At Labelexpo in Brussels, Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hunsdorfer spoke of the successes and innovations in label press manufacturing that Gallus has brought to the event. The success of ECS has taken its footprint to more than 500 units globally. The re-integration of Gallus within the Heidelberg production and servicing plants has moved the manufacturing of the flexo units of the benchmark RCS platform to Heidelberg’s main Wiesloch-Waldorf plant.
In an indication of the new ways the company is looking at the print equipment business, Hunsdorfer mentioned that Heidelberg could offer a subscription model where the printer pays on the basis of output, rather than buying the equipment outright. “The organization is about to re-invent itself again,” he said, adding that the company is in a positive growth mode, and “looking forward to becoming the lighthouse of the industry again.”
Labelfire and new digital coating module
Nine customers have already installed 15 Labelfire digital presses, which according to Gallus CEO Klaus Bachstein is in alignment with the roll-out plan. New product announcements included the digital enhancement module, which is being shown as a prototype on the Labelfire digital press line for varnishing at 600 x 600 resolution in coating volumes up to 100 gsm.
The digital enhancement modular option will also be configured on Gallus flexo label presses, such as the ECS 340 and Labelmaster platforms. Although begun with matt, gloss and tactile spot coat varnishing, other types of digital enhancements can also be foreseen. The joint development with Swiss companies Steinemann, which makes coaters and laminators, and Schmid Rhyner, which makes extremely high quality coatings, adds considerable pedigree to the inkjet digital embellishment unit.
Gallus Screeny and Phoenix UV LED platesetter
The newest version of the Gallus rotary screen module known as the Screeny is capable of being run at full flexo press speeds in the region of 100 meters a minute. Heidelberg has also brought a new Phoenix UV LED direct platesetter for the exposure of screen, flexo, offset and letterpress image carriers. The key improvements will come from the flexibility in choice of process and in the higher quality of rotary screen printing without any sacrifice in press speeds.
Just as Gallus introduced the ECS as its advanced short path and high precision platform a decade ago, in the past year the company first introduced the Labelmaster at its open house in St. Gallen and at Labelexpo it has brought both the Labelmaster and the Labelmaster Advanced presses for running live and demonstrating their quick changeover, accuracy and economy of waste. Clearly, the company sees these as the workhorse platforms of the future with the implied convergence of three interesting ideas: flexibility in configuration, upgradeability in the future, and affordability.
Labelmaster modules consist of two printing units each and are available as Basic, Plus and Advanced variants. The Basic is an up-to-date essential platform, the Plus is a premium press which one presumes can handle thin and extensible substrates, while the Advanced has all the bells and whistles and being automation friendly is being shown with a multi-web capability at the show, which means that a converter can run up to three webs through the whole press to produce multi-layer labels.
The Labelmaster platform has a short web path of 1.4 meters between units and a maximum speed of 200 meters a minute with register accuracy claimed to be uniform at any speed from setup to acceleration on the straights. The flexo units have light-weight aluminum print cylinders for ease of change and the optimized ink chamber for the doctor blade requires just 250 grams of ink while minimizing ink spitting and foaming according to the company. Both the digital varnish unit and the high-speed Screeny are options that can be added.
The price performance of the Labelmaster platform and even the Labelfire digital press were mentioned more than once at the Heidelberg Gallus stand at Labelexpo, with several references to the ‘lowest cost per label.’ The Heidelberg and Gallus teams for Asia and India seem quite ready to justify this calculation in these price-sensitive emerging and fast growing markets.