Discussing the future of digital finishing with Grafotronic

Dominik Heiniger, managing director at Graficon Maschinenbau AG with Håkan Sundqvist, managing director at Grafotronic in Warsaw, Poland (Source: Rosina Obermayer)

Grafotronic has expanded its manufacturing facility in Warsaw, Poland by organizing an open house event in May 2018. On this occasion managing director Håkan Sundqvist talked to NarrowWebTech about the new demo centre, the possibilities of modern digital finishing and laser die-cutting as niche technology.

Conducted by Rosina Obermayer

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What is the most current or relevant trend in the market for label printing and converting?

Håkan Sundqvist: We are very focused on digital finishing, to be precise the finishing of digitally printed labels. We have worked together with all the relevant manufacturers of digital printing machines. At the latest open house event, for example, the most dominant players such as HP, Xeikon or Domino have visited us in Warsaw.

Why is digital finishing so in demand at the moment?

Håkan Sundqvist There is a technology change in the industry. The industry is going from traditional printing methods like flexo, offset or letterpress printing to digital printing. New types of machines are required in order to finish the rolls of digitally printed products.

Where do you see the future regarding inspection?

Håkan Sundqvist: I think this is more and more important to secure quality and also to guarantee the same quality and density of colours and shapes over time. For many brand owners it is important to guarantee exactly the same quality all over the world.

And what about laser die-cutting?

Håkan Sundqvist: Although laser die-cutting is a niche it is, in particular, a part of digital finishing and therefore a part of the label industry. It think it has a great future because it fits well together with the flexibility of digital printing and finishing, but it is still only a small fraction of the total market.

Why do you think it is still a niche when it has such a great future?  

Håkan Sundqvist: This is because laser die-cutting has its limitations. The modern semi-rotary die-cutting units are improving, so it can today change quickly from one job to another. Also the flexible die-cutter manufacturers are not sleeping. Today you can order a flexible die and get it tomorrow everywhere in Europe, whilst the price is going down. I think, laser die-cutting is an interesting niche which will grow, but it will not be the dominating one for the die-cutting of labels in the near future.

What was the highlight of your latest Open House at your manufacturing plant in May in Poland?

Håkan Sundqvist: The highlight of this event was our new customer demo centre. Customers can now see our equipment on display and do test runs. We want to show the world that they are always welcome and we have equipment to show on the floor at all times.

What will you show at Labelexpo Americas 2018?

Håkan Sundqvist: In the USA we will not only launch some new products. As our lines are built fully modular we are developing new modules which fit with our machine concept. Existing customers will be able to install new technologies to their existing lines. We aim to roll up for example screen printing, hot-foil embossing and other technologies this year. [Editorial comment: take also a look in this post]

What do you expect for the next two years?

Håkan Sundqvist: Within the next two years we will have a complete programme including all printing processes within our machine concept such as laser die-cutting, super high-speed die-cutting, very short set-up times. We are also part of the automation arena of Labelexpo – buzzword “Internet of Things” (IoT). I think it really means something in our industry. It is all about being able to change from one job to the next, automatically in a very short period of time. This will probably be the biggest difference between Labelexpo Europe 2017 and 2019 – automation! In 2019, in my opinion, automation will be overall more visible to the visitors, through demonstrations, new lines and for sure, the automation arena.

Thank you very much for this interview!

[Editorial comment: This interview was first published in NarrowWebTech print issue 3-2018, available in our online shop!]

The modular digital finishing line Grafotronic DCL2 (Source: Rosina Obermayer)

Background: Grafotronic – Manufacturing side in Poland

About 100 visitors on three days visited the factory with about 2500 m2in Warsaw at the latest open house event earlier this year. Grafotronic demonstrated its range of converting lines at the new demo area (about 300 m”) including:

  • Gigafast line with up to 160 m/mi (524 fpm) with UV varnish, semi rotary die-cutting, wifi slitting automatic knife positioning and Grafotronic non-stop rewinding solution (world premiere)
  • New SCF line, a “high end super compact digital finishing machine”, which is able to varnish, laminate, die-cut and slit
  • DCL² digital finishing line: fully modular converting
  • CF² digital finishing: compact solution with up to 70 m/min (229 fpm)

Visitors could also see:

  • New automation features
  • Inline digital finishing with integration of HP Indigo
  • HI2 servo inspection machines with 100% camera systems
  • Blank label machines with frond-load quick change system of magnetic cylinders

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