Dozens of digital printing units of varying sizes, speeds and price points are now available. The space has never been more competitive. The last two Labelexpos had more than 60 digital press and printer exhibitors. Manufacturers new to the label industry are emerging regularly, and longtime flexo specialists are now launching digital products. The modern label converter has a lot to choose from, and there is seemingly something for every pressroom size and company budget.
What follows are descriptions and images of various digital printing technologies. Some of these vendors are well established in the market, while others are relatively new. This is the most comprehensive account of what’s available that L&NW has put together to date. The equipment listed below is limited to machinery that solely relies on a digital engine for printing. New hybrid machinery has emerged that combines both analog and digital processes. To learn about hybrid presses, turn to page 70 of this issue.
Descriptions of the digital printing options available appear in alphabetical order, by the name of the vendor.
The L801 Color Label Printer from Afinia Label is label printer that uses Memjet technology, allowing users to print high-impact, full-color output at up to 60 fpm. Memjet’s stationary “waterfall” printhead technology allows paper to move quickly through the printer, while maintaining excellent print resolution, according to Afinia. It prints up to 1600 x 1600 dpi for vivid, eye-catching labels. By using CMYKK, the L801 offers exceptional color and rich blacks, allowing for the ability to print with better contrast.
The L801 is an industrial web-fed inkjet solution, ideal for short- to medium-range print runs for inventory and product identification applications. It’s easy to use, has an integrated unwinder, works well with industry-standard label design software, and is available with an optional rewinder. The L801 is compatible with a wide range of paper, polyester, polypropylene and vinyl labelstocks from major vendors. With the correct labelstock, the L801 can create GHS-compliant labels. Afinia recommends its L801 optional rewinder for companies that experience high usage or heavy duty jobs. The rewinder can handle label sizes up to 8.5" wide and rolls with up to 8" outside diameter, and provides users the ability to choose the direction of rotation.
Allen Datagraph’s (ADSI) latest digital press offering is the iTech Centra 5 LED toner label printer. The iTech Centra 5 is capable of printing white along with a full complement of CMYK. This means that any designer is given full reign to print full graphics, including contone (photo) images, on a wide assortment of label substrates. It is capable of printing full color CMYK with a dense, white underprint on clear and colored substrates, or a white overprint for graphic elements. The iTech Centra 5 can print CMYK at 50 fpm or CMYK plus White at 41 fpm on roll stock up to 12.5" in width. This single pass technology from ADSI offers accurate color registration – important for small type on labels – and provides excellent, vibrant color. Configurations start at $49,995.
ADSI also offers the label industry the iTech Spectrum LED toner digital label printer. Now with optional white toner, converters can print with flood white on clear or colored substrates, allowing colors to pop. White can also be used for a graphic element to stand out on the page. The 25 fpm iTech Spectrum assures high-quality label printing at 600 dpi x 1200 dpi. It is capable of printing on either pre-diecut or continuous roll substrates and is compatible with most standard PS paper substrates. White, metallic and clear polyester films are also available. The ADSI Spectrum starts at $15,000.
Colordyne Technologies (CDT) offers its 3600 Series press, a full-featured process color digital label and tag production system with an enhanced precision web handling system, powered by Memjet technology. The CDT 3600 Series provides the latest in proven closed loop tension control technology and is available with low-cost inline finishing options and configurations. The 3600 has a print resolution of 1600 x 1375 dpi; speeds up to 225 fpm (69 m/m); and a user-friendly interface. The CDT 3600 Series web handling system also provides flexibility and modularity for custom configurations and future faster speeds.
Colordyne also offers the 2600 Series Mini Press, an out-of-the-box solution targeted for the label converter and brand owner, and provides both with the ability to produce high-quality labels and packaging without making a large investment in comparison to the larger digital printing platforms. The 2600 Series Mini Press runs at speeds up to 60 fpm (18 m/m) and has a high resolution of 1600 x 1600 dpi. It provides the user with many of the features of a larger production class platform but in a smaller compact solution.
Dantex recently introduced into the US market the PicoColour digital label press. With a printing width of 210 mm (8") and running capacity of 35 m/m (115 fpm), the UK-manufactured PicoColour is described by Dantex as a versatile and highly productive printing system offering superb printed results at a competitive price. The PicoColour works with UV-based inks and is available with CMYK + White. The press is versatile in its ability to print on a variety of different substrates and can print on thicknesses of 30 microns up to 320 microns.
