While labels remained central to the overall Labelexpo experience, the show floor reflected its continued diversification into flexible package printing, with a wider appeal for brand owners and wide web converters. With 25% more working machinery demonstrated at the show, 2017’s event was used for a large number of significant product launches, as new machines were unveiled by many of the leading press manufacturers. In addition, inkjet technology made a real breakthrough at this year’s show.
Running alongside the Linerless Trail and educational Master Classes from the Label Academy, the Automation Arena feature area made its debut, as it highlighted the latest automated label and package printing technology. As Industry 4.0 becomes a reality for label printers, the Automation Arena was put on to show the complete automated workflow in action from job creation and prepress through to finishing and customer invoicing. The special feature area was run in partnership with AVT, Cerm, Esko, Grafotronic, Kocher + Beck, Matho, MPS, Wasberger and Xeikon.
Growth in the digital print technology sector remained evident, with several launches of digital and hybrid presses, as well as digital finishing equipment, taking place throughout the event. There was also a wealth of new flexo press developments with enhanced features for automation, package printing and increased efficiency for short runs.
Lisa Milburn, Labelexpo’s managing director, said, “The Labelexpo team worked incredibly hard to deliver outstanding content for what was a very bold show, and thanks to the commitment and support of our exhibitors and industry partners, we’ve created a very successful business environment for the industry. This edition broke all previous records, and its success is a testament to the fact that the label and package printing industry continues to see Labelexpo as being the place to be. We are still extremely ambitious for the show’s future, and we look forward to returning to Brussels with an even bigger and better event in September 2019.”
Show floor highlights
To drive home its Labelexpo theme of “Pioneering Change,” Avery Dennison decided showing was better than telling by unveiling its booth made in part from recycled label waste – a Labelexpo first. Renae Kezar, Avery Dennison’s global senior director of sustainability, said the booth was a fun and visible way to visualize the urgent issue of label waste, the possibilities for the industry to conduct business more sustainably, and Avery Dennison’s love of any opportunity to innovate. “The reliance on liners in the pressure sensitive industry, and the related waste, is an issue we are keen to address,” Kezar said. “One of our 2025 sustainability goals involves a commitment to help our customers reduce the waste from our products. Another goal calls for us to create more products that have positive environmental impacts.” The waste material was recycled, reprocessed and combined with other recycled cellulosic materials into a product called ECOR by Noble Environmental Technologies. Noble converted the collected waste into panels that were then used in a number of elements of the booth, including meeting rooms, storage areas, technical areas, floors, walls and an activation zone called “Change The Future.” (For specifics on Avery Dennison product launches, turn to page 44.)
During Labelexpo, Domino confirmed it had positive results using its latest UV90 6-color UV-curable ink set operating in the N610i inkjet label press, successfully printing on a number of industry standard shrink sleeve materials. There were a number of converted samples available at the company’s booth. These inks have excellent physical properties for printing on self-adhesive labels, but shrink sleeve capability has long been a disadvantage for inkjet when compared to liquid toner solutions. With its latest technological breakthrough, this is no longer the case, said Philip Easton, director of Domino’s Digital Printing Solution’s business. “We are in the process of understanding the cost of ownership model for shrink sleeve printing. Industry research suggests that many of the liquid toner applications are just used for prototype production and early product life requirements. This is mostly driven by high unit cost and slow running speeds. We think the Domino N610i high speed inkjet solution, running 70 m/m, combined with a lower cost flexo printed white for the backing, will offer a different proposition and will be a disruptive technology.”
Under the theme “Labeling a smarter future,” UPM Raflatac highlighted its newest sustainable label solutions. The RAFNXT+ product range marked the launch of a forest positive approach for sustainable labeling. Together with optimized raw material efficiencies, RAFNXT+ creates labeling solutions that deliver sustainability credentials that go way beyond the industry standard. The new RPMD adhesive range, targeted especially for the medical device and healthcare industries, can be used for products like insulin pens, auto-injectors, inhalers and infusion bags and bottles, as well as blood donation labeling and sterilization pouches. Selected paper and film face materials, combined with a new multi-faceted RPMD adhesive, have excellent adhesion with a tight mandrel hold on glass and plastic, and are both sterilization resistant and migration safe. UPM Raflatac’s Rafbio PE85 film is a sustainable alternative to standard PE film that contains more than 80% renewable plant-based raw material. It’s made of sugarcane ethanol and performs just like standard PE film. The product is ideal for home and personal care applications and has excellent flexibility for squeezable packaging and contoured containers.
At the show, Bobst launched M8, a high-speed, automated print production and finishing system for flexible packaging and related work. The new line is a multi-process, multi-web inline printing and converting machine. It features Bobst’s Digital Flexo technology on a machine with web widths up to 1070 mm and speeds up to 400 m/m. The Digital Flexo features include complete digital control of the press, with camera-monitored closed loop press operations. Bobst also announced the introduction of a new version of its DigiMount fully automated flexo plate mounting system. “These capabilities will have momentous effects on today’s market dynamics with their golden rule of ‘diversify to succeed’.” said Matteo Cardinotti, managing director of Bobst Firenze and head of the narrow and mid-web multi-process product line.
Colordyne Technologies showcased its newest development in digital inkjet printing, the 3600 Series UV - Retrofit. As a complement to its current aqueous-based solutions, the 3600 Series UV – Retrofit provides a cost-effective method for adding process color UV inkjet printing capabilities to existing converting equipment. The 3600 Series UV - Retrofit is powered by Colordyne’s proprietary print engine control software, leveraging the latest in UV inkjet imaging technology. “We have experienced impressive results from our current 3600 Series UV - Retrofit installations,” said Gary Falconbridge, president and CEO. “Working with our customers allowed us to engineer a product that we are confident will meet the market’s demands for quality, speed and price.”
At the Delta ModTech booth, a Crusader finishing and converting line demonstrated its ability for precise part placement. The system featured a variety of processes, including tight tolerance rotary diecutting, multi-layer lamination and the INTELLI-MOD control system. INTELLI-MOD gives converters complete control of each module and is designed to perfect each segment of a converting process. Since there is a separate servo motor at each station, the diecut modules can be adjusted independently of each other. This allows the machine to make precise cuts even when eyemarks are inconsistent.
