It’s immediately obvious that, whereas digital printing was limited to just one or two halls at the last Labelexpo, for this show there are digital devices liberally sprinkled throughout the exhibition. In part this is because there are a number of new digital label presses being launched, but mainly it’s due to the wider adoption of hybrid solutions. Most vendors that I spoke to said this was driven by brands demanding shorter lead times, coupled with just-in-time manufacturing.
Thus Gallus launched its DCS340, a hybrid printer that uses a narrow web flexo chassis for in-line varnishing and diecutting. Klaus Bachstein, CEO of Gallus, claimed that despite the Heidelberg takeover “Gallus is still Gallus. ”However, this is unquestionably a Heidelberg device, driven by a label version of Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow. The imaging comes from Fujifilm Samba heads, delivering a native resolution of 1,200 dpi, with Heidelberg supplying the UV inks.
Domino has also developed an integration module of its N610i inkjet press that can be added to existing machines. It was demonstrated at the show with an AB Graphics Digicon 3, which includes flexo, varnishing and diecutting. It’s a 7-color device capable of up to 75 mpm. Philip Easton, Domino’s UK managing director, says, “It’s completely modular so you can add flexo stations with embossing, laminating or whatever.” Easton adds that Brother, which recently acquired the company, has taken a hands-off approach.
From Durst we have an entry-level industrial printer, the Tau 330E. It’s based around the existingTau330,butmodifiedto reduce the cost of purchase and of servicing. There’s a choice of 200 mm and 330 mm widths, and with an optional white as well as the standard CMYK inks. There’s a highly pigmented ink set, that should cut ink consumption by up to 30%.
Xaar’s printbar – a complete solution
It’s based around the 1002 printheads and includes ink channels, electronics to drive the heads and workflow so that it can be easily added to a conventional press. It was shown on FFEI’s Graphium, a 7- color hybrid press, with the additional print bar module used to add white ink to create an 8-color printer.
Xeikon discussed an interesting concept that it calls Fusion, which includes the additional functions that you would expect of a hybrid press. It will be a modular machine so that features such as in-line cutting, varnishing or foiling can be slotted in as needed. But the key thing is that these are all digital rather than conventional modules. Wim Maes, CEO of Xeikon, believes that we’ll see more web to print in the label sector that will need a short-run digital production device. Xeikon also showed off its Cheetah digital label, now sadly given the much less interesting CX3 name. It’s a dry toner press and has excellent resolution at 1,200 x 3,600 dpi. It runs at 30 mpm, which is fast for a toner press but not as fast as some of the inkjet machines at the show.