Mark Andy's booth at Labelexpo drew crowds
throughout the three-day event.
Although attendance was down from previous years, Labelexpo Americas 2008 was described by many exhibitors as a "quality" event, attended by the right people from productive converting companies from North and South America and beyond.
"We didn't have the traffic that we had in past years," said Pat Hague of Water Ink Technologies. "But I have to say that the people who came by were the ones that we really wanted to see. They were the right individuals."
Tarsus, the show producer, reports attendance of 12,200 for this year; the number in 2006, the last time Labelexpo was in Chicago, was reported at 13,200.
Dean Scarborough, president and CEO of Avery Dennison, kicked off the event with his keynote address titled "Opportunities and challenges in the North American label markets." Drawing upon the phrase "What does not kill us makes us stronger," Scarborough discussed the two major challenges facing the US market: slow growth and inflation. He said he's still optimistic despite the rising costs of fuel, resin, PE resin, and paper products. "There are plenty of opportunities for us to grow our business." Scarborough said.
In particular, Scarborough stated that these areas for growth include RFID, the food and beverage market, eco-friendly products, and globalization.
"I remain highly confident in our industry not only to endure but to prosper," he said. "I look forward to walking around the halls and seeing the exciting products you all are bringing to the industry."
Steve Leibin of Matik North America demonstrates the Omet X-Flex press, which made its North American debut at Labelexpo.
RotoMetrics' new president, Michael Bryant, was busy introducing himself to people in the industry. Bryant was named several weeks ago to head the die and tooling manufacturer. Most recently, he was president and CEO of Precision Parts International, based in Michigan, USA. RotoMetrics also presents its new Multi-Score flexible dies. The folding carton dies use creasing technology to provide greater creasing and folding performance. The technology combines patented scoring technology with a flexible die that runs on a magnetic cylinder.
The Fasson Roll North America division of Avery Dennison focused on its decoration transfer program for the food, beverage, home and personal care markets. The program features new Fasson products that enable brand owners to transition from cut and stack glue applied labels to pressure sensitive technology. Jon Maley, VP of marketing, said the company's sustainability initiative include a host of new products, services, certifications, and educational programs. He said that Fasson is particularly proud of its commitment to maintaining working partnerships with its customers in creating custom designed applications using its Exact Width and Ready Width programs.
AB Graphic International re-launched its upgraded Sabre Extreme System. The system is designed for nonstop laser diecutting from the electronic file download to the finished product. Also exhibited was the Omega SR1300 slitter rewinder/camera inspection system. In addition, linked to Omega converting lines, the company showcased its Vectra turret rewinders, the ECTR 1300 with hot melt core and tail gluing, and the STR1300 with automatic take-off conveyer.
Mark Andy focused attention at Labelexpo to its new 2200 servo press, an upgrade to the widely popular model that the company has produced for years. In addition, it is showing a print station from the new Comco C1 ProGlide, a packaging press. The press manufacturer launched its MAX program last year, a service entity for the company's Mark Andy, Comco, and UVT brands. According to Mary Sullivan, director of global marketing, "MAX is the largest customer service and support group in the industry." Mark Andy had seven of its VSR rewinders located at various booths throughout Labelexpo. The slitter rewinders now feature controls from Rockwell Automation, which Sullivan said improve on operator interface.
Erhardt + Leimer
Nilpeter, which now is manufacturing its narrow web presses on four continents, introduced a new family of presses at Labelexpo. The FG Line – FG stands for Flexo Global – is a cross between the Danish-made FA Line and the US-made FB Line. The FG is strictly a sleeve press, said Jakob Landberg, Nilpeter's director of sales and marketing. It's fully servo driven, he added, and the anilox rolls have no gears. "It contains features from both the FA and the FB presses, and it can be manufactured either in the US or in Denmark," Landberg said. The press, which will be available in the first quarter of 2009, will have a 13" web during its first year of production.
