graphics and crisp sharp text to deliver maximum shelf impact.
Recent advances in light fastness of the QA-I toner used on the Xeikon 3000 series ensures colours don’t fade and remain perfect for their entire shelf life. And because it’s digital technology, there are no costly plates to be produced and set-up time is minimal – the perfect solution for short runs. Brand owners now have the flexibility to revise decoration in line with demand for specific product variants.
‘Traditional decoration techniques such as direct printing are struggling to meet the image quality levels demanded by the market,’ explained Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s marketing & business development manager for labels & packaging. ‘In-mould label technology scores well on the quality front but because it’s applied when containers are moulded it’s better suited to high-volume production with longer lead times. Our digital heat transfer solution enables printers to offer customers the best of both worlds – superior image quality for greater shelf impact and flexibility to decorate containers on a just-in-time basis. This opens up further business opportunities for label printers to start converting business away from the direct printing market into the label market.’
On its stand at Labelexpo, Xeikon showcased an impressive line-up of five solutions dedicated to digital label printing, including digital label presses, converting lines and integrated software. Pride of place went to the Xeikon 3500, billed as ‘the most productive digital label press available on the market’.
The show also marked the world premiere of Xeikon’s DCoat500 finishing system. Depending on the label printer’s production requirements, the DCoat500 can be placed inline or offline, making it a highly flexible solution – applying UV varnish or lamination, die-cutting (full rotary or semi rotary), slitting and rewinding.
HP’s first WS6600 sale
Business was brisk on the HP stand, where the local team from Kemtek was also in attendance. Sadly, however, Pierre Driver was hospitalised during the show.
Just one highlight during the show was the news that that Belgian firm, St-Luc Labels & Packaging, had bought the first HP Indigo WS6600 digital press.
Launched at the show, the new press boasts a range of hardware and software upgrades, including a production speed of 40m/min (compared to the HP Indigo WS600’s 30m/min), and features an inline primer unit to facilitate substrate treatment, reducing production times and cutting stock inventories and associated costs.
For St-Luc, this is the company’s first step into digital production. An established label producer, the company specialises in self-adhesive labels, film applications such as shrink sleeves, folding cartons and POS materials.
In August, St-Luc became the first label converter in Benelux to receive the HD-Flexo Certificate from EskoArtwork, whose software supports the technology. The next step for St-Luc was to ensure uniform quality for short runs and the company found the answer in digital printing, choosing HP as its partner to enter the digital arena.
Speaking to the press at Labelexpo, Alon Bar-Shany, VP and general manager of HP’s Indigo division, remarked: ‘There’s increasing demand among top global brands to produce colour labels and shrink sleeves on HP Indigo presses, based on superior quality print and rich colour. With the latest productivity enhancements, our customers can use Indigo presses to achieve this level of colour quality on almost any job length.’
Getting the job finished
AB Graphic International (another of Kemtek’s principals when it comes to digital label finishing and converting lines) highlighted its Digicon Series 2 inline with the HP Indigo WS6000 series and featured a new dual-finishing option that gives customers maximum production flexibility in determining how to convert each job.
The two companies have also joined forces to offer a novel bundle – a discounted press and finishing unit. This includes the HP Indigo WS4600 digital press and the AB Graphic Digicon Lite finishing solution.
Commented Tony Bell of AB Graphic International: ‘Labelexpo Europe 2011 exceeded all our expectations regarding orders taken for our equipment. This is a major event and we had our largest-ever stand accommodating 19 pieces of equipment, with additional equipment on the HP stand and in the Digital Print Workshop. We’re pleased with the encouraging results from Labelexpo, especially as we’re in the process of doubling our UK manufacturing facility.’
And here’s another snippet of information – HP Indigo production lines can now finish jobs quickly with a new offline system from Gallus. With this system, converters can perform offline finishing from two HP Indigo WS6000-series presses for greater throughput and shorter turnaround times.
End-to-end digital label production
EFI launched the Jetrion 4900, a revolutionary UV inkjet digital printing systems that combines high-quality digital printing with inline laser finishing for label converters. The new system makes short-run digital label jobs even more efficient and profitable by eliminating set-up time, substrate waste and inventory requirements associated with the label finishing process. It produces eye-catching, durable labels on an array of substrates.