In addition to showcasing its Tau 330 and Tau 330E digital UV inkjet presses, Durst unveiled the Tau 330 RSC, an inline high-speed UV inkjet label press in tandem with Omet’s XFlex X6 hybrid solution. The package printing press has a 13" (330mm) print width combined with print speeds of up to 245 fpm (78 m/m) at 1200 x 1200 dpi printing resolutions. The press achieves a production capacity of 1.485 m² per hour, as well as eight color stations (CMYK+W+OVG) equipped with newly designed high pigmented inks. Durst also introduced its new Web2Print solution for online design, preview and ordering of all kinds of packaging products.
Esko showcased prepress solutions designed to improve lead time and equipment utilization, reduce errors and ensure consistent output quality regardless of the printing technology used. The company highlighted WebCenter QuickStart for Labels, which is a turnkey out-of-the-box project management and communication bundle for label production with pre-configured process flows targeted at label converters of any size. “All industry trends confirm that the label industry continues to enjoy healthy growth, with a shift towards more short runs that need to be turned around faster,” said Udo Panenka, president of Esko.
ETI Converting demonstrated its Mini-Cohesio machine for labelstock production at Labelexpo. Features include short length, two unwinds for facestock and liner, a silicone applicator, an adhesive coating station, and a register system to synchronize the lamination of two pre-printed webs. The Mini-Cohesio is available in 13" widths and is also equipped with the high-speed rotary diecutting unit, the Pellicut.
Fujifilm introduced to the European market Illumina, a UV LED retrofit curing system. It allows traditional UV and water-based flexo presses to be converted to UV LED curing, boosting productivity and environmental performance while reducing costs and waste. “Illumina is the most cutting-edge, innovative LED UV curing system on the market,” said Steve Wakefield, aftermarket support manager, Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems. “It offers label and narrow web printers the triple benefit of massively lower energy costs, improved productivity and a much healthier working environment.”
Under the theme “Speed up your Success,” Gallus spotlighted its new Labelmaster and Labelfire presses alongside the latest offerings from Gallus Services and Gallus Screen Printing. Labelmaster is the fastest narrow web label press the company has ever built. Thanks to the module variants Plus and Advanced, the platform can be used to configure the right press for any business model and it’s touted as being extremely flexible. The company also focused on reduced throughput times for manufacturing digitally printed labels by highlighting the Gallus Labelfire 340 digital label printing press with added inline finishing processes. Labelfire can produce finished and diecut labels in a single production operation, thus saving time, costs and material compared to a multi-step production process, as there is no changeover required for subsequent processing. Gallus also underscored how its customers now benefit from the dense global network of Heidelberg local service organizations and faster on-the-spot service.
GEW showed its comprehensive range of UV curing solutions comprising mercury arc systems, LED systems and hybrid systems, together with the associated fully hybrid Rhino ArcLED electronic power supply. The latest advanced power supplies from GEW can run LED curing technology as standard, and they are ready to extend with either LED or conventional mercury arc in the future as changes in job requirements or ink formulations dictate.
Harper Corporation of America showcased how its programs, services, surface technology and engravings can enhance efficient print repeatability and improve profitability. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the latest products and services, and Harper also displayed its patented QD ink proofing and flatbed printing system. The QD printer can be configured in four speed units with a maximum travel speed of 150 fpm (45 m/m). The travel distance can be set from 12" to 33" in 1" increments and is available in proofer widths of 2.75"or 5".
HP debuted GEM technology, which enables the application of fully digital graphic embellishments in one pass. Developed with JetFX, GEM enables streamlined production of digital spot and tactile varnishes, special effects, digital foils and more. The HP Indigo 8000 digital press was displayed alongside the best-selling HP Indigo WS6000 series. The HP Indigo 20000 digital press, with its mid-web format capturing new opportunities for digital flexible packaging, labels and sleeve applications, was also in action at the 2,400-square-meter HP stand. During the show, US-based Blue Label Digital Printing sealed the deal on its purchase of an HP Indigo 8000 press, which is now installed and running at the craft beer label specialist’s Lancaster, OH facility. (For more on Blue Label and its new press, turn to page 48 of this issue.)
INX International Ink Co. exhibited UV, EB and low migration inks and coatings, as well as digital printing technologies. The company introduced GAIA, an end-to-end inkjet production line with inline ebeam curing for indirect food packaging and labels. For GAIA, INX worked with Uteco and eBeam Technologies. “We are especially excited about GAIA,” said Peter Lockley, president of INX Europe. “It was created by combining INX Digital’s custom integration of digital technologies and print engines with Uteco’s expertise in web handling and an inline curing unit from ebeam Technologies.”
Kocher+Beck presented its latest version of GapMaster, along with UR Precision Nonstop Equipment. The company also highlighted the new compact screen development system (TecScreen), which enables a standardized screen development process. The Kocher+Beck 3L - Laser Long Life flexible die, which was also on display, features a laser hardening process in combination with patented edge polishing finishing.
Konica Minolta formally unveiled its AccurioLabel 190 full-digital toner press that, in Europe, was developed and manufactured in cooperation with Danish company Grafisk Maskinfabrik (GM). The AccurioLabel 190 benefits from stable color consistency and 1200x1200 dpi offset-style quality. No pre-coating is required, either. The new machine comes with a web guiding system as a standard, and it will succeed the C71cf, Minolta’s first full-digital label press system.
Following the success of its PicoColour UV digital label press, Dantex presented the PicoJet digital UV inkjet press, where the company has joined forces with Ricoh. Richard Danon, Dantex Group chairman, said, “It was a natural progression for us to consider expanding our range from PicoColour. We needed to go wider, faster and finer in resolution, and Ricoh became the partner of choice for us.” PicoJet, with its 350mm width and running speeds of 250 fpm (75 m/m), offers 7-color printing at 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution and 2.5pl dot size. PicoJet includes static control, web cleaning and corona treatment for broad choice substrate printing capability, for which Ricoh heads are ideally suited, Danon explained.
EFI presented version 5 of the EFI Packaging Suite, which gives label and packaging converters comprehensive business and production workflows that increase enterprise-wide profitability. The Suite, which features EFI Radius as its core ERP software, includes workflow enhancements in estimating, job planning and shop floor data collection, as well as new digital print workflows and additional tools that enhance user productivity and collaboration. Other new Packaging Suite workflow enhancements include online packaging procurement with EFI Digital StoreFront web-to-print software, automated planning optimization with EFI Metrix software, global resource scheduling with EFI PrintFlow software, and dynamic, rich multi-channel marketing campaigns with EFI DirectSmile software.
