Labelexpo Americas 2018: What can visitors expect?
Labelexpo Americas 2018 takes place from 25 to 27 September in Chicago, IL, USA (Source: Tarsus)
This year’s Labelexpo Americas promises to be bigger and better than before: with a strong trend towards hybrid flexo-inkjet presses, further automation of conventional flexographic press system and a trend towards materials diversification, as label converters print more non-pressure sensitive materials including shrink films and flexible packaging.
Written by Andy Thomas-Emans
As UV inkjet systems have increased in speed and print resolution, it has become more feasible to place conventional print and converting units in-line with the digital colour engine which has provided the main route for the major conventional press manufacturers to enter the digital print market. This year’s show launches reflects this including Mark Andy’s Digital Series HD hybrid technology, with imaging resolution increased to 1200dpi and a new arched inkjet unit design which allows the press to print unsupported films.
Omet launches in the USA its XJet powered by Durst, which matches X6 print and converting units with the Durst Tau print engine, operating at speeds up to 78m/min (255.1 fpm). Nilpeter shows its latest USA-built Panorama hybrid press.
Another way of achieving a hybrid print system is to mount a digital module onto a flexo press. Fujifilm, for example, launches its Samba 42000 inkjet Printbar, with a 1200 dpi resolution and line speeds up to 90 m/min (300 fpm), while Mark Andy shows its “Digital Screen” retrofit module on a Performance Series press.
There is also a tendency for UV inkjet to replace conventional coating units on the finishing end of the press, even simulating “high build” UV screen effects. Printbars can be used in this way, and Konica Minolta’s MGI JetVarnish 3DW combines digital spot UV coating with embossed hot-foil effects. HP has its own GEM UV inkjet embellishment system placed in-line with a WS6900 press.
Labelexpo Americas 2018 sees continued advances in standalone digital presses, including HP Indigo’s new WS6900 incorporating Pack Ready for Labels. According to the company, the system enables production of high-resistance labels for food, household and chemical applications. In addition, shrink sleeve label production is showcased on an 8000 press and the company debuts a 20000 digital press line with a new 30” (762 mm) coating and ABG designed slitting unit.
Demonstrating how inkjet print speeds and resolution are increasing, Hanway introduces its 13.7”-wid (350 mm) LabStar330 digital press, printing at speeds up to 100 m/min (328 fpm) with a 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution. It is available in 4 to 7 colours including optional white and spot colour.
Colordyne Technologies meanwhile debuts an integrated digital print and finishing system, the 2800 Series Mini Laser Pro, which includes full colour print, lamination and laser die-cutting.
Uteco continues its move into the narrow web digital space, demonstrating both the Gaia electron beam inkjet printer and the Saphire Evo digital press developed in cooperation with Kodak. This uses water-based inks to print on films and paper at speeds up to 900 fpm (275 m/min).
Another manufacturer entering the narrow web digital space at Labelexpo Americas 2018 is Bobst, whose Mouvent division will demonstrate its Cluster imaging technology.
In a ground-breaking development, Labelexpo Americas showcases, for the first time, a fully automated shrink sleeve production line. Sleeves are printed on a fully automated MPS EF 430, 8-color flexo press including an intelligent pressure setting. The Cerm MIS generates job tickets directly on the press console and sends an inspection command to the AVT press inspection system. Shear slitting on the Grafotronic inspection slitter rewinder is set automatically via a barcode. Slit rolls are then transferred to an Accraply ASFC forming and seaming machine, which is set up automatically by a barcode.
The Automation Arena also features a digital line, with a Xeikon CX3 press fitted with integral laser die cutter, turret rewind and Matho waste removal – again fully integrated into the Cerm MIS for all elements including job planning and final invoicing.
The trend towards ”Big Data” will be widely seen. Mark Andy, for example, is launching Mark Andy AI, and Bobst will integrate even its entry level shaft-driven M1 press into the Internet of Things. Automation and enhanced changeover efficiency are also features of the presses shown by Nilpeter – debuting its new FA line in the USA – and the Bobst M6.
So this looks to be a very exciting Labelexpo Americas show. In today’s rapidly changing package decoration market, converters need to react quickly to emerging brand owner requirements. On show are the new opportunities presented by cutting edge technology in automation, factory integration, managing waste and diversification into new materials.