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Heidelberg Label Days focuses on IML

By Steve Katz, Editor | October 17, 2013

At the Print Media Center, the Speedmaster XL 106-6-P+L UV with CutStar showcased its flexibility in producing high-quality in-mold labels.

Around 80 label industry professionals from around the world met at Heidelberg’s Print Media Center at its Wiesloch-Walldorf, Germany site on September 23-24. At the demonstration center, Heidelberg showed how its packaging equipment can be used flexibly and productively for industrial label production. 

Global demand for labels is currently growing at around 4.5% annually. Heidelberg emphasizes that the share of labels printed on sheetfed offset presses is showing string growth in particular. With a growth rate of 12% from 2006 to 2010, the print volume for this technology is expected to increase by 65% between 2010 and 2016. "This market segment still offers a great deal of potential for many print shops," said Heidelberg Management Board member Marcel Kiessling at the opening of the Label Days event. "The shift from flexographic to sheetfed offset printing shows that this technology meets the manufacturers' requirements for quality, productivity, flexibility, and sustainability in every respect. Our packaging printing solutions are ideal for label production."

Growth of IML
Label Days focused on the production of in-mold labels made of polypropylene (PP) in sheetfed offset, complete with workflow and postpress. Although this market segment currently makes up only around 2% of the total volume of label printing worldwide, it offers interesting growth potential, with an average growth rates of 5.6% forecasted through to 2020.

The Speemaster XL 106 with the CutStar sheeter
Heidelberg demonstrated the manufacture of in-mold labels via sheetfed offset on a Speedmaster XL 106-6-P+L with a CutStar sheeter. The machine processed a print job using a 60 µm EUP film from manufacturer Treofan in perfecting mode at a speed of 10,000 sheets per hour. In straight mode, a transparent 57 µm ETH film was printed at a speed of 12,000 sheets per hour. The jobs were printed using UV inks and a water-based coating. The sheets were dried using UV interdeck dryers and a DryStar UV Combination dryer in the quadruple-length delivery. Heidelberg offers its customers full flexibility in this area, with drying systems developed specifically for this segment involving additional drying units located after the coating unit.

“This perfecting press is an absolute first for the production of inmold labels printed on both sides," said Felix Müller, head of product management, Sheetfed at Heidelberg. "Given the growing demand for more information on packaging, this solution gives manufacturers the opportunity to print promotions or consumer protection information on the back of an in-mold label, for example." 

Heidelberg touts itself as the only printing press manufacturer to offer the Speedmaster XL 106-D rotary diecutting press for finishing film sheets. Customer demands for a more cost-effective alternative to flatbed diecutters prompted Heidelberg to develop a new system back in 2008. In the meantime, 11 rotary diecutting presses have been installed worldwide. Thanks to makeready times of approximately 15 minutes at production speeds of between 6,000 and 10,000 sheets per hour, the Speedmaster XL 106-D handles far more jobs each day than a flatbed diecutter, while the diecutting costs are around a third lower.

"Using a rotary diecutter for the production of in-mold labels is not only more cost-effective but also more flexible," added Paul Herrod, managing director of Australian label manufacturer John Herrod Associates. The company produces all its in-mold labels on a Speedmaster CD 102 and diecuts on a Speedmaster XL 105-D. "Fast job changes and much lower diecutting costs enable us to operate successfully on the market and remain competitive," said Herrod. The Speedmaster XL 106 and presses in the Speedmaster CX 102 and XL 75 series are also ideal for the production of in-mold labels. Printing can be performed using conventional inks and coatings, UV-only mode or a combination of UV and conventional.

Wet glue label finishing
A demonstration on a Speedmaster XL 106-LYY-8-LYYL with the FoilStar cold foil module ("L" stands for coating unit, "Y" for drying unit) showed how eye-catching wet glue labels can be produced both efficiently and flexibly using sheetfed offset printing. The two coating units before and after the printing units can be used, for example, to create attractive matte/gloss combinations. The modular cold foil module also enables partial metallic gloss effects, with the inline surface finishing system delivering significant time and cost savings throughout the process compared to offline solutions and full area, film-laminated substrates.

The Foilstar cold foil module produces eye-catching wet glue labels.
The Dymatrix 106 Pro CSB diecutter from Heidelberg ensures efficient finishing of wet glue labels after printing. The stripping tools are easy to set-up and work with the utmost precision, so that even complex jobs can be produced reliably and with a high level of productivity. The stripping and blanking station enables reliable stripping of the tiniest pieces of waste and supports clean separation, even with small repeats. 

The Prinect Packaging Workflow
Heidelberg has expanded its Prinect Packaging Workflow to include functions for label printing. These include, for example, a graphical object editor for the one-up check and tools for sheet optimization, including the creation of mixed forms. As the "central instance,” the workflow supplies the press with color data from prepress as presetting data, ensures transparency of the production status at all times, and allows for the analysis of actual production data for further process optimization, thus, significantly improving label production efficiency.

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