By integrating printing and finishing for the entire production run, the Jetrion 4900 offers label converters substantial savings with no additional plates, dies, change overs and make-ready labour needed. By just migrating existing flexo jobs, the system is estimated to generate savings of more than €1 000/day.
EFI’s Jetrion 4900 is a versatile system that combines the proven performance of EFI’s market-leading Jetrion UV digital presses with an industrial web finishing and transport system. The Jetrion system prints four-colour and highly opaque white UV inks in a single pass, delivering flexo-quality labels that are heat, cold and chemical resistant.
The finishing system features high-powered dual lasers from SEI Laser Converting, offering comprehensive capabilities such as die-cutting, slitting and back-scoring on a wide spectrum of substrates from paper, foil and film to speciality stock. It runs standard flexo rolls and offers inline and offline modes for special jobs.
Gallus hits the mark
Gallus reported that sales of new presses reached double figures during Labelexpo. And based on the huge interest generated by innovations on show, and numerous promising meetings with potential customers, the Gallus team anticipates continuing strong business in the coming months.
The successful market début of the Gallus ECS 340 was just one highlight on the Gallus stand. This press sparked great interest among printers for the production of commodity labels.
The various innovations in digital printing also proved popular. These included the Gallus ECS C digital converting system and solutions for inkjet-based digital printing and a fully integrated digital workflow, presented in partnership with Heidelberg.
The complete solution for booklet applications, exhibited jointly with Longford, underlined the company’s response to growing demand for booklet applications arising from legislative changes.
Also well received was the Gallus Cold Die Unit for processing extremely thin substrates, developed in co-operation with Avery Dennison.
Inline flexo shatters short-run perceptions
As always, the Mark Andy/Rotoflex stand, the first to catch your eye as you enter Hall 5, was a hive of activity with non-stop demonstrations that seemed to be a magnet for South African label printers, where they were greeted enthusiastically by Paul Bouwer and Jacques Koekemoer of SArepco.
A big drawcard was the new Performance Series press; and the mantra on the stand was ‘It’s not about digital – it’s about performance’.
Short-run demand continues to dominate discussions in the label printing industry and Mark Andy has spent extensive R&D time and money to design a completely new solution to meet specific short-run demands, while addressing a variety of other converter challenges. Costs, set-up times and ease of operation are all arguments used to position digital printing as the sole solution for short-run projects.
The technology of Mark Andy’s Performance Series shatters these perceptions.
Central to its short-run capability is its revolutionary print station/print deck design. A plate roll system allows for repeat sizes as small as 140mm, extensively reducing plate costs. Similarly, ink costs are lowered thanks to the small amounts required for shorter production runs. New web path designs and advanced registration capabilities reduce set-up waste by as much as 60% compared to conventional inline flexo technologies.
The design also eliminates several operator steps to streamline productivity. Job set-up is quick and easy, resulting in fast and consistent makeready times; set-up of a four-colour job can be completed in just two minutes and a single station sets up in less than 30 seconds!
Ease of operation is another critical result of the print station design. The innovative load-and-lock inking system, self-positioning doctor blades, easy-to-operate controls and wide open access make this press simple and swift for any operator, regardless of skill level.
According to Mark Andy CEO, Paul Brauss, Labelexpo was the perfect storm for Mark Andy and Rotoflex. ‘Our line-up of Mark Andy Performance Series continues to grow in popularity throughout the world. We closed our 112th Performance Series sale during the show! Our Rotoflex line of inspection/rewind equipment also enjoyed a large audience for its Genesis upgrades and web handling system. We’re excited with our results and consider Labelexpo Europe the premier global selling exhibition.’
Advanced control from Rotoflex
Rotoflex displayed its most popular finishing models— a VLI 440, two VSI 330s and a DSI 330 – providing visitors a glimpse of its wide-ranging inspection, slitting, rewinding and die-cutting capabilities.
On each machine, and seen for the first time in Europe, was the operator-friendly Genesis advanced control system. With its simple HMI, all functions are easily monitored and faults clearly identified from a single screen. Integration of the system into multiple machines on the production floor allows operators to transfer easily from one machine to another without relearning the intricacies of a new control system. This advanced system detects missing labels in multiple lanes as well as detecting the presence of a matrix. With multi-lane counting, the converter receives accurate label counts for each roll and it counts and inspects a variety of label shapes, not just squares or rectangles, giving an accurate count of labels per lane, regardless of varying label shapes or lengths.
