In this article, we focus on wine & spirits labels, which are often printed on challenging materials (natural papers) and include high-end embellishments. Technically, these labels are among the most challenging for any label converter.
A technology agnostic approach
At Xeikon, we did an in-depth analysis of different digital label printing technologies (dry toner and liquid toner electrophotography, UV-curable inkjet and water-based inkjet), taking into account quality basics (dot positioning and dot sizes), substrate compatibility and process reliability, as well as characteristics such as look and feel, durability and sustainability. The results are published in a white paper, which is free for download from the Xeikon website.
Specifically for wine & spirit labels, it is important to realize these require a digital printing technology that is capable of delivering high-quality labels on a wide range of challenging substrates that absorb liquid inks. Therefore, Xeikon recommends its dry toner printing processes over water-based, UV inkjet or even liquid toner. Why? Because dry toner excels in three key areas which are important for wine & spirit label converters.
1. Wine & spirits substrates
A broad range of substrates is used in wine & spirits, from synthetic, coated paper to the most challenging natural, structured papers. The last one, a very porous material, can only be printed on properly with dry toner, as it doesn’t require any pre-conditioning or primer prior to printing. Any liquid ink is absorbed by the facestock and, as a result, degrades in color strength. Incidentally, applying a primer is always difficult as the layer gets partly absorbed by the paper. Dry toner, on the other hand, sits on top of the paper, is not absorbed and keeps its color strength.
2. Embellishment modules
Spot varnish and foiling are common processes for wine & spirits labels and make them really stand out. Due to the absence of solvents, fuser oils or other liquids, dry toner is compatible with any kind of process (spot varnish, cold foil, hotfoil). Moreover, embellishments can be handled digitally too, using Xeikon’s Fusion technology, a unique solution of digital combination printing. It combines full color digital production printing with digital embellishment of labels and packaging in a single, one-pass and fully digital production process.
A print job is dropped in a hotfolder, RIP’ed and the different channels are sent to the relevant Fusion modules, including the press, without further manual intervention. Because every embellishment module is digital, every single design element in the design can be made variable or personalized, which opens up huge opportunities for new applications.
3. High image quality
Wine & spirits frequently boast fine details, making image quality crucial. The dry toner printing process has a print resolution of 1200 dpi where several particles create one image dot and where the toner is transferred to the exact position over and over, very consistently. The result is impeccable. With water-based or UV inkjet, one drop creates the actual image – any variation to the position and size has immediate effect on the quality. Consequently, when high-quality labels are required, UV inkjet is less suitable.
Filip Weymans is VP Global Marketing for Xeikon. For more info, visit www.Flintgrp.com/Labelexpo.