Small-Format Digital Printers

November 1, 2006

These four-color digital presses have a small footprint and offer converters another avenue for very short runs and variable imaging.

The growth of larger digital presses might be significant in the label industry these days, but there is certainly a market for digital printing machines that occupy less space and do not call for an investment as high as their big cousins. Small-format digital presses abound in printing shops around the world, and several of these are tailored to the narrow rollfed market.

While the majority of those installed are mostly likely black ink or single color printers, a handful of companies manufacture small color printing machines that produce images of high quality. Below is a sampling of companies and their products.

Primera Technology Inc., Plymouth, MN, USA

Primera Technology provides the LX810 Color Label Printer to the marketplace. The LX810 is an inkjet based printer designed to print short run, full-color labels at 4800 dpi print resolution. It prints full-color photos, text, graphics, illustrations, and bar code labels. Printed labels are scratch and smudge resistant and virtually waterproof, according to the company.

Targeted applications include primary product and box labels for cosmetics, specialty and gourmet foods, water and wine bottles, private label products, gift baskets, and premium items. Retail, office and industrial companies can also benefit from the use of the on-demand color printed labels.

Substrates include semi-gloss and high-gloss materials that are water resistant. Label size is as small as 0.75" (19mm) wide and 0.75" (19mm) long up to a maximum of 8.25" (210mm) wide and 24" (609mm) long.

The LX810 comes equipped with printer drivers for Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X version 10.2 or higher. NiceLabel SE, Primera Edition label design software is included for Windows users. Mac and Windows users can create graphics in any popular label design software. It interfaces either a PC or Mac with a high-speed USB 2.0 connection. Primera's LX810 costs $2,495.

Primera Technology Inc., Plymouth, MN, USA;  800-797-2772, 763-475-6676; www.primeralabel.com; sales@primeralabel.com.

Degrava Systems, Roswell, GA, USA

At Labelexpo Americas this year, Degrava Systems introduced the DP 8500, a dry toner based continuous system that prints four colors on laser approved converted or non-converted adhesive- backed paper and synthetic media as well as tag stock up to nine point. It has the capability of printing from PC or Mac graphics programs, managing sequential or variable data, making color corrections, and archiving jobs for future reprints. The company says no complicated training or special environmental or electrical setup is necessary. Print speed is up to 10 feet per minute.

The Degrava Color Pro (DCP) color management system includes a fully licensed Pantone color library and support for SWOP, Japan Color, Euroscale, and custom ink simulations. Color calibration is automatic, and precise color registration is maintained by Degrava's patented pinch roller system.

According to Mike Bertolani, executive vice president of Degrava Systems, the DP 8500 is the only digital press with the ability to handle up to 8.5" wide media with an 8.25" print image area for under $50,000 that addresses narrow web applications and those of the tag and label market.

"The Degrava DP 8500 is the answer for those organizations that want high quality, four-color labels and tags, and who want to build a digital business with a minimal investment," says Bertolani.

Degrava Systems, Roswell, GA, USA; 678-323-0340; www.degrava.com; sales@degrava.com.

VIPColor Technologies Inc., Newark, CA, USA

VIPColor offers the VP2020 digital color label printer to the marketplace. The printer can make color prints 300 x 600 dpi and 600 x 600 dpi. It prints on a wide range of materials including matte, semi-gloss, gloss, tag, material, transparent, and synthetic stocks. Labels and tags from 1" to 6" wide can be produced. The VP2020 has a heavy duty design with a durable steel frame and chassis for shop floor and warehouse environments. It is designed for ease of operation and integration into corporate infrastructures.

Users can print labels one at a time or generate entire rolls with variable content such as bar codes and serial numbers. The printer uses Bartender label software from Seagull Scientific and supports several operating systems (Microsoft Windows XP, 98, 98SE, ME, NT 4.0 workstation, NT 4.0 server, 2000 professional, 2000 server, and 2000 advanced server).

The printer is 18" (450mm) high, 24" (610mm) wide and 17" (425mm) deep. It weighs 94.2 lbs. (41.9 kg).

VIPColor Technologies, Newark, CA, USA; 800-404-3185, 510-744-3770; www.vipcolor.com

QuickLabel Systems, West Warwick, RI, USA

QuickLabel sells Vivo!, a high speed, direct digital, short run label printer that produces photo quality labels on rollfed stock. The Vivo! is aimed at moderate to high volume short run label printing jobs. The company says it is cost competitive with flexographic and other offset printing as well as other direct digital printing presses on label jobs of up to 15,000 labels per batch, based on a 4" x 6" size label with a medium amount of ink coverage.

The Vivo!'s print is glossy, durable, abrasion resistant, fade resistant, moisture resistant, and solvent resistant. It prints labels using an electrophotographic process similar to laser printing, but incorporates LEDs (light emitting diodes) rather than lasers. Its printing supplies consist of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black colored toner and rollstock labels developed for accurate color reproduction on the Vivo! and provided by QuickLabel Systems. The list price of the Vivo! is $24,995.

Quick Label Systems, West Warwick, RI, USA; 401-828-4000; www.quicklabel.com; info@quicklabel.com.
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