A survey of the die-cutting of labels: Part 12 with Wink
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 12, the last part of this survey, Dr Andre Gysbers from Wink discusses this relevant part of label production.
Survey conducted by Rosina Obermayer
Dr Andre Gysbers
What are the current challenges for the die-cutting of labels?
Dr Andre Gysbers: We see an ongoing shift towards more sophisticated labels and ever thinner liner materials. Flawless die-cutting on these thin liners is only possible with perfect tooling: The die-cutting unit needs to be very stable, all components including magnetic cylinders and flexible dies need to come with very tight tolerances, and an adjustable anvil like the Wink SmartGap is an absolute necessity. In addition, the composition of labelstock can create a challenge, e.g. when a very hard face material is combined with a soft liner. We have developed special blade geometries and refinements for our SuperCut dies to meet these demands.
- 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?
Dr Andre Gysbers: At first glance, one would naturally see advantages for laser cutting in the digitized production world, because converters could integrate it more or less “seamlessly” into their system. However, this view is too short, because the alleged savings on the one hand are counterbalanced by many economic disadvantages on the other. We also see numerous successful efforts in the field of “traditional” rotary die-cutting to integrate the cutting unit into the digitized and automated production process in order to minimize make-ready times and increase efficiency. The SmartGap “Touch” developed by Wink is just one example of this, and further developments in this direction will follow.
- In general: what are your preferences for certain applications? (Semi) rotary die-cutting or laser die-cutting?
Dr Andre Gysbers: There is no general answer to this question. Although we as a die manufacturer of course always tend to prefer rotary tooling, we consider ourselves as a partner and consultant for our customers. If it makes sense in individual cases, we also recommend laser cutting. However, we often see that the investment in a laser cutting unit is not economically worthwhile due to the numerous limitations in terms of handling different materials, speed, and cost aspects (see below). This is especially true for long-run applications at very high speeds.
- Laser die-cutting is a rather new technology: where do you see the opportunities and limitations of this process?
Dr Andre Gysbers: Laser cutting is rather a complement than a replacement for conventional die-cutting and has its strengths especially in very short-run digital printing. However, with many standard shapes on stock and todays’ fast delivery times, traditional tooling remains very competitive even in this sector. Some materials are either impossible or very difficult to process by laser. Visual defects like burnt or white edges are unacceptable for many label applications. The comparatively slow speed is another disadvantage. The more complex the contour, the slower the production speed. It is not without reason that at trade fairs, the laser suppliers preferably show simple rectangular shapes. In addition, investment costs are very high and follow-up costs for maintenance and spare parts must not be neglected.
You want to read further opinions on this topic? The whole interview series please find in this post!
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