The PicoColour delivers exceptionally smooth print tones and solid areas, which are designed for printing amazing life-like images, pin sharp text and bold colors with an extended color gamut. PicoColour is designed to work with Dantex’s specially formulated ink – a formulation that ensures a thin and even coverage without any loss of quality, integrity or color density.
Domino offers label manufacturers the Domino N610i, a digital inkjet press with a web width of 13" and up to seven colors, including opaque white. The press features 600 dpi “native” print resolution and operating speeds up to 246 fpm. The N610i uses vibrant UV curable inks designed for a range of industry standard self-adhesive labelstocks, including coated paper, polyethylene and polypropylene, normally without the need to prime. Key applications include industrial, security, health and safety, automotive, chemical, personal care and pharmaceutical labels.
The N610i press includes several innovative Domino technologies. For example, ActiFlow, the press’ ink circulating system, maintains a constant ink temperature and removes any dissolved air in the ink, thus delivering consistent print color and reliability. CleanCap is an automated printhead cleaning and capping station that maintains constant print nozzle performance for consistent print results and minimal downtime. And with StitchLink, using micro-motor controller technology, the printheads are aligned to micron levels of precision during installation, enabling seamless print across the full web width.
A new addition to the N610i is Textures by Domino, a unique inkjet capability that allows label printers to print an endless scope of digitally textured labels just by using the high opacity white ink on the N610i press – without the need to invest in expensive textured substrates. This technique enables printers to create visually striking, tactile labels that not only give products strong shelf presence but also help to increase customer engagement across a wide variety of markets.
The Durst Tau 330 inkjet system for digital labels and specialty packaging is a digital UV-inkjet press featuring High Definition Print Mode – up to 720 x 1260 dpi. The Tau 330 uses Durst’s new Low Migration/Low Odor Inks, which are suitable for primary food packaging and meet requirements in food and pharmaceutical sectors for low odor printing. This capability expands the range of suitable applications, and opens new markets and growth opportunities for label and packaging print providers.
The Tau 330 has a 14" web with full 13" image area at print speeds up to 157 fpm. Other featrures include Optional Opaque White, Process Color Addition (Orange & Violet) and the ability to integrate third party equipment inline (both front and back end). The press also has a chill roller to support printing thin films and foils
Recently, Durst launched the Tau 330 E, a budget-priced single pass Tau 330 E UV inkjet label press featuring high pigmented UV inks for reduced ink consumption. The 330 E has been designed with small- and medium-sized label converters in mind. It features print widths of 200mm or 330mm, with four or five colors and a printing speed of up to 157 fpm at a printing resolution of up to 1260 dpi. The system has been engineered with particular attention to equipment costs while maintaining the speed and printing quality of the flagship Tau 330 press. Its newly designed high-pigment UV inkjet inks provide a noticeable cost reduction, the company says.
EFI offers the Jetrion line of inkjet label presses. The newest addition to the press portfolio is the 4950LXe, which joins the 4950LX, 4900M/4900M-330 and 4900ML.
The new Jetrion 4950LXe version of EFI’s line of LED narrow web inkjet label presses helps customers create new opportunities with its expanded capabilities. Converters can extend their food-packaging applications into digital thanks to the press’ new low-migration ink for non-food-contact surface production. The press also offers a higher, 720×1260 dpi resolution for improved print quality, and increased durability and gloss level control using EFI Armor UVF and UVR coatings. This new Jetrion press version also offers extended versatility as it includes media compatibility profiles for a broader range of labelstocks, including Avery Dennison substrates used for durable labels and wine applications.
The Jetrion 4900ML offers the proven design of the Jetrion 4000 series, and a robust flexo-style web with an industrial grade transport and platform. The press features continuous job queue for printing stacked jobs, reducing materials or manpower between jobs or finished rolls. Full feature finishing, such as diecutting, slitting and backscoring enable standard industry finished rolls at output end. To avoid outsourcing or eliminating working on multiple devices, the 4900M has bright and opaque white printing capabilities that rival flexo presses in one single pass with the process colors, the company says, and it has UL PGJI2 recognition and pre-certification on a variety of substrates, saving money and time. The integrated EFI Fiery XF RIP accelerates production, unifies the handling of printing devices, and delivers high-quality output and color.
Epson’s new SurePress L-6034W is the company’s first single-pass industrial press to use Epson’s PrecisionCore linehead technology and the first to use Epson’s low migration LED UV curing ink. Leveraging these technologies, the L-6034W is engineered to deliver precise quality and high-speed printing, which are ideal for short- to mid-run jobs across all industries. Developed and manufactured by Epson, the new SurePress is designed for label converters investing in a digital label press for the first time or looking to expand production facilities with a reliable, easy-to-use press. The SurePress L-6034W is described by Epson as a compact machine that produces high-quality durable labels all day, every day with minimal downtime, and integrates all of the functions required for label production, including a corona treater, White ink, digital varnish and an additional UV curing unit.
