Drupa is a mega-show, to say the least. It last took place in 2012, as it has been held every four years. After this year’s event, however, in light of how fast printing technology is changing, drupa is moving to a three-year cycle. In 2012, roughly 315,000 print industry professionals from 130 countries attended drupa. In underscoring its importance, Messe Dusseldorf, the show’s organizer, said that 79% of the 2012 visitors were those who play a decisive role in investment decisions, with more than a third of the attendees having immediate investment intentions.
While there are sectors of the printing industry struggling, such as newspapers, books and magazines, the labels and packaging space is thriving. Thus, there are several suppliers targeting the label industry that are enthusiastic about exhibiting at drupa 2016. What follows is a preview of some of new product launches, innovations and technologies that these companies will have on display throughout the 19 halls of the Messe.
Enhanced EP and inkjet Technology
HP will exhibit the industry’s broadest portfolio of digital printing solutions at drupa, including advancements that speak to the company’s theme of “Reinvent Your Possibilities.” For example, HP PrintOS, a cloud-based operating system, will make its global debut, and will “reinvent how customers manage print production,” the company says. Featuring a suite of intuitive web-based and mobile applications, PrintOS helps simplify and automate print production, enabling customers to start printing jobs, faster. Additionally, cloud connectivity allows customers to monitor print status remotely, as well as track and improve production performance over time.
For the first time in drupa history, the HP Graphics Solutions Business is hosting the tradeshow’s largest exhibit in Hall 17 and the world’s biggest digital printing showcase for the 11-day event. “HP is bringing the full power of our vast portfolio of digital printing solutions to drupa 2016, featuring breakthrough innovations,” says Rob Le Bras-Brown, global head of print marketing, HP Inc. “With the introduction of HP PrintOS and more ground-breaking announcements to come, HP is following through on our promise to ‘keep reinventing’ with advancements across application segments that truly enable our customers to reinvent their possibilities.”
Specific to label printing, HP is launching at drupa the HP Indigo 8000 – a 262 fpm digital label press. The print speed comes from two print engines that share an infeed and outfeed. It doubles the speed of the company’s popular WS6000 digital press series, of which there are now more than 1,000 installations worldwide.
The 8000, designed to handle long runs, represents a digital alternative to flexography, the process the PS label printing industry has excelled with for decades. In discussing the new press at a pre-drupa event in Israel, Alon Bar Shany, HP’s general manager, Indigo Division, said, “It hasn’t been easy evangelizing digital – many converters are comfortable where they are, they like things predictable. And it’s a huge investment – we understand that. But those that do ‘get it’ don’t look back,” he said, adding, “Packaging is a much bigger part of our future now. The opportunities are massive in this market that is still relatively untouched by digital.”
Xeikon, the label industry’s clear #2 supplier of EP technology-based digital label presses, also has big plans for drupa, which is the first major show for Xeikon since being acquired by Flint Group. “Drupa provides the perfect time and place to show off all our capabilities,” says Patrick Van Baelen, vice president of marketing at Xeikon. “For the first time in our history, we will have the biggest square-meter space available at drupa. In total, we’re looking at 1,700 square meters, which is the biggest space that Xeikon or Flint Group has ever had.”
Xeikon will be demonstrating the CX3 (aka Cheetah), which has seen more than 20 installations since its launch in September 2015. The five-color digital label press runs at 98 fpm (30 m/m) and offers multiple applications with inline finishing. Speaking of finishing, Xeikon will also showcase Fusion Technology, which combines full-color production printing with digital embellishment of labels and packaging in a single-pass, fully digital process. It has the potential to offer digital alternatives to hot and cold foiling, screen-printed white, tactile varnishes and spot prints.
Filip Weymans, director of segment marketing and business development, Labels & Packaging, says Fusion provides an answer for digital embellishment. “Cheetah Technology (CX3) is really addressing the market for common labels,” explains Weymans. “It doesn’t give you the ability to do spot varnish or tactile varnish unless you go to a conventional technology. With Fusion, it will create more value for the Cheetah.”
Substrates to be printed with Fusion Technology do not require a primer or preconditioning. For example, if a printer runs a substrate through screen white, a primer would still be required. Weymans believes Xeikon has simplified the entire process. “Because of the chemical compatibility of our dry toner with other technologies, not only do we have the vision, we feel that we have the right technology to do these things,” he says. Fusion is expected to be commercially available in 2017.