Gallus featured its RCS 330 and TCS 250 presses, as well as its digital workflow systems. Felix Egger, VP of marketing, described the TCS 250 as the company's "answer to short run." He said the fully servo driven press does not require any tooling, and produces a minimal amount of waste, thus generating cost savings. "The RCS 330 represents the industry benchmark as the only fully servo driven press in the market with the highest throughput," Egger said. "Drive technology and open face architecture is the key."
Advanced Vision Technology (AVT), a leader in the vision inspection equipment market, presented a new version of its popular Printvision/Helios technology. Helios II has a renewed platform, new hardware and software and more features. AVT has also developed an inspection program for 2D bar codes, a challenging procedure because the system must read each code, verify it against the installed database, find any defective codes or duplicates, all at high rewind speeds. The company's new Braille inspection system will verify invisible raised codes atop existing visible print in order to meet pending EU requirements for Braille inclusion on specific products.
Aztech Converting Systems presented its DieMaster rotary diecutting system, which features an optional flexographic print station. The fully servo-powered post-print system also features automatic re-registration capability. According to André Beaudoin, national sales manager for Aztech, the company is working with Sun Chemical to supply the DieMaster as a companion to the SolarJet digital inkjet press. Beaudoin says that the DieMaster with two die stations and a flexo print station sells for under $100,000.
The EFI Jetrion 4000 UV inkjet press offered several new features to the narrow web marketplace this year, including variable data printing and a pre-diecut label printing function. The 4000 is now able to print 1D and 2D bar codes as well as variable text, numbers and graphics, enabling users to produce security products and other variable data applications. A new CMYK ink set is now available, which enables Jetrion users to print on lower-cost uncoated stock and a wide variety of synthetic materials.
Tailored Solutions previewed Version 5.3 of its Label Traxx print management software. Among the features of the new version are: a new web-to-print storefront, with features attractive to label printers using digital presses and those selling stock products; conversion of any Label Traxx report directly to PDF format; emailing directly from Label Traxx in PDF format; and selective currency assignments. "Version 5.3 is responsive to the latest developments in the industry," said President Ken Meinhardt. "The majority of new features in Label Traxx Version 5.3 were included in direct response to suggestions from our users."
A sibling to the popular Hewlett Packard Indigo ws4500 digital label press made its debut at Labelexpo. The WS6000 was introduced as a high-end super-industrial label press, with productivity that can be twice as high as the 4500. "The ws4500 continues to be the workhorse of our portfolio," said Alon Bar-Shany, VP and GM of HP's Indigo division. "The 6000 is the high-end industrial machine. It will be available in early 2009." The new press can print in four colors at 100 fpm, and twice that speed printing two colors. The repeat length of 39" is more than twice the 18" of the 4500. The ink containers are larger, Bar-Shany said, and the footprint is the same as the 4500. Several internal improvements have been made as well.
Schober USA unveiled its RFID-CP, which inserts UHF and HF inlays under diecut blank or pre-printed labels and validates the finished product. Control and monitoring is accomplished through the new pendant station that houses an industrial PC. Additional features include a new tag dispenser with web tension relief, strategically placed start/stop buttons, greater information gathering capabilities, and optional static discharge protection. The technology works with transponders in accordance with ISO specifications, in widths from 20 mm to 80 mm (with lengths of 20mm to 180mm).
PolymagTek's custom Wide Web Cleaner System can clean webs over 160" wide, of any composition, in thickness range of .001" to .060" and at web speeds up to 2,000 fpm. The adhesive tape contamination collection rolls can be programmed to transverse and clean the highest contamination areas (i.e., web edges) of the Polymag Blue Contact Cleaning Rolls more often than the center. The traversing tape can be placed into the step and clean (collection) or continuous cleaning mode. The tape rolls are mounted "shaft-less," using spring-loaded gudgeons for quicker and simpler tape roll changes. Tape rolls move outside of the machine frame for convent tape changes while the web is still being cleaned for non-stop operation.
Although GIDUE did not bring press equipment to Labelexpo Americas from its plant in Italy, company representatives met with attendees to provide details about the Universal Platform on the Xpannd hybrid press, which offers the possibility to interchange the RSI and the Flower flexo process head. Additionally, the company is touting its cost efficient hot stamping products. On display were the company's magnesium plates, which are much lighter than traditional engraved brass cylinders, as well as less costly.
