As we are constantly reminded, a major attraction of digital color printing is its capacity to open up new business opportunities, including some that do not even exist at present. In recent years this factor has rightly begun to assume greater significance among prospective users, rather than just the nuts and bolts of how it all works. With this in mind, it’s interesting to examine the quite different approaches of two British label converters. One is a market-hardened user that has just installed its second digital press, while the other is a new kid on the digital block.
The former is Eclipse Marketing Solutions of Hull in East Yorkshire, which is the first UK user of a web-fed HP Indigo ws2000. (In 1995 it became the first European company to adopt an Indigo Omnius Webstream.) The company supplies prototype packs to the confectionery industry. Besides providing advance samples for sales people, the packs are also used for pre-launch advertising campaigns. The average print run is 400 copies and materials can range from shrink sleeve films to foils and carton board.
“We’re as near to achieving the real thing as you can get,” said managing director Brian Cooke. “While a printer or a designer might be able to visualize what a finished product will look like, marketeers and brand managers prefer to evaluate a prototype based on the actual packaging material to be used.”
He expects that the new digital press will help Eclipse develop new markets and triple current turnover within the next five years. It boasts full variable data personalization in up to six colors, a reregister facility and various in-line finishing solutions including electronic collation. Tiling several frames together allows the production of large-format images for certain samples.
Hi-Tec Labels Ltd. of Peterborough seeks to exploit the variable imaging capabilities of its new Nilpeter DL 3300, rather than rely solely on short runs. The Xeikon print engine offers CMYK plus white and prints at up to 45 feet per minute. In-line converting equipment includes a web buffer with tension control, UV flexo varnishing plus laminator, a digitally-controlled rotary diecutter, waste rewind and optional sheeter.
Reinsertion guides allow both double-sided (duplex) printing, or the digital imaging of pre-printed webs to a maximum printing width of around 11". Hi-Tec Labels can therefore offer a trade service to other converters who require personalized labels, tags and tickets, including those with sequential bar codes. Optional “wallpaper” imaging software allows gapless printing for such items as advertising banners or decorative materials.
“The press configuration gives us the potential for a very diverse operation producing both roll-fed and sheeted digital products,” says John Sidaway, who formed the company with partner Eddie Holmes. “Users tend to be from data-base oriented firms with computer-literate designers.” Hi-Tec is already considering a second Nilpeter DL-3300 and recruiting six extra staff in the near future.