A survey of the die-cutting of labels: Part 1 with AB Graphic
"As label finishing technology improves with higher levels of productivity and the demand for more complex labels increases, die-cutting technology is presented with new challenges." - Tony Bell, Sales Director at AB Graphic (Source: ABG International)
In this interview series a range of companies names the current challenges for the die-cutting of labels, the role of digitization in this regard and how laser die-cutting fits into this industry. Read what Tony Bell, Sales Director at AB Graphic International, comments on the recent development as well the future of the die-cutting segment. by Rosina Obermayer
Tony Bell, Sales Director at AB Graphic
What are the current challenges for the die-cutting of labels?
Tony Bell: As label finishing technology improves with higher levels of productivity and the demand for more complex labels increases, die-cutting technology is presented with new challenges.
Higher speeds put pressure on running and stripping the matrix. Marking/cutting too deep into the liner must be avoided to ensure the liner doesn’t snap during the label application stage. Thinner liners (13micron or less), more demanding substrates and special shapes all fall into this category.
Multi-layer labels are now a necessity on some products due to legislation requirements, which challenge the limited cut level on a flexible rotary die.
We are living in a digitized production world, in your opinion, which system is the most suitable for the modern single-pass label printing (rotary/laser) process?
Tony Bell: Both have a place in today’s world. Laser suits short to medium run b2c markets, e.g. those selling online stickers direct to consumers, and rotary suits medium to long run b2b. To completely maximise production, from print to finishing, label producers can also opt for an inline finishing machine which runs directly from the press onto the finishing equipment, thus saving on expensive work in progress areas.
In general: what are your preferences for certain applications? (Semi) rotary die-cutting or laser die-cutting?
Tony Bell: This depends upon the shape, substrate and application of the label and how many you need to produce. For short run b2c and b2b labels, laser cutting is the most sensible option as it negates the need to wait for dies to be ordered and delivered, and the need for storage. For longer run b2b jobs, certainly in particular substrates, there will always be a need for conventional die-cutting.
Laser die-cutting is a rather new technology: where do you see the opportunities and limitations of this process?
Tony Bell: We have been developing laser technology for over 18 years. Using bespoke software, the ABG Digilase can download all cut parameters straight onto the machine, enabling jobs to be turned around straight away.
The parameters are also stored for future use and the machine sends JMF messages back to the MIS for production statistics. B2C and short run B2B labels are the most obvious choice for this technology, by being able to cut exacting nonstandard shapes. The only label substrates which can’t be cut on a laser are pure PE and PVC.