Gallus update: Innovations across all platforms

The Print Media Centre for Labels at St Gallen

The Fuji Samba inkjet arrays of the Gallus Labelfire UV digital label press at the PMC Labels in St Gallen

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.

GALLUS Labelmaster qualityOn 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

Claudio Nagel
Claudio Nagel, product manager, speaks about the Gallus Labelmaster at the PMC Label in St Gallen. Photo PSA

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.

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.

Gallus 4987
A unit of the new Gallus Labelmaster displayed at the company’s plant in St Gallen. Photo PSA

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.

Packaging South Asia — resilient, growing and impactful — daily, monthly — always responsive

The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

For responsible and sustainable packaging, with its attendant regulations and compliances, there is significant headroom to grow in India and the region. Our coverage includes the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and to waste collection, sorting, and recycling.

We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers. This is a large and complex canvas – the only thing that can work is your agile thinking and innovation together with our continuous learning and persistence.

The coming year looks to be an up year in this region, and this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing communication – in our rich and highly targeted business platform with human resources on the ground. Share your thoughts and plans to inspire and mobilize our editorial and advertising teams!

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.


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