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New press makes labels

September 13, 2006

New press makes labels
for hazardous substances
Occasionally this column gets to hear about a PR application story that penetrates its stringent “ho-hum, so what” barrier. The installation of a five-color Mark Andy 2200 UV flexo press at Hibiscus plc in Leeds, UK, is interesting because it reveals another aspect of just how specialized the European self-adhesive label industry has become. Many more converters now produce just a few ranges of label products. It is mainly influenced by trends in global end user markets, technical advances and the development of newer labeling applications are big influencers. In a few cases, however, the specialization comes from a background of inside knowledge to meet a known application. Hibiscus is a good example. It earns its money from producing labels and signs intended for use with hazardous substances. Its range of customers is said to read like a Who’s Who of the chemical world.
In this business, compliance with national and international safety legislation is essential, which implies an in-depth understanding of the chemical industry. The labels must also meet stringent legislative requirements, including light fastness, print key effectiveness, abrasion resistance, and adhesion in sea water. The fact that the company founders, Dorothy (Dot) and Brian Killerby, had a chemical industry background obviously helped shape the company’s aim over the past 25 years in developing and refining a classic “one stop shop” for the labeling of hazardous substances.
The company’s services include label design and printing, as well as developing computer software sold to customers worldwide. It holds more than 20,000 pieces of artwork to cover all labeling variations, while over a million standard legislative labels are held in stock at any one time. Initially, no commercially available label presses could fulfill the company’s requirements. Hibiscus therefore designed and built its own printing presses. The installation of its first proprietary press in 1999 is said to have involved a steep and painful learning curve.
More recently the need for additional capacity prompted the company to examine the press market before it eventually chose the 10" wide 2200, which is acknowledged as one of Mark Andy’s most specialized of recent sales. The press meets a production pattern where a run of 20,000 labels is a long run. Apparently, its fast makeready features, while keeping wastage of expensive substrates to a minimum, were among the reasons for the choice.

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