The Epson PrecisionCore linehead is the key component behind the SurePress L-6034W, while the flexibility to print high-opacity UV White ink first or last significantly boosts image impact on clear and metallic substrates, and expands the variety of labels that can be produced. The PrecisionCore Linehead enables high-speed, single-pass printing to deliver industry-leading output quality and durability; a digital monitoring system maintains high productivity using Nozzle State Analysis to manage dropped inkjet nozzles. The press’ LED UV Curing Ink is a quick-drying UV ink that boosts productivity and offers excellent weather, scratch, chemical, and water resistance. The LED light source saves space and offers lower energy use, enabling printing on heat-sensitive substrates. Gloss or matte finish can be selected for the overall label, and appealing partial accents can be added using glossy or matte spot varnish. A center drum system feeds the substrate with precision to minimize color unevenness and reduce the heat expansion or shrinkage of the substrate, enabling various types of off-the-shelf standard flexographic substrates to be used.
For white ink printing, SurfaceWhite Print and Reverse-White Print are available to extend the range of expression on clear and metalized films. The press supports rolls from 3.15 to 13" wide up to 0.013" (0.32 mm) thick.
HP’s flagship label press is the HP Indigo WS6800 digital press, the third generation in the HP Indigo WS6000 series. According to HP, the WS6800 delivers the industry’s highest crossover point versus flexo when it comes to narrow web pressure sensitive label printing.
The WS6800 has top printing speeds of 98 fpm in 4-color mode and up to 131 fpm in Enhanced Productivity mode, with advanced color automation and color matching. HP’s liquid ElectroInk technology delivers high resolution printing and perfect registration – converters can meet even the most stringent corporate branding requirements using up to seven ink stations and a color gamut reaching up to 97% of Pantone colors. HP’s SmartStream Mosaic technology enables SKU proliferation, seasonal redesigns, and mass customization for campaigns that boost sales. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Nestle, P&G and Oreo all offer recent branding and packaging success stories that utilized the WS6000 series and SmartStream Mosaic. In addition, variable data capabilities for brands include unlimited designs, bar codes, text, images and security features.
The press allows converters to produce any narrow web label, flexible packaging, sleeve, IML, wraparound label or folding carton jobs. It supports 0.5 pt to 18 pt materials, including standard substrates with inline priming. HP Indigo ElectroInk Premium White delivers high-opacity white in a one-pass process.
The Color Automation Package of the HP Indigo WS6800 features a built-in spectrophotometer and software tools to simplify color management and eliminate the need for expensive software, hardware and manual calibration processes. The system’s Automatic Alert Agent provides early detection and quality control to help find and highlight inconsistencies between the digital file and the printed images in real time.
In 2016, the HP Indigo 8000 digital press was launched. Described as the label industry’s most productive digital narrow web press, with two WS6800 print engines, it doubles production speeds of the 6000 series by reaching top speeds of 262 fpm.
The NW210 UV inkjet narrow web press from INX International delivers what INX says is best-in-class image quality performance with UV LED advanced curing technology. It delivers single pass output on any labelstock at speeds up to 80 fpm, combining printing and conversion to produce outstanding color printed labels at a maximum printing width of 210mm. The press also incorporates a Spartanics laser diecutting station and Xaar patented technology with multiple drop sizes and color ink channels.
This digital label press has a maximum printing width of 210mm (8.25") and can print to any length. Powered by the JetINX printhead drive and ink recirculation system, the NW210 press delivers low-heat UV-LED pinning and curing and five color ink channels. The latest in Xaar patented print technology includes 15 1002 8-level gray scale printheads capable of printing an apparent resolution of greater than 1000 dpi. Additionally, the press features a double-screen workstation, allowing press operators to check and manage every part of the process, from file upload to final adjustments.
iSys Label recently introduced the Luna 850, a desktop cut sheet printer specifically for the small lot wine or beverage producer. Fitting 8.5" x 11" (215.9mm x 279.4mm) sheets of diecut wine label material, the printer allows users the ability to bring beverage label printing in-house for small and large wineries alike. The software is designed to be easy-to-use and allows for full color management and precise color matching. Diecut labels can be printed and applied within minutes, making the need for outsourcing a thing of the past, the company says.
iSys Label also offers its flagship products, the Apex 1290 and Edge 850, digital label printers for short- to mid-run production. With media print widths ranging from 3" to 12.9" wide, these printers allow users to eliminate the need for ordering pre-printed labels, reduce inventory and wait times, and allows users to customize each label with variable information in full color.