Nilpeter’s technology a major drawcard
Despite continuing recessionary problems, Labelexpo attracted record-breaking attendance, and this rubbed off on the Danish press manufacturer, Nilpeter, whose famous bell rang 22 times to record sales. The company also reported any number of solid enquiries.
With its theme, ‘We show you how’, the company introduced innovations for offset, flexo and integrated inkjet printing; and daily demonstrations for each were well attended.
‘We didn’t really know what to expect, but Labelexpo proved good value for us,’ commented sales director, Jakob Landberg.
‘Orders taken were evenly distributed over the range of presses displayed and came from a good geographical spread of new customers. In fact, we had visitors from all over the world. It was therefore a very positive and busy event that exceeded our expectations,’ Jakob added.
Among exhibits were Nilpeter’s new PMC-control centre. This was shown with a seven-unit MO-4 offset platform press, featuring three 17-inch touch screens for accurate control over UV-curing, electronic registration and remote ink control. Other features include error diagnostics backed by an on-line service function, job management data and on-line customer information. PMC is compatible with the international CIP3 operating standard. The fourth-generation MO-4 has a web width of 420mm and features a lightweight sleeve system for handling both long and short runs of premium-quality labels and packaging products. Configurations can include offset, flexo, hot/cold foil, rotary screen or gravure print units. Like other Nilpeter presses, the MO-4 can also include HoloPrint for producing print-registered holograms for brand security or promotional applications using a UV-cured varnish technique.
An eight-colour servo-driven FB-3300S UV-flexo press ran with Nilpeter’s new CleanInking flexo system, with an open/close doctor blade chamber for obtaining clean and easy job changes. The system enables storage of ink in the chambers off press – totally sealed. The label and packaging press also included the new Revolver Die System, based on the SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) concept. It allows operators to load successive solid tooling, or magnetic flexible die plate cylinders, into the module while the press is running and index them within seconds during job change. Both new systems are available for the entire Nilpeter product portfolio.
Nilpeter demonstrated its modular Caslon CMYK inkjet module printing high-quality paper and filmic labels. The 340mm-wide press line also included three FA-3 UV-flexo units – for printing varnishes, solid colours and/or white opaque inks for filmic labels – as well as inline rotary die-cutting. Automatic registration covered all processes. A Nilpeter VDP (variable data printing) system handled serial numbering on individual labels. The single-pass Caslon module uses Xaar’s 1001 greyscale print heads for VDP on the fly or for printing single copies of full-colour labels.
The modules can also run in a stand-alone mode with separate unwind and rewind units.
A huge success for Edale!
Edale revealed its eagerly-anticipated FL-350 servo-driven flexo press aimed at the high-quality label market. Demonstrations held three times daily drew large crowds who saw Edale’s print application engineer, Chris Chappel, running two separate jobs and breaking the industry-leading 90-second ‘Pit Stop Colour Change’ challenge. On day two he achieved a full print station colour change in just 71 seconds!
Edale reported the highest number of enquiries ever taken at a show – a mix of repeat and new business from all corners of the globe.
The waterless world
Waterless platemaking specialist Toray Industries and Codimag combined their expertise at Labelexpo to showcase a range of optimised flexible print production solutions for label and packaging markets. Equipped with Toray plate processing capabilities Codimag’s Viva 340 ran four jobs each day to highlight live changes, proof-matching and day-to-day reproducibility while the Viva 420 ran one job per day in combination with hot-foil. Both featured the innovative Aniflo unit (keyless anilox offset) that offers a predictable and repeatable print system, for reliable colour management.
Pascal Duchêne, Codimag MD, explained: ‘We’ve been active in waterless offset technology for label printing since 1999. We’re convinced that this technology brings many advantages to our customers. Printing labels inline in one pass improves register between the processes and reduces time and material lost in second or even third passes while optimising productivity. Codimag’s intermittent feed presses work with all sizes without the need to change cylinders or rollers while enabling fast make-ready, low waste and high productivity.’
Commenting on the Toray relationship, he adds: ‘We’re very pleased to work in partnership with Toray and show how the waterless world is much broader than label printing, with high quality newspaper, plastic card or commercial printing also achievable.’