Siteline for Label Traxx made its debut at Labelexpo Europe. It gives customers a set of tools that makes it faster, easier and more efficient to conduct business. Customers receive the ability to access all their pertinent label business information online and place reorders from any connected device. “For most label printers, consistent growth is mostly due to an incremental increase in business from customers you already have a trusted relationship with,” explained Label Traxx president Ken Meinhardt. “The customer service team, who interacts with them daily, are the ones driving this business growth. It becomes key to eliminate the manual tasks they undertake – such as processing standard orders – so they are free to spend time building new opportunities with customers.”
Mark Andy introduced a new digital alternative to traditional rotary screen printing, the latest option in the company’s growing digital hybrid portfolio. The new inline print module integrates single color digital UV inkjet printing with the Performance Series platform. Digital Plus Screen, a subset of the company’s Digital Plus Program, is designed to enhance existing presses. It gives users the ability to quickly create dimensional, highly opaque prints without the capital costs, setup constraints and extensive cleaning needed with traditional screen printing technologies. This process streamlines the entire label production workflow, simplifying the movement of art files to print. Designed with UV inkjet printing with interstation pinning, the module prints fine text, bar codes, sequential numbering and screen-like white ink all in a single-pass and at high quality with speeds up to 240 fpm (73 m/m). The solution is positioned for those looking for a cost-effective alternative to rotary screen. It is available both as a rail-mounted option on new equipment or as a retrofit, enhancing Performance Series presses with digital flexibility.
The Mark Andy stand at Labelexpo also marked a significant highlight in the cooperative partnership between the narrow web press manufacturer and Vetaphone, the Danish pioneers of surface treatment. The VE1A corona treater fitted to the Mark Andy Digital Series press being demonstrated was the 10,000th narrow web unit to be built by Vetaphone. Speaking for the company, CEO Frank Eisby said,“With almost 70 of our units working or on static display at the exhibition, we are delighted that number 10,000 was fitted to a Mark Andy press – a great example of two top brands working together.” With a claimed global share in narrow web of some 80%, Vetaphone has long set the industry standard, but the agreement with Mark Andy is as recent as 2014, when the press manufacturer elected to make the Danish company its preferred supplier of corona treatment for all European presses.
Xeikon announced new digital label presses in both the UV inkjet and dry toner segments that will extend its digital label printing portfolio. New product announcements included the Xeikon CX500 wide web digital label press in the company’s Cheetah Series, which is the first press based on a new generation dry toner platform that is ready for Industry 4.0. Also introduced was the Xeikon Panther Series of UV inkjet digital label presses, including the high-end Xeikon PX3000 and the newly announced entry-level Xeikon PX2000, both to be made available on 4-color and 5-color configuration. Benoit Chatelard, president and CEO Digital Solutions, Flint Group, commented, “We are proud to announce we have been able to rapidly grow our digital label printing portfolio, for both our Panther Series of UV inkjet presses and our Cheetah Series of dry toner digital label presses. These ‘Fast Felines’ are setting the pace for digital label manufacturing and will open the door for a broader range of self-adhesive label converters to more readily take advantage of the benefits of digital label production. These announcements reinforce our continued dedication to investment in dry toner technology, while we also continue to advance our presence in complementary UV inkjet solutions. As a technology-agnostic total solutions partner with almost 25 years of experience in digital printing, Xeikon is ideally positioned to help label converters, now and in the future, choose the most optimal technology for their businesses based on the specific requirements of the end-user applications they produce.” On its stand, Xeikon demonstrated its complementary product portfolio with the Xeikon PX3000, the brand-new Xeikon CX500 and the Xeikon CX3 running live. Setup of the latter includes the first commercial module of Fusion, an opaque white digital screen printing unit. Fusion Technology brings the promise of fully automated label manufacturing closer to reality, and it combines printing with digital embellishment of labels and packaging in a single, one-pass and fully digital production process. True to its continuous and forward-looking development strategy, Xeikon has confirmed the commercial availability of Fusion.
Martin Automatic demonstrated its MBS automatic splicer and the LRD automatic transfer rewinder. The MBS standard features allow for a wide range of materials, as demands for newer and different webs drive the industry for a greater variety of labeling solutions. The LRD is a two-spindle transfer rewind that winds, changes and automatically offloads rolls, without any need for carts or additional roll handling equipment. “The MBS and LRD are our most popular machines, and we are continually amazed at the demand to see these machines in action,” said Martin Automatic’s Bernd Schopferer.
Meech displayed its web cleaning systems and Hyperion range of anti-static bars. On display, alongside the Hyperion range, was Meech’s complete set of web cleaning systems, including the Cyclean and TakClean. The CyClean is a compact non-contact system designed to remove and extract contamination. “Meech understands the challenges the labeling and packaging industries face, and Labelexpo gives us the opportunity to tackle these issues,” explained Adam Battrick, sales director at Meech. “We continue to develop our technologies and tailor them to suit the various needs of our customers.”
MPS unveiled a new connectivity technology that allows for real-time data exchange and control at any given moment. Labeled “talk to me,” the concept is a protocol for exchanging data between MIS and MPS printing presses. “Our promise to the market is being ‘Operator Focused, Results Driven’,” said Bert van den Brink, co-founder and technical director at MPS. “The best way to achieve maximum printing productivity is to ensure that operators have the tools and freedom to get the most out of their machines.” MPS also demonstrated a second fully equipped EF press at the Automation Arena.
Nilpeter premiered the all-new FA flexo press at Labelexpo Europe. The latest addition to the Danish press manufacturer’s flexo program was showcased alongside one of the company’s newly upgraded digital Panorama hybrid presses. Based on Nilpeter’s Clean-Hand design approach, the FA ensures clean hands during press operation, with a minimum of hands-on press interaction. Meanwhile, all data is saved, jobs are easily recalled and the press will auto register. In addition to the all-new FA, Nilpeter displayed the newly upgraded Panorama hybrid press. Since the launch of the Panorama digital product line at Labelexpo Europe 2015, the company has made major enhancements, including a re-design of the Panorama’s converting and flexo printing units, as well as updates of the press software. The new digital Panorama hybrid configurations cover a wide and varied spectrum of customer needs and requirements – from standalone, to all-round and value-added hybrids.