Konica Minolta has entered the label market with the bizhub Press C71cf, a dry toner-based press designed specifically for production of non-self-adhesive and self-adhesive labels at a competitive price. The press runs at 13.5 m/m with a maximum paper width of 330mm. The press is positioned to fill the gap between entry-level and high-end label printing presses currently available. The bizhub Press C71cf prints full CMYK color, supports 1200 dpi (3600 dpi equivalent) x 1200 dpi / 8 bit gradation, and has a maximum printing size of 47" x 12.5". Gloss and matte papers, as well as synthetic, polypropylene, polyester and BOPP substrates, are supported. Feeding speeds will range from 62 fpm to 31 fpm depending on the paper type and options selected. Variable data printing is supported and both the PPML and PDF/VT formats are included (PDF/VT requires an available APPE option).
Mark Andy has launched the Digital One, a new entry-level digital printing and converting label press for printing short-run prime labels with inline converting. The Digital One is designed to be an ideal choice for the first time digital press buyer.
The Digital One offers 4-color CMYK digital process printing at 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution on a pay-as-you-go model. It also combines with a single flexo station for inline converting and decorating. The standardized configuration features a web width of 13" (330mm) with printing speeds reaching 63 fpm (19 m/m) on various substrates, including pressure sensitive paper, unsupported paper and tag stocks. The servo-driven flexo station offers capabilities to spot color, varnish, laminate and cold foil with inline finishing offering diecutting, stripping and slitting capabilities.
Equipped with air-cooled UV LED curing and an onboard compressor, Digital One requires only a 220v single-phase power source, making for easy installation.
The NeuraLabel 300x is a high-speed, high-resolution printer for on-demand GHS-compliant, color label printing. Built on advanced HP PageWide technology, the NeuraLabel 300x is capable of print speeds up to 20" per second. With print resolution up to 2400 x 1200 dpi, colors pop and graphics look sharp on finished labels, the company says. The NeuraLabel 300x prints labels from 1.5" to 8.5" in width, on sheeted, fan-folded and rolled label media. The NeuraLabel 300x prints full-color GHS-compliant labels on blank labelstock, eliminating the need for preprinted labels. Water-resistant pigment inks ensure that labels will be durable and resist damage due to abrasion, saltwater immersion and UV exposure.
Primera Technology offers the CX1200, a digital color label press ideal for cost-effective, short-run full-color digital label printing. The CX1200 prints in 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution with 4800 color quality (2400 x 600 dpi), producing labels with colors that are bright and vibrant, along with sharp text and bar codes. For precise color control, Pantone-approved color support is included with the CX1200 and additional profiles for various substrates are available, including pressure sensitive papers to white and clear polyesters and more. A wide range of approved matte, semi-gloss and high-gloss materials are also available, allowing for precise substrate matching.
The CX1200’s print speed is 16.25 fpm. Operators can print up to 1250’ at a time, which nominally equals a 12" diameter roll. Primera’s exclusive IntelliTorque tensioning control system continuously monitors tension across the web. It uses this feedback to apply variable torque on the rewind mandrel, resulting in perfect, tightly wound rolls.
Primera’s micro-fine dry toner-based inks used with the CX1200 have been formulated for substrate flexibility, robustness and low running costs, as well as a high level of abrasion and UV resistance. The four extra high-capacity toner cartridges are easily replaced in just seconds from the front of the unit. An integrated memory chip assigns each cartridge with a serial number and keeps track of precisely how much toner remains, allowing operators to select exactly the right cartridges for the number of labels and the ink coverage needed.
The CX1200 comes equipped with Primera’s PTPrint 8.0 for Windows production software. Features include: importing of virtually all popular file formats; instant customer proofs; estimating job costs; calculating toner and substrate use through the PTPrint Status Monitor utility; step-and-repeat; and printing of timing marks for use with off-line finishing equipment.
The Truepress Jet L350UV is Screen’s answer to the demand for value-added packaging. Its versatility, photo-realistic quality, fast job turnarounds and stable output are standout features of this inkjet label printing system.
