Held every two years, the Labelexpo in Brussels opened with a confidence and upbeat tone missing from most print-related trade shows. With an increase in the number of exhibitors over the last event, the organizers predict that the modest but steady growth of visitors will continue this year too. The optimism comes from the high quality of visitors that the show attracts and from the technical improvements in the narrow web flexo presses and the collaborative tie-ups in several strategic areas and ultimately, the high number of readyfor-market developments of the digital presses from the traditional vendors.
The crowds actually seemed to grow toward the end of the day especially as it became time for beer. Not all the exhibitors could claim that the visitor numbers were spectacular, but looking at the paperwork still to be completed, they admitted that it had been a successful day in terms of business.
The morning started of with Heidelberg Gallus officially launching DCS340 8-color digital label press which provides, “an industrial solution with complete in-line decoration ,finishing and converting options. ”At the live demonstration for the press in the morning, the base color of a complicated, secure and chewing gum label was quickly changed. Runs of 500 metres are easily done with the highest quality using a version of Fujifilm’s 1200 x 1200 Samba ink jet heads with variable droplet sizes as low as 2picolitres. The 7-colorpluswhite engine is driven by the Heidelberg Multicolor fixed set of inks that will be supplied through Gallus and Heidelberg Saphira channels. The press is in Beta at two sites and is an on-time bringing to market of the machine shown at St Gallen at the first Gallus Innovation Days in September 2014.
There is obviously a better or more complete integration of the two organizations and for India and Asia, the good news is that Samir Patkar, erstwhile managing director of Gallus India, will now head the sales operations in much of Asia. According to Christoph Naier, Gallus sales manager, Patkar will continue to work out of India. At the Gallus stand, there are notable improvements in the print units on the company’s hot selling ECS presses and also on the wider workhorse RCS series.
In the meantime, the established and leading digital player is clearly flexing its muscles at the show. Alon Bar-Shany of HP luxuriates in the company’s achievements in the label and packaging industry while he speaks in more and more detail about the refinements that HP is incorporating into its digital solutions – from higher density white inks for flexible packaging to the Cerruti L20000 laminator built for the Indigo 20000, which customers are using for “their own products, that we could not have imagined,” says Bar-Shany. He shows samples of high-value printed balloons, of large in-mold labels and a variety of flexible film substrates printed on the Indigo 20000. As at all its recent show events, HP allows samples of its customers printed packaging products do most of the talking. The range and creativity of the digitally produced packaging at the HP stand is breathtaking.
Goss gets some traction in flexible packaging
The Goss Vpak variable sleeve offset flexible packaging press now has two or three customers in North America and the major recent development is the tie-up with Alwan color, which provides expertise to both Goss and to customers of the VPak of producing an extended gamut of print colors using a fixed 7-color set. Alwan’s Hi-Fi color has been extensively tested at Goss’s Packaging Technology Centre in Durham, New Hampshire, and is aimed at reducing the need for special spot colorinks.
We met up with David Muncaster, the director of EMEA business development for packaging at Goss International at Labelexpo, who told us that the Vpak press is already able to print flexible packaging as thin as 9 microns and that he expects the use of Alwan’s extended color gamut software and to bring customers considerable savings in ink changeovers and ink inventories. Mun caster said, “We are extremely committed to pushing the boundaries in printing and packaging and delighted to have partnered with Alwan, which will enable not only reduced time and material waste but will allow us to continue delivering market-leading quality, flexibility and control.”
Konica Minolta bizhub Press C71cf
Konica Minolta (KM) talked about its CMYK short-run label press which was first shown as a prototype at the Labelexpo here two years ago. It’s first customer, Litho Formas in Lisbon, is a label printer whose experience of a competitor’s label press motivated KM to pursue this development and Miguel Abranches Pinto of Litho Formas spoke of his company’s testing and use of this machine with great praise and confidence.
(We saw several other interesting devlopments on the first day and it looks like it is going to be a very good show. There are many Indian visitors and also, there is good representation on the exhibitor side. Nessan Cleary, Ron Augustin and I will bring you
complete coverage in the November issue of PSA.)