API Foils shows new solutions
The API Foils team was out in force to showcase its innovative range of metallic foil and holographic decorative solutions, specifically driving interest in the recently-launched HoloNique and Seamless Rainbow products. Also present on the stand was the Cape Town-based team of Graeme and Jarad Aitken of United Foils International, API’s local agents.
Launched in January, HoloNique (which featured on PPM’s August issue front cover) saves time and money in the design process by using API’s extensive range of holographic possibilities in combination with customers’ own designs to provide customised, low-level security and visually stunning product enhancement.
Positioned to fill the gap in the market between ‘off-the-shelf’ holographics and ‘bespoke origination’ holographics, HoloNique combines numerous holographic patterns with an almost unlimited number of styles, effects and colours to provide customised, visually stunning, 2D/3D product enhancement. With mock ups produced in a matter of days and at hugely reduced costs, HoloNique allows brand managers to retain control over the entire holographic design process, giving them the flexibility and power to create the customised designs they want, while minimising product development costs.
In addition to HoloNique, API will was highlighting the benefits of its new double embossing machine which can produce ‘seamless’ designs and patterns. The machine has already allowed API to increase productivity and fulfil increasing demand for the ‘rainbow/super diffuser’ foil pattern. With this pattern notoriously difficult to manufacture, resulting in many inferior products circulating in the market, API believes the investment will help them to set a new quality standard for metallic and holographic decorative foils.
Perfect for the labelling industry, the technology enables shim lines to be eliminated completely, therefore allowing the production of seamless, continuous patterns. Suitable for all substrates, large area applications and for overprinting, the production of these seamless patterns can also reduce waste significantly.
Avery Dennison picks up challenges
Aside from Avery Dennison’s revolutionary ThinStream technology developed in conjunction with Gallus – hailed as one of the most significant advances in die-cutting in decades (see page 57 of our e-mag) – there were many other exciting labelling developments to be seen on this buzzing stand.
One was the Avery Dennison Curve Appeal system and Fasson Curvy – a clever machine/label combination that creates a wraparound look with the shelf appeal of pressure-sensitive graphics. This system applies labels to complex curved surfaces and reduces the need for two-ply label constructions, allowing the handling of complex container shapes and delivering up to 30% more space for primary labelling.
Selective wine and spirits brands use three-dimensional solid metallic cartouches and medallions to emphasise their exclusive, luxurious and authentic characters. However, this popular packaging component requires manual application and is rather expensive. Picking up the challenge, Avery Dennison has developed a better looking, cost-effective and automatic dispensing self-adhesive application: the Fasson Silver Foil Emboss.
Avery Dennison also introduced its Global MDO product, the latest addition to its innovative Machine Direction Oriented (MDO) film product line. The new film laminate bridges the gap between the high-performing MDO film range and PE85 film and features major productivity and sustainability improvements – including a significant reduction in web breaks, up to 50% less ooze, an inherently printable film and double the number of labels/roll – balanced with the on-shelf label clarity demanded for home and personal care applications.
Another of Avery Dennison’s innovations was what the company describes as ‘the thinnest conformable PE film label available for the food market’. Fasson PE-LG, with a 70µm face stock and a new high-tack adhesive, provides benefits for brand owners and label printers in the form of increased shelf appeal and performance and a strong price/performance ratio.
Prati pleased with sales
Labelexpo proved hugely successful for Prati with 21 signed sales and a raft of new leads. This busy stand attracted visitors from across the world who were keen to learn about Prati’s latest label finishing innovations.
Among the sales successes were two machines for VR Print in South Africa.
The main attraction was the cost-efficient servo slitter inspection rewinder Saturn, also in the Booklet version, capable of finishing booklet labels, and the modular and versatile VEGAplus converting line, available in 330, 450 and 530 web widths, that has a powerful platform for rewinding, slitting, die-cutting, overprinting/coating, inspecting operations.
‘If Saturn and VEGAplus were the sales queens, we can say that Pharmacheck consolidated its position as the 100% label inspection system that meets the strict demands of the pharma industry,’ commented sales director, Chiara Prati.
‘Our new DIGITplus is proving to be a reliable solution for finishing and laser die-cutting of digitally printed labels,’ she added.
