A survey of the die-cutting of labels: Part 10 with Rotometrics
What are the current challenges for the die-cutting of labels? Which role does digitization have in this regard and how does laser die-cutting fits into today’s label industry? In part 10 of our die-cutting survey Keith Laakko from Rotometrics gives his point of view to these topics.
(conducted by Rosina Obermayer)
Vice President, Global Marketing and Business Development
- What are the current challenges for the die-cutting of labels?
Keith Laakko: Meeting tighter customer delivery requirements is an ongoing challenge for convertors. Label manufacturers face constant production compression. Set up time gets shorter and presses must run longer. Quick-change technology is key with machines trending to upgraded die and print stations to react quickly through job changes. Digital printing gains ground for quick and efficient changeover abilities.
- 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?
Keith Laakko: Laser cutting has seen many advancements, and we continue to watch the development of this technology and its application for the demands of the market.
Rotary remains the most suitable method of die-cutting labels. As materials change and become more synthetic based, laser struggles to keep up in both edge-cut quality and speed. Rotary die-cutting can most effectively manage the variables of the process. When considering run length and ramping to scale larger volume projects, rotary die-cutting offers greater versatility and more options than laser.
- In general: what are your preferences for certain applications? (Semi) rotary die-cutting or laser die-cutting?
Keith Laakko: A strength of laser cutting is the ability to cut small intricate shapes overcoming the limitations of rotary cutting for cavity shape or size. This is a relatively small niche market as very few label applications require such small, intricate shapes plus doing so adds significant time to the manufacturing process.
Given these two choices, the more effective solution for the larger percentage of label work would be semi-rotary die-cutting. Fast flexible die delivery and pricing levels make it quick and easy to produce customized label products.
- Laser die-cutting is a rather new technology: where do you see the opportunities and limitations of this process?
Keith Laakko: The challenges laser cutting faces are still speed and cut quality. In the development of paper substitutes, multi-layered synthetic constructions are becoming the standard for many reasons including price, demand, and end use. As improvements are made in laser cutting of label stocks, edge quality and liner strike will always be important.
The investment into laser cutting also needs to be considered. The maintenance and performance reliability of new laser-type equipment could also be expensive compared to standard rotary cutting machines.
There is plenty of room for both laser and rotary to exist in this market. Rotary die-cutting offers far more advantages at this time though and is the reliable choice for most convertors.
You want to read further opinions on this topic? The whole interview series please find in this post!
Or read the label die-cutting survey as layouted article as download for free in our shop!