Aquaflex introduced its ELS-D flexo technology at Labelexpo, a servo driven press that features plate sleeves, infinite repeat and job storage. The US press maker showed one module of the ELS-D line, mounted in the original ELS press, which utilizes plate cylinders. Aquaflex VP Mac Rosenbaum says the ELS press was designed for sale at a lower price point than other servo driven presses on the market. "An eight-color hot air sleeve press is now under $600,000. We are going to see a lot more of this in the industry." The press is available in widths of 10", 13" and 16".
Spartanics revealed its Finecut High Speed Laser Cutting Machine at Labelexpo, a laser diecutter that cuts rectangular labels at 90 meters per minute (354 fpm). Spartanics partner, Systec, announced the release of a cylinder configured flat screen printing system featuring electronic control technology. The Spartanics-Systec Fineprint Cylinder Screen Printing Lines are able to handle any preprinted material from any printing process, and feature automatic compensation for screen stretch or shrink. The press can handle substrates as thin as 12 microns. The rapid electronic controls replace manual adjustments and store up to 2,500 job parameters for setting up repeat jobs quickly.
Bunting Magnetics introduced a new cylinder for use in the embossing of holographic films, and is now in full production of flexible magnetic dies at its new facility in Newton, KS, USA. Mike Wilks, general manager of the flexible die division, said that the the HoLo magnetic embossing cylinder is designed to magnetically hold holographic films or plates and perform at temperatures in excess of 400º F. "It is particularly well suited for narrow and wide film applications from which a wide range of films are produced within the industry. During recent customer use, there was a 50 percent production increase with the HoLo and it allowed for quicker changes to take place."
Unilux featured its new Pocket Pixel, an LED inspection light with zero ozone emissions. The battery powered unit can be used as a handheld or can be permanently mounted. The Pocket Pixel uses its reflector design to focus 30 percent brighter light on narrow web label presses and other printing and converting equipment for inspection applications at full speeds where space is tight.
The LVS 7500 inline print quality inspection system from Label Vision Systems is designed for thermal and thermal transfer printers. The system allows for 100 percent inspection of labels with the ability to perform ISO verification inspection of bar codes and 2D matrix codes in any logical orientation and multiple codes. The system checks for number sequence integrity and for duplicates as the label is printing. The operator can know immediately the quality of the codes and data to reduce printing errors. Future enhancements include print defect detection such as missing, broken and filled-in text or graphics.
Digital inkjet has expanded greatly in the label market, and one of the recent entrants into the field is Delta Industrial Services, a manufacturer of custom converting machinery. The company's booth at Labelexpo featured its four-color inkjet unit mounted inline with a laser diecutter. The company has equipped its inkjet printer with Xaar print heads, and has partnered with LasX on the Edge laser cutter. Also on display was the Spectrum machine, featuring a flexo print head, a semi-rotary die station equipped with a magnetic cylinder for flexible dies, a slitter rewinder, and an island placement system that allows for application of a label to another web in the unit.
BST Pro Mark announced improvements in its HandyScan line of video inspection systems, and introduced the Super HandyScan 4000. The new unit features touch screen graphic interface combined with Virtual Repeat technology and color monitoring "at a price point never before available," said John Thome, vice president of marketing. Other new products include the Shark 4000 LeX and Shark 4000 100 percent inspection systems for presses and rewinders; an inline spectrodensitometer and densitometer for flexo, gravure and offset presses; Pro Sleeve web width measurement that monitors lay-flat size during production, and the AR4000 register control.
The Cyrel Digital Imager 2530, a popular device for digital imaging of flexo plates up to 25" x 30", has received a major modification from EskoArtwork, which partnered 10 years ago with DuPont to create the laser ablation device in the pursuit of digitally produced flexo plates. At Labelexpo, EskoArtwork displays the latest version, which eliminates the UV plate exposure step that falls between imaging and plate production via the DuPont FAST dry thermal plate processor. Now, the UV curing process takes place inside the imager itself, occurring immediately after the laser ablation of the image on the plate.
