“With the increasing demand for labels, we’re accelerating our leading role in this very important market,” says Chris Travis, KBA North America director of technology. “We’ve always serviced this market but it has taken on a more important component of our growth strategy. We’re known for our customized printing presses, which are built to very specific standards for each of our customers. Here in North America, we have a variety of very high-profile label printers that are very pleased with their efficient and high-quality presses. For printers who mass produce labels, we will design and configure an offset press that will more effectively address your current needs as well as what you will be doing in the future.”
It is that desire to not only respond to a label maker’s current print operation but its future needs that has prompted Koenig & Bauer’s research and development teams to produce critical press features for this growing market. Label printers require specific features that help productivity, oversee quality and color control, and promote efficiency and less waste.
As the number of consumer goods continues to grow on store shelves, labels are a premium selling point. Label designers are adding more dramatic color and images as well as high-end foil and PMS colors to draw a consumer’s eye to the product. At its recent open house, Koenig & Bauer demonstrated a variety of special effects using a double coater press with cold foil application. With more colors on a label, printers need to have quality and color control systems to reduce variability.
The Rapida 106 from Koenig & Bauer is equipped with a sophisticated camera system that enables the operator to stay abreast of its label production. The Koenig & Bauer QualiTronic on-press measuring and control system uses inline measurements to evaluate every single sheet of labels and to quickly detect possible defects. This is especially important for label printers in the pharmaceutical industry that need to carefully compare drug ingredients printed on the label against a PDF. Koenig & Bauer also offers additional systems to help the operator monitor label print quality such as ErgoTronic ColorControl for the measurement of ink densities and L*a*b* values, and a variety of register systems both inline and online.
Not only is quality and color control necessary, but also productivity and efficiency, Travis says, noting that Koenig & Bauer has developed systems for label printers to alleviate these areas as well. "Due to the greater amount of colors being used on label printing, printers require roller wash-up systems to quickly wash those colors up and move on to the next job. Koenig & Bauer offers its DriveTronic SRW (Simultaneous Roller Wash) to provide increased productivity as well as high color quality and consistency for label production. Having the ability to wash the rollers up while the job is running is a key contributor to reducing makeready times. It also allows label printers to wash the rollers thoroughly for correct color matches upon starting up," says Travis.
Koenig & Bauer has also fashioned substrate specific packages depending on the types of labels being produced. For example, it offers a lightweight paper package for those producing cut & stack labels and an in-mold label package.
For the LED-UV drying market, Koenig & Bauer is pleased to see how its label print customers utilize this drying system to benefit their workflow. "The development of LED-UV has been a boon to the label industry. Label printers usually use thin substrates to produce their product, which is prone to be distorted when subjected to heat in the drying process. With LED-UV, there is no heat. This allows label printers to have better control over the production process, improved registration, and higher quality.
“Almost all of our label print customers specify their presses with LED-UV,” says Travis. “It is a key technical piece of equipment.”
Roll-to-sheet feeders are an important component for any fast-paced label printing environment. This equipment provides much better speed and efficiency for a label printer, allows the printer to buy the roll directly from the mill at a much lower price, and finds that a roll runs much more consistently and smoothly during print production. Travis add, “The typical press size preferred by label printers is our Rapida 106 41-inch press,” says Travis. “"Our press is the only one on the market that offers an extra sheet size for medium format presses, thus giving the label printer additional capacity and efficiency in each label print run."
Another important product that Koenig & Bauer offers to label printers is its rotary die-cutter Rapida RDC 106. Considered a “game-changer for the die-cutting process,” the Rapida RDC 106 features die-cutting and hole punching for in-mould and other label applications via embossing, creasing, cutting, and stripping. The machine offers cutting outputs of up to 15,000 sheets per hour and productivity is increased by up to 300% for label applications. Koenig & Bauer has held demonstrations of its Rapida RDC 106 running self-adhesive label production at the world record speed of 17,000 sheets per hour.
“We’re very optimistic about our leadership role in the fast-growing label market,” says Travis. “Our specially-built customized presses and unique features are designed to suit the specific requirements of label printers. We’re partnering with some of the best-known label printers in the world and helping them to be more productive, cost efficient, and flexible through our strong sales, training, and service departments.”
KBA North America is located in Dallas, TX, USA, and a member of the Koenig & Bauer Group, which was established 200 years ago in Würzburg, Germany. Koenig & Bauer’s claim, “We’re on it.” gets to the heart of Koenig & Bauer’s values and competencies for all target groups. The group's includes sheetfed offset presses in all format classes, post press diecutters, inkjet presses and systems, flexographic presses, commercial and newspaper web presses, corrugated presses, special presses for banknotes, securities, metal-decorating, smart cards, glass and plastic decorating.