Digital takes on flexo at Labelexpo Europe 2022 – Part 2

The Labelexpo Europe show in April 2022 represents a major milestone for digital press technology.

Labelexpo Europe 2022 will held in April 2022. photo Labelexpo

Labelexpo Europe 2022 will see the European launch by Mark Andy of its Digital Series iQ hybrid press powered by Domino. The iQ press combines units from a Mark Andy 13in Evolution series press with a Domino N601i UV inkjet engine and is targeted in particular at replacing legacy entry level flexo presses for smaller and mid-sized label converting operations.

Mark Andy also shows its flagship Digital Series HD (DSHD) press, based around the proven Performance Series P7 full servo platform with fully integrated UV inkjet engine. The DSHD press prints with a resolution claimed to match high-definition flexo at speeds up to 73m/min (240 ft/min).

Both the Mark Andy DSHD and Digital Series iQ are inkjet digital hybrid presses capable of printing with extended color gamut, 6-color process, and opaque white. Both machines are designed with fast-change flexographic features for top coating, lamination, foil stamping, and specialty color printing and product decoration, along with Mark Andy’s high-speed semi-rotary die cutting system.

Comments Tom Cavalco, managing director Mark Andy Europe, ‘Since its launch last year in the Americas, Digital Series iQ has been a fast seller, easily integrated by label converters. We are excited to showcase the machine here, for the first time in Europe, on our booth at Labelexpo, and looking forward to seeing friends old and new at this year’s event.’

Konica Minolta shows its full range of equipment for the label market at the show. This will include an AccurioLabel230 digital press in-line with a DC330MINI converting unit with a new compact buffer and flexo unit.

The company also demonstrates the MGI JETvarnish 3D Web digital embellishment system, designed for in-line 2D and 3D spot UV coating, embossed hot-foiling, die-cutting and slitting, and the Inkjet Module IIJ, including new retrofit options and configurations.

For label converters looking to diversify into wide-format work, Konica Minolta shows its PKG-675i printer designed for customized short-run box and display printing.

The company also promises a major new technology at the show, so watch this space for more details. Carsten Bamberg, business development manager, Professional Printing Group, Konica Minolta Europe, says the company remains fully committed to the label market seven years after moving across from the commercial print sector.

‘Label, packaging and embellishment markets will continue to be as vibrant as ever. The potential to push boundaries, enter new markets and seize opportunities to create unique customer experiences has never been more exciting.’

Automation and a continued trend towards digitization are other trends identified by Bamberg, ‘Demands will continue to increase for complete start-to-finish manufacturing process with more all-in-one solutions, as well as a need for production devices that need fewer and less-skilled operators. One specific growth trend includes enhanced finishing such as embellishment, increased automation, online print purchasing and webshops, plus, of course, the unstoppable analogue to digital transition.’

Canon is a relatively recent entry to the narrow web market and aims to make a major impact at Labelexpo Europe 2022 with two LabelStream 4000 UV inkjet presses on its stand –  one in a hybrid configuration and one digital-only. The press prints at 75m/min on a 410 mm print width using Xaar 2001 inkjet heads. The hybrid format LabelStream 4000 incorporates a 6-color print engine (WCMYKO) with one flexo station before and one after the digital unit, along with cold foil unit, semi-rotary die cutter and slitter, all inline.

The LabelStream 4000 has been awarded Pantone Capable certification, meaning it can cover over 81% of the Pantone range using a 5-color CMYKO ink set  and adopting a Delta E 2000 < 1.5. Applying a Delta E of 2 enables coverage of 96% of the Pantone book. The press has also been been certified to the Process Standard Digital (PSD) Print Check based on the Fogra 55 7-color reference gamut.

Epson launches the latest version of its established SurePress L-4733 water-base inkjet press. The 6-color Surepress L-4733A/AW uses new water-based inks with improved wettability to expand substrate and application versatility and new print modes for higher productivity and print quality. A focus on greater automation including a new head cleaning system which reduces maintenance activity and minimizes downtime.

The new inks are formulated and manufactured by Epson to ensure compliance with EU and FDA food and packaging regulations, making them suitable for a wide range of labeling applications including food, beverage, industrial, cosmetic, toiletries and pharmaceuticals.

Epson will also showcase its UV inkjet digital press technology and demonstrations with digital label finishing partners.

Afinia is looking to widen the options available for digital printing of flexible packaging with the commercial launch of its FP-230 press – seen at Labelexpo Europe 2019 in its prototype form. The FP-230 uses the company’s L901 Plus 1600dpi Memjet print engine to produce full-color prints on rolls up to 230mm wide with a maximum speed of 18 m/min. Variable data and color matching are handled by the optional Northstar RIP. The water-based inks have been approved for food packaging when combined with in-line cold lamination, with the finished roll trimmed using the two rotary knives.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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