“The hybrid printing machine we can now offer will fulfill the required print quality in the shortest possible time and lowest cost price per 1,000 labels,” says Eric Hoendervangers, MPC’s cofounder and managing director. “We are convinced that hybrid technology is the future for label and packaging printing. Not just because of its fantastic flexibility and capability, but the packaging market needs solutions for optimized (brand) color accuracy, brightness and sharp details.”
As an OEM supplier, Drent Goebel once made the offset heads for Nilpeter’s MO-3300 combination presses. It also makes customized narrow and midweb offset presses, as well as the shaftless Vision and VSOP series for labels and packaging. The Nilpeter connection goes back to 1994 and effectively heralded the concept of offset based combination presses designed to serve the top end of the market. Other press manufacturers selling either full rotary or semi-rotary offset presses with conventional or waterless offset print heads include Codimag, Etipol, Iwasaki, Gallus, GiDue, and Sanki.
While mainstream label converting will remain a flexo stronghold in most global markets, several top-end converters in Europe see offset as a serious challenger to UV flexo in certain niche markets despite a narrowing of the quality gap and much higher investment costs. This is partly due to market pressures. Many large-volume buyers demand high quality print with a repeatability aided by proven international standards. Also, offset offers the flexibility of printing most types of paper and film substrates, including those with textured surfaces. This explains why so many wine labels are printed both web and sheetfed offset. Lately, specialized flexible packaging applications, including tube laminates, have opened up new markets for many offset press operators who have benefited from cheaper platemaking costs.
The presence of some heavyweight press makers adds an interesting angle to the reelfed offset scene. Drent Goebel, which acquired Montreal based RDP Marathon and has facilities in Holland and Germany, only seriously entered the label/packaging market after seeing a decline in their core sectors, namely business forms, security printing and direct mailers. Much the same applies to companies like Muller Martini, Edelmann Graphics, Rotatek, and Castiglioni (now linked with GiDue). Their press lines tend to feature the latest in automated controls, nonstop web feeds and servo driven press functions. Variable-size print cassettes and/or sleeve/plate options are other features of these big-ticket machines. More than most, therefore, they are hoping for further consolidation at the top end of this globalized industry.