Gallus will showcase its digital hybrid press, the Labelfire 340, which combines the latest digital printing technology with the benefits of conventional printing. Jointly developed by Gallus and Heidelberg, it can varnish, embellish and further process labels inline – from the roll to the finished diecut label in a single pass. The Labelfire 340 features native (physical) resolution of 1,200 × 1,200 dpi with a droplet size of just 2 pl and up to 200 grey scale values, corresponding to a visual resolution of 2,400 × 2,400 dpi. The high physical resolution of the inkjet heads offers a real advantage, particularly when it comes to small symbols and characters, as well as fine lines and gradients down to zero percent. The unique shaped inkjet printhead enables seamless inkjet head stitching, resulting in a smooth print across the entire web. The combination of digital white, CMYK, the color space enlargement colors orange, violet and green, as well as 7-color separation mean the Gallus Labelfire press system can cover a large portion of the Pantone color space.
EFI will emphasize its “The Imaging of Things” concept, demonstrating how it’s possible to print on almost everything – paper, ceramic tiles, furniture, decorations and textiles to create profitable print opportunities. EFI will also show the advantages of its end-to-end workflow; with solutions for management and production workflows that make processes cost-efficient, integrated and automated.
The theme for drupa 2016 is “Touch the future,” and building on drupa’s vision, Flint Group will demonstrate its “One team, One Future, One Flint Group” concept. The company will highlight a vast range of inks, coatings, pressroom chemicals, flexographic plates and equipment, mounting sleeves, printing blankets and print services and solutions. And now, with the acquisition of Xeikon and the establishment of the Digital Printing Solutions Division, Flint Group’s presence at drupa will be more visible than ever before.
Flint Group will have three distinct spaces at the exhibition: A small Flint Group information booth, situated in the heart of the ink and print consumables suppliers’ area, will catch passing visitors looking for alternative print consumable partners, as well as a meeting hub for existing customers and dealers. A Flint Group prepress stand will be shared between the Flint Group Flexographic Products Division and flexo prepress specialist Thermoflex, who joined the company with Xeikon. Meanwhile, at the company’s main stand, joint branding of Flint Group and Xeikon will highlight the pairing of the two suppliers.
Siegwerk will be returning to drupa and emphasizing its slogan, “We color the future,” while launching its new efforts in the inkjet ink field. “We are looking forward to inspiring discussions about new challenges in the market and the expansion of our collaborations,” says Hugo Noordhoek Hegt, president of Packaging EMEA at Siegwerk. The company will be showcasing its new digital ink offerings, as it recently announced a new, dedicated inkjet laboratory at its Technical Center in Annemasse, France, which will initially concentrate its efforts on the label market. With an eye on the growth of UV LED curing and the increasing interest in low migration inks for food packaging, Siegwerk has been developing UV LED ink technology. During drupa, Siegwerk will highlight Sicura Nutriflex LEDTec, a low migration LED UV flexo ink for food and pharma packages.
INX International Ink Co. will show inks and other products for digital, packaging, commercial and industrial printing. “We are excited to be back at drupa and look forward to introducing our new technology,” says Rick Clendenning, president and CEO of INX International. The company will have an emphasis on packaging, with lamination inks for flexible packaging, water-based inks with high color strength for corrugated and inkjet inks. INX will show new UV/EB ink technology for commercial printing, with INX UV LED and HUV/LE inks a particular focus. INX Digital will highlight its portfolio of inks, including aqueous-based, UV curable, solvent-based, hybrids, coatings and primers.
Esko is bringing to drupa a wide range of innovations as its stand will consist of six Inspiration Zones that will take visitors through each step of a typical packaging production workflow. Each zone features Esko solutions and key innovations. For example, the Brands, Specification & Briefing Zone will focus on the holistic packaging production process from idea to shelf, connecting stakeholders such as brands, designers, premedia and converters; and integrating with business systems such as MIS, ERP, PIM, MRM and content management. The Design Zone will focus on creating designs that meet even the strictest brand owner’s specifications, quickly and accurately. The Flexo Platemaking Zone will show how customers can take control of flexo plate production and achieve faster plate production turnaround times while delivering more consistent plates. Printing and Ink Management Zone will highlight methods of dealing with the increased complexity of mixed printing environments (digital, flexo, gravure, offset), as well as achieving color consistency across an ever-growing number of substrates and production locations.