Labelexpo provided Prati with an opportunity to introduce its new Saturn Linerless. This version of the slitter inspection rewinder features two interchangeable rewinder shafts to rewind lanes in an alternate mode, to avoid rolls sticking. This enables it to manage production of linerless label webs.
Label converters specialising in the beverage market were interested in the demonstration of the Jupiter equipped with Proxima, the advanced detecting system. It delivers improved operator usability with clear labels, even at maximum machine speed.
Great success for RotoControl
RotoControl took 18 orders for slitter/rewinder finishing machines during Labelexpo. They were a mix of repeat and new business from many regions of the world including India, UK, Germany, Jordan, Turkey and South Africa.
Marco Aengenvoort, MD, commented: ‘These results far exceeded our expectations – not only the number of orders, but also the volume of visitors to our stand. I’m certain the final number of confirmed orders will be even higher.’
Unveiled during the show was the new RotorControl EPOS option (electronic knife positioning system), which fully automates the slitting set-up, reducing job changeover to less than a minute even with shear systems using upper and lower blades. Choice of shear, razor or crush blades for use with any material and a placement accuracy of 0,15mm can provide hours of additional production time daily depending on job profile. Simply programmed from the machine touch panel and featuring all the benefits of the standard cartridge slitting system, the EPOS system is available as an option on all RSC, RSP and RSD machines.
EskoArtwork ties up with Antalis South Africa
Compelling news during Labelexpo was that EskoArtwork has entered into a relationship with Antalis South Africa to distribute a range of EskoArtwork products serving the flexo/packaging market, as well as the visual communication market. These include the complete flexo product line with
CDI flexo platesetters, HD Flexo and Digital Flexo Suite, the complete Suite 12 packaging software editors and workflow solutions, and the digital
‘EskoArtwork is obviously a leader in the packaging and flexo solutions arenas, and these products fit nicely with other products in our portfolio. Our goal is to work with the number one suppliers in each of the domains we serve,’ commented an elated Keith Solomon, director of graphics for Antalis South Africa.
Antalis South Africa already distributes EFI VUTEk superwide-format printers and rigid substrates, making EskoArtWork’s Kongsberg line of digital cutters an ideal fit. In addition. Antalis has a long-standing partnership with DuPont, which is important to this new arrangement since DuPont is a key EskoArtwork partner in its flexo business.
‘We’re pleased to have entered into this important relationship,’ said Armand Gougay, EskoArtwork’s VP EMEA. ‘South Africa is the business and economic hub for the African continent, and the partnership with Antalis will be a huge benefit over the long term. There’s tremendous potential in the Southern African market, where both packaging and wide-format printing are booming, growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world.’
‘One thing we definitely share with EskoArtwork is a passion for service,’ Keith added. ‘Our strong service and support group prides itself in providing optimal customer service. Working with a customer-oriented company like EskoArtwork makes it even easier for us to meet our customer service objectives.’
Ashe sells two of its four demo machines
Visitors to the Ashe Converting Equipment stand were able to see demonstrations of four of the company’s comprehensive range of labelstock slitter rewinders. Drawing particular attention from visitors was the Solitaire model, a narrow-web duplex filmic slitter rewinder, and an Opal model with die-cutting and
The Opal range of technically-advanced label inspection slitter rewinders uses Ashe’s specially-designed tension control that works without the use of clutches and sensors.
During this year’s show, Ashe was located in Hall 7 for the first time and reports the number of decision makers looking for new finishing equipment was very pleasing. Two of the four machines exhibited were sold during the show’s opening times and further sales were expected in the coming months from leads generated at the show.
The directors are also delighted with their South African sales record.
‘In the three years since Ipex Machinery took over our sales representation, we’ve sold 12 machines in South Africa,’ enthused an upbeat Matt Godbold. ‘It has been a real success story,’ he added happily.
Changing the guard at Accraply
On the busy Barry-Wehmiller/Accraply stand were Seamus Lafferty and Peter Ludlam, both well known in South African labelling circles. The latter, on the eve of retirement, was busy introducing his successor, Richard Howlett, who now takes over responsibility for South African sales of Stanford and Graham equipment.
Prime features of the stand were the Stanford AccraSeam shrink sleeve seamer, the Stanford DM6 doctor machine and the Graham modular zoned steam shrink tunnel.