The L350UV delivers a peak speed of 164 fpm. Screen’s proprietary high-definition UV inks produce a wider color gamut with the Truepress Jet L350UV than that of the typical four-color process. Optional opaque white ink further boosts color vibrancy and allows printing on transparent film and metallic foil. Another bonus built into the L350V is simplified maintenance through its automatic printhead cleaning function. Results stay consistent with a click of a button to start the cleaning process after printing is finished. The next time the Truepress Jet L350UV is started up, it’s ready to get back to the next round of printing work immediately.
Screen also offers the Truepress Jet L250AQ small label printer. This compact, short run, digital inkjet label press uses water-based dye ink. Its long lasting printheads produce 1600 dpi print resolution on a variety of media. With its large touchscreen monitor and accompanying software that calculates exact cost per label, the L250AQ delivers on Screen’s goal of meeting modern printing needs in an ever-changing market. It also features a self-predictive full printhead cleaning system and web cleaner.
SPGPrints manufactures and markets the DSI UV-inkjet label printer. The 13" (330mm)-wide DSI UV-inkjet printer is custom-built as a standalone production unit with many options. Intermediate inline LED pinning stations and chill drum are standard, ensuring image crispness and stability on plastic and paper. In addition to CMYK, the press can feature up to six extra stations: orange and violet, to achieve 90% of the Pantone color gamut, opaque white with industry-leading 93% optical density, and digital primer. Inks formulated and manufactured by SPGPrints offer outstanding chemical, scratch and sunlight resistance.
The DSI press can also be used for second-pass printing applications, for example, by adding variable data, such as serialized or personalized information, onto previously analog-printed labels. According to SPGPrints, numerous label printing houses around the world have achieved success in short- and long-run retail packaging and industrial markets as a result of installing the DSI press.
Coined as the world’s first affordable mini digital label press, the compact TrojanTwo, priced at €40,000, runs at 18 m/m and up to 1600 x 1600 dpi, providing both vivid and accurate color on a wide assortment of media. TrojanTwo features sophisticated algorithms and inline printhead maintenance, enabling both short and long runs, and consistently high print quality. The user-interface is easy to learn and operate, the company says.
Valloy says its newest product, the Topaz UV 13R, was born from an ambitious development project aided by the Korean government. The printer, which runs from 3-6 m/m, is a compact style UV inkjet narrow web roll-to-roll printer, positioned in the middle of the economic low-end, small UV label printers. Topaz UV 13R is equipped with Ricoh’s new GH2220 heads, and it is the first trial of using the head for this narrow web application. The printer 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 on an industrial level, this new printer is priced at $59,000.
Topaz UV 13R uses 350mm width rolls and cures the ink via LED UV lamps. It supports reversible and repeatable layer printing features,
so users can flexibly print white and varnish ink first or last selectively, as well as printing varnish color repeatedly to have thicker depth for semi-3D effects.
As Xeikon’s flagship narrow web label press, the 3300 is designed to excel in productivity and high-quality printing at true 1200 dpi, built around the commonly used 13" web width. Taking full advantage of its digital front-end, the Xeikon 3300 offers a high degree of flexibility.
The 3300 is suited for prime label applications, heat transfer label applications, and can print on a wide range of substrates without pre-coating/treatment. The press features full rotary printing, independent of the number of colors or the repeat length. Using Xeikon’s dry toners, labels printed on the 3300 are food safe, providing peace of mind for converters serving the important food label sector. The 3300 prints at 63 fpm and handles production volumesup to 380 sqm/hr.
The Xeikon 3030 is the company’s entry level press and has true 1200 x 3600 dpi imaging resolution, with media widths of up to 13", and can handle a variety of substrates without pretreatment or priming. Of particular importance to Xeikon press adopters is the “one-pass” opaque white toner, which is ideal for the production of high-quality labels.
Just like any press in the Xeikon 3000 series, users can upgrade their Xeikon 3030 Plus to a higher speed (Xeikon 3300) or to a higher speed and wider web (Xeikon 3500) without compromising quality. The Xeikon 3500 is the company’s flagship wide web label press, printing 1200 dpi for widths up to 20.3" at 63 fpm.
Xeikon’s fastest label press is the CX3, which is based on “Cheetah” technology – so aptly named for its 98 fpm printing speeds. Dedicated to self-adhesive label production, the 13" press has full rotary printing with variable repeat, true 1200 dpi, FDA food-safe toners and prints on substrates commonly used with flexo. The company says the CX3’s combination of speed, versatility and quality sets it apart from the competition.
Xeikon recently launched its Fusion Technology, a series of embellishment modules that are not just put inline with the press but are components of an entirely new modular system with the digital front end, thus taking care of the prepress, data processing, color management and press operation, as well as full control and operation of all embellishment modules without manual intervention.