3M featured its 3M Performance Label Materials with Structured Adhesive and its 3M Blood Bag Tracking Label Materials. The new 3M label materials feature microchannels throughout the adhesive so air flows freely from between the label adhesive and substrate, eliminating bubbles caused by entrapment or outgassing. 3M's new secondary and DIN blood bag tracking label materials are extremely durable and moisture resistant, said Bill Mezzano, 3M market development manager. "These materials meet American Red Cross criteria and will perform under challenging environments into which they are placed," he said.
CTC International introduced its Model VTR "value" turret rewinder for nonstop winding of label and tag stock. The machine is designed to wind rolls up to 10" in diameter on core sizes ranging from 1" to 3" ID. The turret can provide core glue, tale glue and roll eject features using only two drives to operate three winding spindles. It operates directly inline with a press, providing single-pass nonstop finished roll label production. It can also be used for offline finishing. The turret is available in varying web widths and a wide range of options.
Sun Chemical unveiled several new flexo inks, including AquaPro and Platinum White. Water based AquaPro offers superior print densities, user friendly press stability, enhanced thermal resistance and easy cleanup. Platinum White enables rotary screen-like opacities to be achieved with a single flexo pass at flexo web speeds. Sun also highlighted its SolarJet four-color webfed digital inkjet press, aimed at the 10,000 and under label run market. The press has a print speed of 80 feet per minute.
Martin Automatic premiered the MLS Automatic Splicer, a compact lap splicer for nonstop unwinding at full press speed. Its compact design makes it ideal as a mid-press splicer mounted either in-line above printing units or at right angles. The MLS splicer is suitable for laminating and foiling applications. It features pull-out spindles and splice unit, inertia compensated tension control, and automatic splice initiation – the MLS monitors the diameter of the running roll and automatically makes a roll change at a pre-set diameter.
Graymills International focused attendees' attention to its line of Quick Change peristaltic ink pumps. The product is designed to allow users to change hose and pump heads in seconds, thus reducing downtime on press and generating savings. The pumps also allow for the tool-less removal of the motor for easy pump mobility and cleaning. The product was the winner of the 2007 FlexoTech International Best Innovation in Printing Press/Finishing Award.
Keene Technology showcased its range of butt splicer and turret rewinder systems. The ZG series of butt splicers features shaftless turret design for full width roll support. It has a fully automatic splice cycle with automatic microprocessor control. The ZC series is the cantilever version. In addition, the company promoted the MT series matrix turret rewinder designed to eliminate press stoppages for matrix waste removal. The MR series cantilever turret rewinder automatically transfers the web to a new core at full process line speed.
IIMAK introduced NetResin IQ, its newest thermal transfer ribbon for use in near edge printers and coders. This product, used primarily for date, lot and bar coding, is designed to deliver maximum durability and chemical resistance in the most extreme environments. With print speeds up to 12 ips, NetResin IQ is compatible with most near edge printers and coders such as TEC, Markem Smartdate, and VideoJet Dataflex.
Materials supplier FLEXcon introduced DPM Aply 1000 at Labelexpo Americas. A bubble free label film for durable goods applications such as brand identification labels and safety/hazard/instructional labels, the substrate is ideal for outdoor power applications. DPM Aply 1000 makes use of a rigid film and premium adhesive. Its design provides high surface smoothness, and is durable for up to five years outdoors. Flexcon also highlighted its DPM CVE, a UV resistant velvet embossed polyolefin film overlaminate for outdoor durable labels.
The Xeikon 3300, a new digital label press, was introduced by Xeikon at Labelexpo, the first appearance of the press in North America and a bold forward move for a company whose performance in the digital marketplace had been lackluster for several years. The toner-based five-color press has a new imaging head that prints at 1200 dpi. The 3300 has a web width of 13" and no repeat: A continuously variable image can be printed without frames or interruption. It will reach speeds up to 63 feet per minute using proprietary toners. Substrates require no advance preparation for printing.