DuPont Advanced Printing is highlighting DuPont Cyrel EASY flexographic printing plate technology and its newest equipment offering at the DuPont booth. Cyrel EASY simplifies the prepress process by building the flat top digital dot directly into the plate, resulting in increased productivity and consistency. DuPont booth visitors will be able to view the complete Cyrel EASY plate portfolio, which is available for thermal and solvent-free processes with an engineered surface or smooth surface.
“With Cyrel EASY flexographic printing plates, customers no longer need to trade productivity for quality,” says Andy Kannurpatti, global marketing manager, flexography. “Our customers, whether they use solvent or thermal, are now delivering on the high expectations of quality without lamination or special UV exposure during platemaking because of Cyrel EASY. Cyrel EASY is a brand new platform that uses breakthrough technology that benefits platemaking as well as printing operations.”
Fujifilm will be showcasing its new advanced water-washable flexo plate, Flenex FW, in the Package Printing Zone and will be demonstrating how label and flexible packaging converters can benefit from this high quality and low cost-in-use flexo plate. Thanks to advanced photopolymer technologies, Flenex FW guarantees reduced dot gain and better ink transfer for cleaner and brighter print results, and it can reduce platemaking times to less than 40 minutes. The zone will also feature a new, next generation LED UV inkjet press suitable for flexible packaging applications. This new press is powered by proprietary new Fujifilm image forming technology called “EUCON” (Enhanced Under Coating and Nitrogen purging technology).
Flexo, Finishing and more
Omet is demonstrating the iFLEX flexo press at drupa. Officially launched in May 2015, iFLEX is characterized by its simple operation and extremely quick start-up times. According to Omet, what makes the machine unique, in particular, is the iLight laser pre-register system and the iVision printing register adjustment features. “Optimal quality printing can be achieved in a few simple steps, accelerating machine setup after each job changeover and considerably reducing waste on each start-up,” says Massimo Bellingardi, Omet’s marketing director.
The iFlex is proposed as the ideal solution for medium/large label printing companies producing large quantities of labels with just-in-time deliveries, that want to drastically reduce waste. “At the same time, iFLEX can represent for smaller label printing companies and those with less investment potential, a fundamental technological resource to print the most wide-ranging works in all runs lengths with high ROI,” Bellingardi says.
For the first time, Landa will demonstrate its new Landa Nano-Metallography technology mounted on an Omet XFlex X6 press. The technology offers zero-waste metallization, reducing costs by more than half compared to foil. Landa’s quicker and simpler process will streamline the production of metalized print and improve customer profitability. Landa Nano-Metallography is operable with the full spectrum of conventional printing technologies, including narrow web flexo, offset and screen for the production of labels, “Current metallization processes are prohibitively expensive due to the high cost of foil and tremendous waste,” says Benny Landa, chairman of the Landa Group. “Our Nano-Metallography technology will enable metallization at less than half the cost of foil, with zero-waste – and it’s microwave compatible. We expect this technology to be available to customers in 2017.”
For the label market, Cartes is launching the GE360 Series, a converting line engineered with customer needs in mind, the company says. The GE360 includes a wide range of customized solutions, starting from an entry-level configuration up to the most complete fully equipped converting line. As per their needs, converters can combine a flexo unit in full-rotary/semi-rotary version, and a semi-rotary diecutting unit.
AVT will premiere its new iCenter Platform, a next-generation cloud-based solution for quality control automation and production performance insights. With the iCenter platform, printers can now offer brand owners around the globe consistent product quality, as well as production reports showcasing these heightened quality standards. The iCenter platform provides solutions to set cross-site quality standards, auto-analyze PDF files for inspection and extract business intelligence from the production floor with a seamless connectivity to MIS and prepress solutions for optimized automated workflows. The platform’s cloud-based nature empowers printers to manage and control quality and production standards for facilities around the world, ensuring cross-site consistency for both quality and color.