Omet presented multiple presses at Labelexpo Europe, including the XFlex X6.0, iFlex and XFlex X6 Offset, which were upgraded according to Industry 4.0 drivers. These three lines were displayed with live demonstrations in order to showcase enhanced technology levels, versatility and completeness. According to Omet, digitalization, interconnection, remote control, and high precision diagnostics are the main principles that are leading the industry into the future. The Omet iFlex drew particular attention at Labelexpo Europe thanks to its new version equipped with specific chill rolls, which increase the versatility of the press and, Omet said, was “born to revolutionize the concept of label printing. Thanks to a set of new innovations, it allows for excellent printing results through ease of use, intuitiveness and quick operations.” Omet iFlex is a narrow web printing press 14.5" wide (370 mm), with maximum speed of 190 m/m and printing repeat from 5.5" to 18". It offers the possibility to print with different technologies, such as flexo UV, UV LED or water-based and rotary screen printing, with inline diecutting (repeat from 8" to 24").
Pamarco showcased its range of engraved anilox rolls with extended EFlo technology. They are suited for use in high graphic printing applications using UV, water and solvent-based inks. “Labelexpo is a great opportunity to meet our global clients and distributors, to share information on our latest developments and understand how we can continue to meet their needs and add value to their process,” said David Parr, sales manager for Pamarco Europe, adding, “Our engraving has proven to be a game changer for flexographic printers as they strive for higher quality and faster press speeds.”
Prati exhibited a number of machines with specific configurations for the label market. The Digifast One was presented in two configurations: the compact and the advanced models, accomplishing high-speed, accurate processing of value-added labels, as well as wine labels. The new Futura open-platform technology featured a scalable architecture concept designed for performance upgrades.
RotoMetrics launched its first flexible die specifically manufactured to help digital press converters optimize diecutting performance. RotoMetrics’ DigiNow flexible die is designed to cut all standard digital PS materials. DigiNow is specifically designed to work with semi-rotary offline finishers equipped with an adjustable anvil roll. The DigiNow marks the first combined product development effort of the RotoMetrics and Electro Optic R&D teams since the companies merged this past spring.
The Univacco CF4.6R-A Cold Foil launched at Labelexpo Europe, where it was displayed on an array of labels. The CF4.6R-A is compatible with machines and substrates throughout the graphics industry, sand is pecifically crafted to meet the demands of designers and printers alike. The workability shortens adjustment time, making it ready for action quickly on a variety of substrates, including self-adhesive labels, shrink sleeves, PE tubes and more.
Wink presented its full portfolio of premium diecutting solutions and “maximum care” services. The company highlighted the SmartGap system, which is simple and flexible to operate. The operator can adapt the gap (clearance) with enhanced accuracy individually for the drive and operator side. Wink ran live demos of the “Touch” version with digital control and smart features, which are designed to improve production efficiency. “Within a very short time since its launch, the Wink SmartGap has been established as the leading adjustable system in the market. Because the cutting depth does not have to be regulated via the pretension, the service life of the tools is increased at the same time. In contrast to other adjustable systems, the SmartGap does not have any limitations – even cutting through, and high web speeds can be realized without problems,” explained Andre Gysbers, Wink’s marketing director.
AB Graphic launched its new flat screen printing unit. The new module has a full rotary web motion while still using a flatbed screen. “The quality of UV curing is also improved by the rotary web motion – ensuring consistency along the whole web,” explained sales director Tony Bell. While the physical size of the module has been reduced by over 20%, the print area has increased to 410 mm in the web direction, making it compatible with ABG’s Big Foot 50 ton hot foil stamping unit, plus there is the option of a chill roller for delicate substrates. “Operators will benefit from an easier set up. Motorized lateral and skew adjustments for precise screen image position, plus real-time servo adjustment of the squeegee and scraper position, make it easy for the operator to regulate the level of ink through the mesh and onto the web,” Bell added.
At Labelexpo, acpo shared how it has recognized the flexible packaging and label printing industry’s desire for new solutions by developing several products. These include the O2xBloc high oxygen barrier print webs, Auth-N-Tech brand protection films and Sofsens films with a soft-to-the-touch feel. acpo has expanded its coated film product offerings to flexible packaging converters and brand owners, now offering high-end barrier coated films under the O2xBloc trademark. The O2xBloc films were developed to meet the most stringent oxygen barrier requirements for flexible packaging. These clear films will give converters a cost effective alternative to multi-layer and PVDC coated barrier films while providing ultra-high oxygen barrier properties, flex crack and thermal resistance to support high-speed filling on packaging lines and pouch converting equipment. Excellent print reception will eliminate the need for a third layer, which will support package light weighting, economics and efficiency.
To help combat growing counterfeiting issues, acpo has developed multiple overlaminates with embedded security features. The Auth-N-Tech line gives brand owners several options, including hidden customized messages, visual and audible authentication or layered technologies, making anti-counterfeit measures easy to implement and verify. With a smooth velvet-like touch, the Sofsens line provides a high-end look and feel along with high durability and print protection. The matte finish boasts thermal transfer printability and is able to be spot varnished for an enhanced appeal. Ideal for luxury packaging and health and beauty products, Sofsens is a tactile treat for the senses.
QSPAC highlighted its latest solutions for the labels and tag industries. Based in Santa Fe Springs, CA, the company offers BOPP and PET films coated with a high-performance and clear emulsion acrylic adhesive to provide an excellent finish and protection. With a growing emphasis on digital printing, QSPAC discussed its lamination solutions for short-run digital printing. Digital presses often require a protective coating on the material to secure inks. By laminating the self-wound films, converters can prevent ink and labels from burning and scratching. Meanwhile, QSPAC provides specialty lamination for custom flexo printing, as well as thermal transfer. Thermal transfer printable films are suitable for printing information and bar codes on labels.
Ritrama exhibited its roll label product portfolio named DTL, direct thermal linerless, a self-wound (linerless) thermal paper. DTL offers up to 40% more labels per roll, and a well-tested compatibility between adhesive and silicone ensures a smooth unwinding and the highest printing quality (bar code readability). The adhesive coating technology offers adhesive bleed free for easy handling and avoids label’s edge lifting.