Flint Group Narrow Web
Radius Solutions, a provider of business information management and enterprise resource planning systems for the packaging and printing industry, announced the formation of a technology partnership with QlikTech, a business intelligence vendor. QlikView data analysis capabilities will enhance the ability to leverage the transactional data in Radius Solutions' PECAS Vision system for business performance analysis and management. "QlikView connects data from multiple sources for powerful, intuitive and cost effective business analysis, dashboards and reports," said Peter McQuade, VP of International Markets and Global Alliances for QlikTech. David Taylor, president of Radius Solutions, said, "Companies can no longer wait until the end of the month for the data they need to monitor their progress against their key performance indicators. That's where QlikView comes in."
Nireco certainly had one of the most eye-opening exhibits. The car is a modified 1950 Mercury.
Dow Corning featured its Syl-Off Advantage Series silicone release coatings. The Syl-Off product line was initially launched in the 1970s and the Advantage Series was launched in 2004. "The Syl-Off Advantage Series significantly reduces costs," said Norm Kanar, global release segment leader. Kanar said that the product has great success throughout the world, with 30 percent of sales coming in the Asian region and approximately 30 percent in North America. Kanar said that some of the product's advantages include robust curing at very low speeds, high line speeds without misting, low cure temperature, better coverage, bath life, anchorage, and release stability.
Ashland Performance Materials has unveiled its Purelam Fastcure solventless laminating adhesives at Labelexpo. The adhesives are aliphatic polyurethane based and are FDA compliant for a variety of end-use products. "This environmentally friendly technology will allow converters to speed their process and reduce energy costs," said Dave Hatgas, director of sales for Ashland's specialty polymers and adhesives. "Purelam Fastcure laminating adhesives bring converters value by delivering a final cure at ambient temperature in only two days." The adhesives feature zero aromatic amines and meet the regulatory requirements for use in medical, hot-fill and cook-in-bag applications. Two formulations, 110/240 and 10/230, are currently available.
Kodak presented its new hybrid option for its Trendsetter NX Imager for the first time in North America. The option allows it to image either Flexcel NX digital flexo plates or traditional offset plates. The dual functionality allows label and packaging printers to compete in the offset printing arena without having to invest in a separate piece of imaging equipment, the company said. Kodak's Prinergy Powerpack system offers new features, including a PDF file editor, which allows users to employ the capabilities of Adobe Illustrator CS3 and Photoshop CS3 to modify PDF files.
Degrava Systems showed its four-color digital printer, a toner based machine with an Oki print engine. The unit can accommodate roll substrates at widths up to 8.5", and features an output speed of 10 feet per minute. "Our business is in the 0-10,000 label run," says VP Tim Sykes. Printable substrates include all papers, plus polyester and some vinyl, thermal transfer and synthetic substrates. The company offered a special Labelexpo price of $31,930, more than $20,000 below the list price.
Franklin Adhesives & Polymers, a division of Franklin International, showcased its ultra-removable Covinax 210. The product is designed for label converters seeking the high coating speed of water-based PSAs. It has the high transparency that's typically offered only in solvent-based formulas. The adhesive performs on most surfaces including paper, glass, metal and plastics. It's also FDA compliant for use with most food and drug packaging.
Appleton introduced Résiste Rx, a new pharmacy-grade direct thermal label facestock. It is designed to provide superior chemical resistance to household cleaners and hand sanitizers, soaps and lotions, water and humidity, and heat and light. Résiste Rx can be used with or without additional over-varnish for added protection, which does not affect imaging sensitivity. It was developed to give retail pharmacies, in-store, auto-fill, and mail order, a viable alternative as a growing number continue the transition from laser and thermal transfer printing to direct thermal printing.
Muller Martini had two static printing units on display from its Alprinta-V continuously size-variable web press. To showcase the hybrid printing capabilities of the machine, an offset and a flexo machine were both on display. The offset version features a quick-change cylinder and the flexo version has a quick-change sleeve. The rapid change technology offers users a reduction in labor costs, makeready times and start-up waste.