Leonhard Kurz will be presenting the Distorun module for processing single images and continuous designs on narrow web cold foil transfer systems. Previously, it has only been possible to transfer metallic colors and holographic continuous designs using cold foil technology. With the Distorun module installed on a press, it is now also possible to precisely position holographic single images. Only a minor modification to the printing machine is required: the Distorun is simply mounted on it with an adapter plate. The module synchronizes itself with the machine but operates independently of its control system. The Distorun comes with a print mark reader that registers the position of the print marks. It also possesses a rotary encoder that detects the speed of the substrate being printed on. Using this data, the Distorun determines the exact location on the substrate to apply the cold foil and controls the foil feed accordingly. Up to three foil webs can be used in parallel, and foil widths of 330, 420 and 520 millimeters can be processed.
Apex International is launching its fixed palette concept (4C and 7C), which includes its patented GTT anilox rolls that have been designed to create the most consistent and controlled laydown in the industry, especially important for optimized Fixed Palette. With Fixed Palette, flexo printers can streamline press operations, reduce anilox inventory and variation, and reliably deliver consistent quality from the shortest to the longest of press runs. The Apex stand will also serve as a Knowledge Center for printers that come across issues like “Opaque White,” “Ghosting,” and “Spitting.” The company says that 40% of all printers have problems like printing an opaque white and use more ink or a second print unit to solve this specific problem. Apex says it provides efficient anilox solutions that are not necessarily more expensive and at the same time realize a higher quality print result (and thus more revenue).
AB Graphic International is showcasing its newly launched FAST Track die – the new module for the Digicon Series 3 – reportedly the world’s fastest semi rotary diecutting system, representing what the company says is a quantum leap in semi-rotary diecutting technology. “We are very proud of this world first,” says Tony Bell, sales director for AB Graphic International Ltd.
The FAST Track die can run at speeds of up 150 m/m in semi-rotary mode, with a repeat range of 250-508mm. “With digital presses running faster, and a trend towards inline finishing, there is a definite demand for higher speed diecutting,” says Bell.
Martin Automatic will feature its innovation in web handling and web transport, as the company has developed Airnertia, a patented roller technology that uses a near frictionless air bearing system to minimize roller inertia. Martin’s MDR, or Magnetic Driven Roller technology, is used in web transport rollers to reduce or eliminate the effects of roller mass, bearing friction, speed changes and entrained (boundary layer) air. These technologies can enable higher process speed, lower web tension and reduced equipment size. Hands-on demonstrations of these systems highlight Martin’s breadth of applied engineering expertise across many web-fed industries.
Also on display at the Martin booth will be the TMSL automatic splicer. This free-standing system includes two roll unwind positions, splice unit and festoon (accumulator) for continuous feed of narrow web materials such as film, nonwoven and foam. Exemplifying the flexibility of Martin’s platform approach to roll changing, the TMSL can unwind level-wound (spooled) or pancake rolls and make overlap or butt splices in taped or tapeless designs.
Vetaphone will be exhibiting a range of improved and enhanced surface treatment technology, including the new iCorona2 and iCorona3. Additional equipment on display will include samples of the latest Corona Treater stations VE1C-C and the VE1E-B, which is fitted with a ceramic roller covering and the new segmented electrodes for improved cleaning and maintenance, as well as better airflow that prevents dirt from adhering. To illustrate the importance and value of correct surface treatment, Vetaphone will be holding a daily series of technical presentations at its stand.
Flexo Wash will focus on minimizing downtime and improving print quality on flexo and gravure presses with a range of equipment cleaning solutions that maintain anilox rolls and cylinders, and also save money in the process. The fully automatic Multi Cylinder Cleaner that can clean 10-12 gravure cylinders per hour will be exhibited in its full size. Cylinders are simply loaded on the carriage, and the machine does the rest. New for drupa is the Flexo Wash Cylinder Washer that cleans with the use of solvents. Flexo Wash will also exhibit its Anilox Roll Cleaner. The machine runs with environmentally-friendly liquids that are also re-used to reduce consumption.
Bobst will use drupa 2016 to showcase technology that will drive customer productivity higher, open up new capabilities and protect customers’ global investments. Jean-Pascal Bobst, CEO of Bobst, says, “Drupa will see us clearly demonstrate that we are going forward with the same dynamism and commitment that first won us our reputation in the industry.”