German inkjet press maker mprint introduced its new generation of hybrid UV inkjet presses, the mlabel GEN3 in Brussels. Aside from a facelift from GEN2, Michael Morlock, owner and managing director of Germany-based mprint, pointed out several technological advances and additional modules. The base machine has a standard mechanical width of 13" (330 mm) but does not have to be outfitted with a print engine of the full print width from the beginning. This allows a technology implementer to start with a lower cost system and expand the print engine in the future, adding capacity without having to purchase a new machine.
This transfer station for digital metal foil from Kurz is a component of the new mlabel Generation 3 mprint printing system, which prints, finishes, punches and weeds labels. At the Kurz booth, the full range of functionality of the mlabel system was demonstrated, including the trouble-free integration of the digital metal transfer step into the digital printing process. A metalized variable design was applied to the labels in the DM-Liner station, and then overprinted in color and further processed in the inkjet printing system. The design of the label was selected to illustrate the creative possibilities of digital metal finishing, which can be used to metallize not only large areas but also filigree details. Fine cutouts and reverse types are also possible. High-edge definition transfer of the digital metal foil can be achieved even at fast digital printing speeds.
Combining industry strengths, four of Flint Group’s divisions (Flexographic Products, Narrow Web, Digital Solutions – Xeikon, and ThermoFlexX) showcased solutions that enable label printers and converters to better position themselves to address emerging market realities. “Flint Group is a one-stop shop for label converters, and during Labelexpo Europe we demonstrated that for the first time at one booth,” said Antoine Fady, CEO Flint Group. “This ranges from prepress and pre-production, through digital print and embellishments, converting and delivery.” With a product line ranging from nyloflex printing plates and equipment, rotec sleeves and adapters, Flint Group Flexographic Products displayed its comprehensive technology for the printing industry. New at the show was the nyloflex Xpress Thermal Processing System, with a smarter design that is easier to use. It delivers thermal platemaking with no compromise in quality. The nyloflex Xpress Thermal Processor on the show floor demonstrated its control and more consistent and stable plate production provided by the new equipment. At the heart of the processing system are the nyloflex Thermal Printing Plates, which serve a variety of application needs, including film; and the nyloflex Developer Roll, which is designed to be highly efficient and environmentally friendly.
UEI Group engraved die companies introduced at Labelexpo its NW SpeedChase NXT system. This new magnetic quick system is described as a game changer in making set-up and job changeover faster, simpler and more efficient. The system can accommodate any narrow web flatbed press. Press operators can now experience easier lock-up, quicker changeover, lower overall costs, increased production speeds, and overall improved efficiency with the system. Todd Rima, Universal Engraving’s VP of operations and sales, said, “Through the NW SpeedChase NXT system, job changeover can now be accomplished, on average, in as little as one minute. And since its unveiling, customers worldwide have immediately submitted orders post their best practice reviews and cost-saving analysis. The value customers see associated with the NW SpeedChase NXT system is tremendous.”
The NW SpeedChase NXT system from UEI is comprised of an NW SpeedChase NXT and an NW SpeedPlaten NXT that use a NW UniLock-Up Plate Ejector NXT box to quickly set-up, dismount and change the UniLock-Up die or counter force plates. The NW SpeedChase also has three-times the thermal conductivity than a traditional steel chase, Rima explained, which can result in faster production speeds. “Coupling the patented and highly-efficient UniLock-Up die plates with the NW SpeedChase system gives customers the best of all worlds,” he said.
Primera announced its FX500e Foil Imprinting System, a new and improved foil imprinter, which adds brilliant metallic highlights to pre-printed or blank labels. It’s a suitable accessory to Primera’s LX- and CX-Series color label printers and other laser- or inkjet-based label printers. As the imprinting process is digital, virtually any design elements can be added to the label, including borders, fonts, graphics and backgrounds. Metallic foils enhance product labels because a message of luxury and elegance is conveyed, which emphasizes the quality and value of each product. Metallic foils in gold, silver, blue and red are available, as well as various spot colors and clear foil. When printed onto pre-printed labels, clear foil not only adds a professional, glossy finish but also makes labels virtually waterproof and UV resistant, allowing longer exposure to natural and artificial light sources. Additionally, the clear film adds a high degree of resistance to chemicals, cleaning solutions and other harsh environmental factors.
SPGPrints introduced RotaMesh Glitter Screen, a nickel rotary screen suitable for applying glitter, lustre, shimmer and optically variable inks. Hank Guitjens, commercial manager label printing, SPGPrints, commented, “There has been tremendous innovation in reflective inks that create a range of exclusive effects, providing an effective way to differentiate brands and enhance shelf-impact. The new RotaMesh Glitter Screen provides a cost-effective and productive way to incorporate these effects seamlessly inline, alongside other processes, such as flexo, offset and gravure, and create a distinctive, appealing packaging presentation.” Particles for exclusive effects require wide diameters, typically of approximately 70µm, to enable reflectivity that makes their functionality possible. RotaMesh Glitter Screen features relatively large hole sizes to facilitate the smooth transfer to the substrate of these delicate particles, without risk of blockage, at high printing speeds.
Epson featured a new short-run label press, the SurePress L-4533 Series, launched to replace the existing L-4033 model. The new press offers a host of enhanced features, including improved productivity, reliability and reduced maintenance. The SurePress L-4533 Series is aimed at small to medium-sized label converters looking for digital printing capability, as well as commercial printers wishing to diversify into packaging and labeling. It has been designed to offer an easy-setup digital solution for producing short to medium-sized runs of commercial labels on a variety of substrates, allowing users to offer new services and quick turnaround for on-demand orders. The L-4533 Series provides improved image quality at higher print speeds, as well as faster variable data processing. The press is highly automated and easy to use with minimal maintenance. The L-4533 Series uses the SurePress AQ inkset with green and orange to provide a wide color gamut, and has white ink capability to expand its range of potential applications. The AQ inks are water-based and the press has no need for chemicals, plates or films, so the printing process is kinder to the environment.
