In its report, “A Bright Future for Color Inkjet Digital Printing in Global Labels and Packaging Markets,” industry research firm Vandagraf projects that color inkjet digital printing across the label and packaging industries—which are all seeing double-digit growth—will accelerate through 2023.
The report notes that growth in digital color printing comes as demand for mass versioning and customization of labels outpaces the traditional production of large volumes of labels. Converters can expect increases in their short-run prototyping, versioning, and need resources such as substrate materials, digital inks, and digital printing technology that can produce these and similar short runs on a regular and increasing basis.
“Digital color printing technology has become a vital resource for brand owners and packaging buyers who seek to compete in a market that values customization and the fastest response times,” says Gianluigi Rankin, director of product marketing at Memjet. “Not only does digital printing effectively produce short-run customized labels, but it also expedites delivery and decreases the waste associated with inventoried printed labels that have become obsolete.
“To capitalize on this key labeling trend—and tap into this growing market—original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are researching how to either make the move to inkjet or to expand the number or capabilities of their current line of inkjet printers.”
To give OEMs the tools to successfully expand their product lines, Memjet developed DuraFlex. This modular, single-pass print solution combines Memjet’s signature features of speed, simplicity, and affordability with new attributes such as enhanced durability, A4 and A3 widths in a four-color printhead, a high-speed data path, and modules that control all printhead functions.
Together, those features give OEMs the resources to create affordable mini-press, benchtop, and entry-level presses with quality and speed previously unavailable in those types of solutions.
“DuraFlex is a powerful yet economical printing technology,” says Rankin. “The technology includes a modular four-color, pigment-based printhead system designed to cover the requirements of a range of industrial print applications including benchtop and entry-level roll-to-roll label and flexible packaging presses as well as other sheet-fed light production and wide-format packaging applications.
“By providing technology modules, training and integration support and simplifying the development process for our OEMs and offering outstanding image quality, DuraFlex solves OEMs’ most pressing challenge: getting affordable printing solutions to market faster without sacrificing the quality and speed users demand in these rapidly evolving print markets," Rankin adds.
Because DuraFlex is an economical printing technology, it provides OEMs with a low-risk way to move to inkjet or expand their existing product lines by adding new solutions.
The cost benefits of DuraFlex extend to the end user. DuraFlex-powered printing solutions are less expensive to buy and operate than other solutions. DuraFlex’s long printhead life minimizes intervention rates, resulting in higher productivity and profitability for print providers.
With 1600 x 1600 dpi and built-in nozzle redundancy, DuraFlex produces print quality at print speeds up to 46 m/m. Although the features of DuraFlex make it a compelling technology for many markets, specific aspects make DuraFlex particularly attractive for the labeling market.
About the author: Kim Beswick is the general manager of Memjet office and desktop systems.
This combination of high quality and affordability means OEM partners can use DuraFlex for applications in the labeling market that can economically print labels in volumes of 100, 1,000, or 10,000. DuraFlex prints at the fastest speed of any Memjet technology: 18 IPS. In productivity mode, DuraFlex reaches 30 IPS, a speed found in more expensive presses.
The two sizes of printheads mean that OEMs can build a family of presses that serve different markets or end user requirements. For example, an OEM may use DuraFlex to build a roll-to-roll press for labels and then build on that development to create a roll-to-roll flexible packaging printer.
DuraFlex aqueous pigment inks produce a high level of quality on a range of inkjet-coated and uncoated media while also being resistant to damage from light, moisture, and rubbing. The durability means that DuraFlex can be used for a wide variety of label printing applications that include labeling for products that are refrigerated, used outside, or even for BS5609 marine label applications (when used with appropriate media).
Each component in DuraFlex ink has been reviewed for its impact on food safety and is listed or approved for listing on the Swiss Ordinance List.
DuraFlex inks provide competitive gamut and image quality on a range of uncoated papers as well as on inkjet-treated and inkjet-coated media. The inks also can be used on porous and coated glossy and matte labelstocks.
Finally, solutions built with DuraFlex are easy to operate in any environment because they require no fusing, drying, or curing like other types of printers do. Moreover, with formulations that are composed of over 70% water and free of reactive chemistries, Memjet DuraFlex inks are safer to use and friendlier to the environment than UV, solvent or liquid toner inks.
“DuraFlex was designed to give OEM partners the flexibility and simple product integration needed to keep pace with the trends that are driving the labeling market,” explains Rankin. “These OEMs can use DuraFlex to power a range of printers that produce high-quality, customized labels at an affordable cost of ownership.
“DuraFlex holds the promise of new business opportunities for OEMs and the brands, small businesses, and commercial print customers they serve,” concludes Rankin.