Just a month after after Labelexpo in Brussels, which Gallus says set an all-time record for deals closed, Asia Pacific trade journalists had an opportunity to visit the factory in St Gallen to gain a detailed perspective on where the company is headed. Heidelberg and Gallus have established a new Print Media Centre at St Gallen that opened in September 2107, just prior to the Labelexpo in Brussels. The PMC Label is dedicated to label printing and converting developments where demonstrations, trials and training take place for customers around the world.
On our visit to St Gallen in the beginning of November, we learned that the RCS and ECS series label presses, which enjoy a following among leading Gallus customers, have both been upgraded. The ECS 340 for instance has more than 430 installations worldwide with a particularly strong footprint in South Asia with 30 presses including 27 ECS 340 presses in India and 3 in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. than 15 presses. More expensive than the Gallus EM280 entry-level presses, the ECS presses are generally purchased with a rotary screen unit by label printers who already have several narrow web flexo presses in their plants.
However, since the ECS press is seen as a differentiator in the market, it is increasingly chosen as the first flexo press by established label printers who were earlier using other technologies. Its short web path allows for better registration and printing on many kinds of substrates including the overall design for complex die-cutting at full speeds on diverse materials such as paper, PE, PP and even tube laminates. The Gallus ECS 340 has also been enhanced with a new UV flexographic printing unit.
The Gallus RCS 430 press has been setting the benchmark in terms of print quality, productivity and flexibility in narrow-web label printing for over ten years with its modular design, process flexibility and high level of automation. For the first time since its market launch, the Gallus RCS is being completely revamped with a state-of-the-art and future-ready control platform to take advantage of new technology developments that are becoming available, including a powerful new UV-curing solution for varnishing.
Labelfire system fine tuned
The Gallus Labelfire first launched at Labelexpo 2015 was shown at Labelexpo Europe 2017 with the new Gallus digital enhancement (varnishing) unit. The modular digital converting system uses a Fuji Samba UV-inkjet printing module integrated into an ECS 340 Gallus machine platform, combining digital print with the benefits of conventional printing and converting in line. The joint development of Steinemann Technology, Gallus and Schmid Rhyner, the digital enhancement unit, enables the combined application of gloss and matte spot coatings and tactile relief effects in a single pass. At 600 x 600 dpi, coating lay downs of up to 100 gsm can be produced.
The Fuji Samba inkjet arrays of the Gallus Labelfire UV digital label press at the PMC Labels in St Gallen
Developed by Fujifilm, the uniquely shaped Samba inkjet print-head supports seamless head stitching which results in a smooth print across the entire web. As could be seen again at the PMC Label demonstrations, the native resolution of 1200 dpi and the maximum speed of 50 meters a minute is capable of producing high-quality print with coating textures, variable information and security together with short-run production efficiency.
We learned that extensive work has gone into refining the output of the Labelfire 340 over the past two years by developing new algorithms that are able to eliminate any inkjet density problems across the web or banding or white lines caused by nozzle dysfunctions. The new software solution for this is being retrofitted across all the Labelfire presses installed in the market. The implication is that with already about 20 Labelfire digital presses at leading label printers, Gallus is delivering and fully supporting what it promised: a high quality and industrially robust modular label system
The Labelfire’s user-friendly HMI touch panel controls conventional and digital modules and the whole system is integrated into Heidelberg’s print media workflow Prinect, offering the possibility of running a Smart Print Shop. Additionally, the newly released screen printing unit for upstream or downstream printing enables the Labelfire to print highly opaque white on transparent foil before or after digital printing.
Gallus Labelmaster – more flexibility
What makes the Gallus Labelmaster stand out can be defined by 4 principles: flexibility, automation, speed and costs. With the ability to integrate a variety of processes, Gallus claims that the Labelmaster is the industry’s first customizable and configurable system designed to meet exact requirements and business models. It offers various finishing and printing units that can be exchanged quickly and easily at any machine position.
The Labelmaster modular system with each module comprising two printing units is available in three different versions and can be configured to include as much or as little automation as necessary: the basic model covers all essential label printing standards; the Labelmaster Plus provides significantly enhanced flexibility to cover many applications in the label industry and the premium model; the Labelmaster Advanced can practically meet any requirement and includes a high level of automation.
All the Labelmaster presses offer a short web path of 1.4 meters between printing units and a maximum printing speed of 200 meters a minute. The lightweight aluminum printing cylinders are exchangeable in a few quick steps on the newly designed flexographic printing units driven by two servomotors. An optimized ink chamber for the doctor blade uses just 250 grams of ink. The consumption of ink is reduced thanks to a minimization of ink spitting and foaming and therefore lowers costs.
The Labelmaster’s newly developed rotary screen-printing unit offers high-end finishing options including cold foil and other embellishing processes. The over new modular design concept is claimed to deliver extremely stable and high register accuracy at any speed. Although hugely flexible in the choice of processes and options, and ready for future options, customers have to define one of the three Labelmaster platforms and the machine configuration at the time of purchase. Plus and Advanced modules may be combined to some extent and in the next 12 months a gravure option will become available too. “Besides the Gallus RCS 430, the Gallus labelpress with the highest degree of automation and the digital labelpress Gallus Labelfire, in the future the Gallus Labelmaster will be the main platform for Gallus,” we were told by product manager Claudio Nagel St. Gallen. As we have written earlier in our Labelexpo coverage, the first order for a Labelmaster Advanced press for the Indian market was signed at Labelexpo Brussels by ITW-Wintek. The press is expected to be installed by March 2018.