Flexo Wash displayed a range of cleaning technologies from its portfolio, with a theme of “keeping it green,” by filtering the cleaning liquid for re-use. On display was the FW Handy 2x2, capable of cleaning four anilox rolls in 10-15 minutes. It was shown running with a water filtration system for reduced consumption. The FW 993 can clean nine anilox rolls simultaneously. For plate cleaning, the PW 45WR was demonstrated, which can clean 20m of plates per hour.A variety of parts and screen cleaning equipment was also highlighted. All parts washers can be custom-built to the specific press used by the customer.
Mouvent, a new joint venture from Bobst and Radex, made its trade show debut at Labelexpo, marking the first global reveal of the company’s label printing product range. Central to the innovation at Mouvent is a digital printing technology developed by Radex, which is based on the integrated Mouvent Cluster. Thanks to its intelligent and compact design, it will be the centerpiece of the new machines developed by Mouvent for a wide variety of markets such as textile, labels, corrugated board, flexible packaging, folding carton and more. The cluster design is the base building block for all Mouvent systems, current and in development. “Our radical new approach is to use a base cluster, which is arranged in a modular, scalable matrix instead of having different print bars for different applications and different print widths,” explained Piero Pierantozzi, co-founder of Mouvent. “The Mouvent Cluster is the key technology behind the Mouvent machines, resulting in high optical resolution for a crisp, colorful, very high printing quality, as well as a never-seen-before flexibility and possibilities in terms of machine development. Simplicity is our engineering philosophy.”
Siegwerk launched several ink solutions that were developed to help customers keep track of future-focused industry trends. The portfolio offers a complete range of migration optimized inks, gloss and matte varnishes, as well as metallic inks for all printing processes that are BPA-free and meet the needs of food and other sensitive packaging applications. “It’s always our goal to provide customers with the best and most efficient solution and support for their individual situation. We are always focused on specific needs and exactly analyze the requirements for every single customer,” explained Michael Mueller-Samson, head of BU Narrow Web EMEA at Siegwerk, adding, “That’s why platforms like Labelexpo are ideal touchpoints for us to share ideas and discuss the newest challenges and requirements with our customers and other industry experts.” Siegwerk’s newest developed ink series for UV flexo printing is called Sicura Nutriflex PRO. It offers highly pigmented colors that are HD-certified while being suitable for all food and pharma-related applications.
Sun Chemical presented its latest products ideal for digitally printed packaging for the label, narrow web and packaging sectors. Designed to provide the finest and most advanced coating solutions for digital package printing, SunEvo Digital Coatings allow for a collaborative initiative in the supply chain, providing a link between the substrate, press and ink. This is intended to provide converters with technically advanced products that are tailored to their requirements and that fit within industry standards. Suitable for labeling, flexible packaging, folding carton or corrugated printing, SunEvo Digital Coatings are structured around various technological platforms that work with numerous digital printing techniques, including electrophotography (EP), liquid electrophotography (LEP), water-based inkjet systems and energy curable (EC) inkjet systems.
Screen unveiled two new UV inkjet label presses, expanding into food packaging while further strengthening its position within the digital label press sector. The new Screen Truepress Jet L350UV+LM brings “unrivaled” levels of functionality to food packaging label production, according to Screen. As well as using newly developed low migration inks that offer enhanced safety, the press includes a nitrogen purge mechanism for accelerating the curing of UV inks, further preventing ink migration and UV odor. The new Screen Truepress L350UV+LM press pushes the envelope in terms of productivity, sharing a host of fresh features with the L350UV+ press, which was developed by Screen for high-end, high-speed label production. The L350UV+ system offers excellent productivity, substrate compatibility, color reproduction, operability and other advanced features that provide a significant edge over conventional technologies in a wide range of fields. Both new Screen presses deliver print speeds of up to 60 m/m and enable the reproduction of a wider color gamut by adding support for a special orange ink to conventional CMYK and white inks. Each system’s transfer section can also be equipped with an optional chill roller for cooling thin substrates that are particularly susceptible to the heat generated by the UV lamp.
Taghleef Industries (Ti) displayed its selection of BOPP films, including its Specialty Label Films range, available for PSL facestock applications, as well as overlaminations and even IML (in-mold label) and WAL (wraparound) roll-fed labels. Each film is designed according to specific applications, for either overlamination or primary print substrate, and are suitable for gravure, flexo, offset, UV and in some cases digital printing. The films offer special finishes, which capture consumer attention. This includes extra matte finish SoFT TOUcH with tactile properties, which creates a smooth, soft effect to transmit a luxurious sensation; anti-scratch films with gloss, matte and silky-matte finishes to ensure scuff and abrasion resistance; anti-bacterial films to provide an extra layer of protection for hygiene, personal care and infant nutrition products by killing 99.9% of bacteria that come into contact with the surface.
Making its debut in Europe, Rotoflex showed its HSI finishing system with a horizontal design that is intended to bring many benefits to operators in comfort and efficiency. Designed for high volume label slitting, inspection and rewinding, the HSI is built with an extra-large inspection table, 37" (94 mm) high editing area and an easily accessible slitting module. The HSI showcased end-to-end servo control, vision inspection, its latest controls and reporting systems and running speeds reaching 1,000 fpm (305 m/m). Known for a high level of accuracy in demanding production environments, the servo-driven VSI is the Rotoflex flagship slitter/rewinder for traditional roll-to-roll label inspection and finishing. Highlighted features shown at Labelexpo Europe included a small footprint design to maximize production space, low working heights for efficient operator use, high-speed vision inspection, a web width of 330 mm, and ease of accessibility to the web path, maximizing setup and changeover efficiency.
Apex International featured a solution to “reinvent the anilox” in order to solve the UV ink spitting issue. UV inks are known to cause problems such as ink spitting due to their higher viscosity. By enhancing the very concept of anilox ink-to-plate transfer, Apex is providing a solution to prevent this problem from occurring. Apex uses a constant beam laser to create its patented GTT Open Slalom Ink Channel anilox geometry that lets the ink flow uniformly and calmly onto the plate. This not only prevents pin-holing, mottling, haloing or dot gain from occuring in print but also makes GTT a guaranteed anilox solution against ink spitting. With the Internet of Things triggering the next industrial revolution by connecting machines, software and systems, Apex is developing “Smart Aniloxes” – rolls will be able to automatically share status information with intelligent systems.