Bobst will have on display a brand new version of the M6 UV flexo press, configured with folding carton production in mind, which will challenge offset printed carton production by offering job changeovers in under a minute – thanks to Digital Flexo technology, high running speeds and high-speed inline sheeting.
Mühlbauer will present its new Light series of RFID production machinery at drupa, CL light and PL light. The CL light is characterized by a successful combination of cost-efficient design together with a high flexibility in output configurations: dry inlay, wet inlay, and smart Labels from reel to reel. All processes are in one modular system: antenna web handling, label lamination and diecutting, as well as output testing. The system has a throughput of up to 10 m/m for semi-rotative cutting, respectively 30 m/m for rotative cutting. With an optimized changeover time between different products paired with lowest tooling costs, this converting system is perfectly suited for production of smaller lot sizes and at the same time fast-changing applications. The friendly user interface, the intuitive handling of this converting machine and the low initial investment makes the CL light especially interesting for start-ups entering the RFID converting market, the company says.
Prati will showcase the Saturn OMNIA, a high-performance, modular finishing platform able to handle pressure sensitive labels, flexible packaging, A4 sheets, wet glue labels and IML. Prati says Saturn OMNIA is ideal for customized production runs and multiple label types, making it a wises investment that offers unlimited flexibility – so if the market requires a change in production from one day to the next, you are already equipped to respond accordingly. During drupa, Prati is inviting showgoers to its factory and headquarters in Faenza, Italy. Open Days will run for a 4-week period, starting May 23 and finishing June 17.
ETI Converting will display the Mini-Cohesio to demonstrate the efficiency of its multifunctional inline coating and printing equipment. One of the features of the Mini-Cohesio is its length: 7.3 meters instead of 15 meters for a standard Cohesio. Printers with space constraints will enjoy this more compact model. The press has a maximum web width of 330 mm (13") and it prints on a large variety of papers and filmic substrates. The Mini-Cohesio will be equipped with the Pellicut, the ETI diecutting system that can diecut on a liner as thin as 18 microns.
The Mini-Cohesio can produce materials at 500 fpm (150 m/m) using different adhesive technologies: standard hotmelt, UV curable hotmelt acrylic and water-based emulsion adhesives.
Valloy is showcasing its new TOPAZET UV 13R, a technology borne from a recent development project aided by the Korean government. The printer is a compact UV inkjet narrow web roll-to-roll printer, positioned in the middle of economic low-end small UV printers. Valloy describes the unit as being renovated from Epson printers and high-end single-pass production class label presses.
To fulfill the needs in the middle-end market, Valloy has been providing the ANYTRON label printer based on the OKI LED toner engine. However, the printer has a limitation in media compatibility due to the high fusing temperature inside. Thus, Valloy says, more and more customers are asking for a UV inkjet machine with a similar production rate (about 5 m/m) at a similar price range.
Ricoh has released the GH2220 printhead after more than 10 years of R&D and chose Valloy as its partner to develop the UV inkjet narrow web press. “In comparison with Epson DX5, Ricoh’s new printhead, with its twice smaller droplet of 2.5 pl and 1.5 times faster operation frequency of 30 kHz, finally enables the development of affordable industrial UV inkjet printers. It supports variable dot printing in higher resolution, with no artefacts but with better rendering of half-tints. Working life is up to five years,” says S.J. Lee, CTO of Valloy.
TOPAZ UV 13R supports white and varnish inks for special effects. It is not only for label printing but also for flexible package printing. With the help of the first economic printheads from Ricoh in an industrial level, this new 3-6 m/m printer is targeting a USD $59,000 price point. TOPAZ UV 13R is using 350mm width rolls and curing the ink by LED UV lamps. It supports reversible and repeatable layer printing, so converters can flexibly print white and varnish ink first or last selectively and they can print varnish color repeatedly to have thicker depth for a semi-3D effect.
Juan Kim, CEO of Valloy, comments, “Nobody could imagine this kind of affordable price level for an industrial digital UV inkjet narrow web press. We could make it come true by decreasing the cost by at least five times as a result of unyielding challenges based on plentiful field experience. Most of the players in the market will be the beneficiaries of this innovation, and it will accelerate the spread of digitalization in the narrow web industry.”