Accuweb featured its Accubeam3, an upgraded digital line guide that increases production efficiency and improves web guiding performance. Features of the Accubeam3 include an auto setup that automatically calibrates the optimum sensor parameters by pushing a button. Another feature is the product's LCD display that shows the line to be guided on within its field of view.
Henkel demonstrated a wide variety of adhesive products. Technomelt EM 799 and DUROTAK 34-659B are premium hotmelts for wine and beverage with a no-look label. Technomelt 86-7127 is a direct food contact adhesive developed especially for moist and greasy foods. Technomelt 707 is designed for squeezable labels on PE or PP containers such as shampoos and shower gels. It is also suitable for challenging industrial applications.
Rogers showcased its R/bak SA 3000 cushion mounting materials for flexo printing applications. The R/bak SA 3000 series includes three levels of compressibility, from process work to combination jobs as well as line and solid work. These cushion mounting materials offer improved operating performance through faster startups, higher line speeds, fewer press adjustments and less damage.
Hanita Coatings unveiled its new brand ID films. These films are watermarked with an anti-counterfeiting feature. They are produced using a proprietary process to imprint the coatings with a customized logo or message. The watermarked logo can be overt or discreet, on clear, white, matte, and metalized 50 micron polyester film, and is printable by conventional or thermal transfer methods. In addition to the new watermarked films, the company also presented a selection of PET film topcoated for printing by conventional or digitalized systems, including several dozen types of tamper-evident security facestocks.
Ricoh Electronics demonstrated its new direct thermal synthetic product, the 140LES. The product's enhanced resolution combined with its environmental and heat resistant properties, make it suitable for most any application, but specifically for hospital environments. The 140LES is also recommended for various applications such as food, industrial warehouse, the airline industry and healthcare.
MACtac, a supplier of pressure sensitive adhesive products, introduced a new hybrid adhesive system called Infusion, created from a proprietary blend of silicone and adhesive chemistry. According to MACtac, Infusion is the fastest converting adhesive system in the industry. It features aggressive adhesion and superior diecutting and matrix stripping, the company said, adding, "Infusion Hybrid Adhesive System diecuts and strips at faster speeds and wider webs through label presses – even on weaker face sheets that are often used in thermal transfer applications."
Lake Image Systems partnered with Domino Amjet to demonstrate the label data verification technology. The Lake Image Systems IntegraScan camera-based verification system ran live on a flexo press to continuously check bar code legibility and human readability at press speeds. IntegraScan is capable of operating at speeds as high as 90,000 labels per hour, with 100 percent data integrity inspection. Label printers can automatically identify integrity errors without inspection labor expense, while creating production reports to comply with service level agreement contracts.
Avery Dennison has teamed up with EskoArtwork and ExxonMobil Chemical to ensure color guaranteed printing for digital label converters. Last year at Labelexpo Europe, EskoArtwork and ExxonMobil Chemical introduced PacVantage software and technology for digitally printed labels. In this market segment, where the predominant printing technology is provided by HP Indigo, the companies offered a color guarantee providing converters that print with PacVantage technology on ExxonMobil Chemical's Digilyte polyolefin films the assurance that they will be able to make color adjustments during the proofing stage and match them on press with little or no adjustment. Now Avery Dennison has joined.
Die manufacturer Gerhardt announced at Labelexpo the formation of a partnership with Australia's leading supplier of machinery and consumables to the narrow web market, Jet Technologies. "From Gerhardt's perspective, an alliance with Jet provides us with an extensive sales network supported by the wide ranging knowledge base, says Klaus Damberg, group CEO of Gerhardt. "This will ensure that our level of service to the Australian, New Zealand and South East Asian market is second to none."
Videojet Technologies announced at Labelexpo that three companies – Label Vision Systems, Mark Andy and Roberts PolyPro – are offering the company's IMprints For Converters, a coding and verification system. The partnership is in response to the pharmaceutical industry's need for compliance with the California ePedigree regulations by 2015. Videojet Technologies provides serialization software and a range of digital printing machines.