Zanders showed off its Chromolux label range with an enticing sample box: “Label’s Secret,” which was designed to reveal the secret to perfect labels. Thirty Chromolux labels of different prints and high-quality finishes invited visitors to discover the success factors for successful labels – from smoothness to mother-of-pearl effects to shining, aluminum imprints. The “Label’s Secret” boxes showed how labels set the scene for every product with charisma, brilliance and variety. Alongside Chromolux, Zanders presented further label families in Zanlabel gloss and Zanlabel touch in Brussels, which secure excellent printing results. Zanders provided demonstrations of Chromolux effects at its booth daily. Plus, visitors received a piccolo with freshly printed, individualized labels.
Zeller+Gmelin showed several newly developed ink systems at Labelexpo Europe. One focus was directed at the growing low migration segment. In light of the ongoing tightening of legal requirements, the choice of suitable printing inks and varnish systems is becoming more and more important in order to be able to produce legally-compliant food packaging and labels. By using new raw materials and technology, Zeller+Gmelin has developed the latest generation of FCM UV-flexographic printing inks, which offer a higher level of security in terms of migration and feature a low odor. The Uvaflex-FCM-Y81 series achieves a significant reduction of substances critical to migration. Primarily, the use of special multi-functional initiators with a comparatively high molecular weight of approximately 1000 Dalton considerably minimizes the risk of migration.
At Labelexpo, Doug Edwards, CEO of Xaar, a developer of industrial inkjet technology, was on hand to discuss Xaar’s new Laydown Technology, which is now available for printing a range of textured effects on labels, folding cartons and other products. Such high-build, textured effects (also called tactile or dimensional effects) can be used to significantly enhance the shelf appeal of products and ensure that they stand out when on display. In addition, further highlighting the company’s continuing innovation, Edwards announced the extension of its Xaar 2001+ high performance printhead family to include UV applications for printing labels and cartons.
PPG used the event to showcase its portfolio of durable Teslin labelstock for packaging specialists and label converters. Durable, secure and easy to print, Teslin labelstock ensures printed data remains on labels through demanding use and extreme environmental exposure. Due to its reliability, the labelstock is used extensively in security, medical, food and beverage applications. It is also used in the chemicals industry for labels that are compliant with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals and British Standard 5609 (BS 5609). Teslin labelstock is a composite material that delivers a combination of benefits that differentiate it from traditional synthetics. PPG demonstrated this performance at its booth, compared to other synthetic labelstocks, with attendees seeing side-by-side results from abrasion, chemical and static comparison testing.
Alphasonics presented a number of new developments at this year’s show. Aimed entirely at the concept of “Control,” Alphasonics further enhanced its range of equipment along with developing various add-ons and optional extras, which give the end user a much tighter grip on the cleaning process. Christopher Jones, marketing manager, explained, “We as an industry know the importance of the anilox roll in the flexographic process. As a crucial part of the process it is an absolute necessity to ensure it is in the best condition at all times, and to us that doesn’t just mean cleaning – it’s about keeping control of it. That’s been at the heart at how we’ve looked to develop the kit over the past several years with the belief that we can give 100% volume and therefore, complete control over the press and ultimately, the printed output.” The company’s latest developments include current monitoring systems, automatic roll reversal for improved cleaning, storage and racking systems and automatic chemical dilution. In addition, Alphasonics introduced a chemical measurement system that gives the user an accurate indication of the condition of the system’s fluid and when it requires changing. The aim of this is to allow the customer to get a handle of their consumable costs and to also ensure they are getting the very best from the system.
API launched its new and improved TA+ cold foil as it continues to focus on delivering cutting-edge brand enhancement products for the labels and packaging industry. Visitors to the company’s were able to discover how the TA+ cold foil, API’s most advanced cold foil to date, offers pack designers and printers exceptionally fine detail and the capability to cover large solid areas, as well as outstanding over-printability, meaning there is no limit to the range of colors and effects they can produce. The new generation of API’s cold foil range, the TA+ cold foil is designed for sectors whose products require filmic labels such as personal care; drinks, including wines, beers and spirits; home and household care; and some industrial applications.
Maxcess announced the release of two new Fife sensors at Labelexpo. The show also featured new products from Webex, Tidland and Magpowr. “With the release of the SE-26B Line Guide Sensor and four additional DSE Digital Sensors, we are entering a new era of sensing technology by incorporating LED displays, LED light sources and data information from the sensor itself,” said Shomari Head, global product manager of Fife Guiding. “In addition, the digital connection between our advanced D-MAXE Controller and the DSE sensors allows for automatic setup and opens the possibility of adding additional functions such as contamination alarms and more.” The new DSE Digital Sensors feature a built-in LED display, which shows web position, making setup easier and faster. The SE-26B uses an LED light source, resulting in 100,000 lifetime hours.
Eaglewood Technologies’ unveiling of the Laserlox Mini took place at Labelexpo Europe. The Laserlox Systems are intelligent, environmentally safe and an effective way of maintaining anilox inventory. The advanced laser technology is proven and safe with cutting-edge software to easily clean inks and coatings of all types. According to the company, this technology has been proven in the packaging market and is now available for label printers. Eaglewood showed the technology at its booth with its partners, Sitexco.
Press manufacturer Edale revealed the FL3, which centers on a drastic reduction in operator setup, allowing for a consistent and repeatable product to be created. James Boughton, managing director at Edale, stated, “One of the main concerns raised to us as a supplier to the label industry is the scarcity of new talented printers coming through. We made a decision a few years back to use this as a basis for our ‘Innovate not complicate’ design philosophy and came to the conclusion that by reducing operator input, our customers would have control on quality and waste, no matter who the operator is.” The 6-color FL3 featured all of Edale’s latest features and the live demonstration gave the audience insight into what can be achieved with automation and, in some cases, autonomous operation.
Visitors to Ricoh’s Labelexpo Europe booth had the opportunity to see how metallic effects can help printers and converters target growth market segments, including labels, greeting cards, book covers, brochures, packaging and gift vouchers. Partnering with European paper and film coating specialist MDV Group, Ricoh highlighted the capabilities of the fifth unit on the Ricoh Pro C7100X digital color sheetfed press. Application samples included labels, with silver as well as gold effects, and the brand new Neon Pink toner. These products were shown on a range of media including synthetics. Erwin Busselot, business innovations and solutions director, commercial and industrial printing, Ricoh Europe, said,“The ability to produce predictable high-quality metallic print will allow print service providers to expand their production portfolios and offer a greater array of creative and eye-catching results.”