The Stanford AccraSeam shrink sleeve seamer is billed as the fastest commercially available seamer on the market. It accurately seams material and holds lay-flat tolerances at 600m/min. Equipped with automated lay-flat adjustment, servo-based tool positioning and lay-flat monitoring with full reporting, the AccraSeam sets new standards in shrink sleeve converting.
The Stanford DM6 doctor machine is designed specifically for the narrow-web shrink sleeve and wraparound label markets and features particularly low tension. With carbon-fibre rollers, clever rider roll and dancer tension control systems, a cantilevered design and the ability to run web widths as narrow as 15mm, the DM6 is said to offer shrink sleeve inspection and narrow-web roll doctoring capabilities not previously possible.
The newest Graham shrink tunnel features individually adjustable steam zones and a modular stainless steel construction for on-site flexibility. Designed for tamper-evident banding or full-body applications, this shrink tunnel offers precise and repeatable set up for even the most complex shaped products. Graham equipment is supplied in South Africa by USS Pactech.
Début for Pulse’s optimised ink range
Ink manufacturer Pulse Roll Label Products, whose products are available in South Africa through Hi-Tech Inks, featured the latest developments in its range of inks and varnishes, including formulations for linerless, digital and food compliant applications.
EL165 is a UV flexo varnish for linerless applications. Blocking and ageing tests have shown that long-term release is the same as, and in some cases better than, standard cationic products. There’s also a cost saving of 20% over cationic varnishes. EL165 is complemented by EL088, a UV flexo semi-gloss release varnish for peel & read applications. Both products offer good adhesion and resistance properties and are suitable for use on coated paper and board and treated PE and PP substrates.
For use on digital presses, the Digitech range of UV varnishes is available in gloss, matt, super matt and foil blockable formulations. The range also includes a UV primer that allows inline UV printing or overprinting to accept digital inks. The formulations suit to a wide array of substrates including coated paper, board, coated thermal paper, treated and primed synthetics as well as aluminium foils.
Diversification from narrow-web to packaging
Also evident at Labelexpo was the rapid diversification of the narrow-web industry into multi-substrate packaging applications. For this reason, the Package Printing Zone was very popular. Here visitors could attend seminar sessions and see working machinery demonstrations designed to introduce label printers to opportunities in short- to medium-run package printing.
Among the presentations was one from Gidue, unveiling the company’s new Food Packaging Programme for UV flexo developed to support label converters entering the flexible packaging field.
Here Gidue MD, Federico d’Annunzio, reported on the recent installation of a new Master M5 630 digital flexo press at a major Italian label converter in line with Gidue’s latest development, a Master SL 630 solventless laminator.
‘The combination of UV flexo and inline solventless lamination is revolutionary for the flexible packaging market,’ he declared. ‘Our solution avoids any contact of UV inks with the reel (and with the food) by “protecting” the UV printed surface with a laminated film before rewinding. Risks of UV ink migration are virtually eliminated,’ he added.
Label converters already familiar with UV flexo technology can now enter the lucrative short-run flexible packaging market, with a limited learning curve, providing excellent UV flexo print quality, Federico maintained.
Gidue’s Food Packaging Programme for UV flexo reduces the need for legal and laboratory costs for food acceptance certification. It also increases overall converting productivity with a ‘all-in-one-pass’ printing and laminating process (over 70% of food packaging is laminated).
The Master SL 630 solventless laminator has been developed to offer short set-up times, automated operation and fast change of the lamination roller.
‘The combination of the Master M5 630 UV flexo press inline with the Master SL 630 solventless laminator is a serious opportunity for label converters looking for new growth areas. Label converters could start one step ahead by entering the flexible packaging industry, introducing the narrow-web established culture of short-runs efficiency, high print quality and creativity,’ Federico concluded.
The greatest show on earth!
As Roger Pellow, Labelexpo MD, sums up: ‘With such a large increase in visitor and exhibitors, Labelexpo Europe continues to live up to its tagline of “the greatest show on earth”. Despite the economic climate, it’s still the major platform for doing business, networking and seeing new technology and product launches. This year’s show clearly demonstrated that our industry is continuing to innovate and that the people within the industry have a “can-do” attitude. Likewise, printers and converters are still investing in equipment and services. With so much innovation taking place in the marketplace, Labelexpo Europe remains the must-attend event for anyone in the label and product decorating industry.’
Thanks, Roger. Couldn’t say it better myself!