Mühlbauer featured RFID Personalization on the PL Light machine along with the RFID converting line CL Light. With the Personalization Lines, Mühlbauer follows the increasing demand for RFID and NFC products that include special printed features, serialization printing and custom encoding. The PL Light thereby constitutes an entry-level RFID personalization system that is designed for low to medium volumes. A throughput of up to 40,000 UPH can be achieved. The process includes UHF chip encoding, as well as printing variable data for graphical personalization. Both reel-to-reel and ticket-to-ticket usage is possible. With its modular design, other processes can be integrated on request. Mühlbauer said its small footprint and the high print resolution printer make the PL Light an ideal solution for printers.
Sappi presented two new facestock label papers in the form of Parade Face Stock C1S and Parade Face Stock Vellum. They are approved for direct contact with food and conform to DIN EN 71 for toy safety. The range of applications for these self-adhesive label papers include decorative labels for tins, glass containers, single-use and multi-use bottles and stickers or price labels (such as those found in the fruit and vegetable aisle) and more. Thanks to their excellent surface properties, these label papers ensure a brilliant appearance and excellent print results. Single-side-coated Semi-Gloss-Paper Parade Face Stock C1S can be processed with all standard printing processes, while Parade Face Stock Vellum meets the requirements for a high-quality result in thermal transfer printing. Parade Face Stock C1S is available in a weight of 80 g/m2, and Parade Face Stock Vellum in grammages of 70 and 80 g/m2.
MacDermid Graphics Solutions showcased its comprehensive range of platemaking solutions. The enhanced package of LUX ITP M and LAVA NW is specifically designed to meet the needs of label and narrow web printers. The combination of LUX ITP M and LAVA NW provides a medium durometer plate for smaller plate cylinders and a smaller overall footprint. The LAVA NW is specifically designed for narrow web applications with a sleek and efficient design and small overall footprint, which makes it ideal for label printing applications. LUX ITP M is specifically designed for tags and labels, paperstocks, and other applications where a combination of high durability and excellent ink laydown is required.
BST eltromat unveiled its new ekr commander for the its ekr 500 digital controller. The ekr now comes with a touchscreen and features intuitive operation. BST eltromat also displayed how its flexibly configurable web guiding systems, CompactGuide and EcoGuide, enable label manufacturers to guide their materials through their production machines with complete accuracy. With BST’s web monitoring solutions, label manufacturers can be certain that they are supplying labels that meet their customers’ quality requirements. Also, BST demonstrated its POWERScope 5000 web monitoring system in action on a rewinder. The SHARK 4000 LEX 100% inspection system and the TubeScan eagle view developed by Nyquist Systems, a BST eltromat cooperation partner, were exhibited on the same rewinder.
The most innovative, creative and commercially successful products and technologies from the label and package printing industry were rewarded at the Label Industry Global Awards 2017. The people behind the some of the most important innovations introduced over the past 12 months were presented with their trophies in front of over 500 industry peers at a gala dinner on September 25 as part Labelexpo Europe in Brussels.
The sellout award ceremony included some of the biggest names from the international label community, as those working behind the scenes in this vibrant sector took the limelight in recognition of their hard work. Joining PEIAC’s Professor Tan Junqiao, who was earlier announced as the winner of the prestigious R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award, were Herma, AIM and ebeam Technologies, who officially announced as the winners of this year’s other categories.
The R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Avery Dennison, was given to Professor Tan, the founder and honorary chairman of the China Label Sub Association of the Printing Equipment Industries Association of China (PEIAC). His passion and dedication over many years in serving and promoting the development of a modern label printing industry in China have led to him being widely acclaimed as a true pioneer and founding father of the Chinese label industry. Professor Tan joins fellow distinguished winners, including Tomas Rink of Ritrama, Helmut Schreiner, Nilpeter’s Lars Eriksen and Kurt Walker of FINAT.
The Award for Innovation (for companies with more than 300 employees), sponsored by Flint Group Narrow Web, was presented to Herma GmbH for its superTack (63Vst). The judges singled out the manufacturer of self-adhesive label application systems, saying that product innovation has enabled Herma to create the world’s first resin-free adhesive for labels that requires an extremely strong initial tack, making the adhesive an ideal solution for films, as well as moist, fatty, dirty or dusty surfaces, and extending it beyond the food sector. By dispensing with resin, Herma’s adhesive reaches the approval for dry, moist and fatty foods and comes closer to the zero migration benchmark.
The Award for Innovation (for companies with up to 300 employees), also sponsored by Flint Group Narrow Web, went to AIM, the trade association for the automatic identification industry. For nearly half a century, AIM has provided unbiased information, educational resources and standards to providers and users of these technologies. AIM took the accolade for its Ultracode, which is a process innovation that enables the automatic capture of data by any digital color camera or smartphone. The process utilizes the first international standard 2D color bar code – Ultracode – which is printable by any RGB or CMYK process color, inkjet or toner technology. The code, together with advanced data compaction schemes and URLs, encodes data in less than half the area of a QR code using the same modular size.
ebeam Technologies took the Award for Sustainability for its compact curing unit. ebeam Technologies designs, manufactures and integrates electron beam (EB) technology solutions. The award was given for the company’s development of a compact electron beam curing system for narrow web presses, which now makes low-energy, photoinitiator-free, curing accessible for label and package printing production. Using ½ to 1/10 of the energy required by heat, steam, chemical, microwave or UV processes, ebeam systems are compact, vacuum-sealed, zero maintenance and have high longevity.
Mike Fairley, chair of the judges and known as a “label industry guru,” commented, “It is through the sheer determination and tenacity of our many colleagues that our industry has continued to push the boundaries of excellence and technology to meet and exceed the challenges that we all face. Our annual awards highlight these companies and individuals and share first class examples of the successes that have been achieved in just the past twelve months.
“I, on behalf of the judging panel, would like to commend and congratulate our finalists and winners and thank them for giving us an excellent showcase of their spirit and commitment to the world of label printing. Their developments and innovations are helping extend the life of our wider industry, and I hope their success stories help inspire others to push ahead with our industry’s continued development and give us extra drive for improvement in the future.”