On separate occasions this year, two major label press manufacturers raised the curtains on two digital printing machines, each capable of applying colour inkjet inks and flexographic inks and coatings, and of performing a full range of finishing applications. Both are so new that the kinks have yet to be worked out, but together these companies – Mark Andy and Gallus – make the statement that they are committed to advancing digital print alongside the conventional processes that have nurtured them for generations.
Digital is roaring along
The demand for conventional flexo presses in the narrow web marketplace is fairly healthy, and pretty much everyone agrees that flexography isn’t going away in the foreseeable future. But digital is roaring along. Continuous technology tweaks make these machines better and faster each day. Short runs and very short runs are now common, and digital printing machines execute these with precision and no material waste. Even printers who can be considered quite small are examining digital options to keep pace with their customers’ needs. Read the full article in our eDossier “Digital label printing – Overview.“
The success of the digital print market in the label industry has given rise to supporting industries, most notably finishing lines. Most digital presses are print-only machines, and therefore a second run for die-cutting, foil application, embossing, varnish, or screen printing is required on an off-line system. Inkjet presses appear to have the most success combining printing and fin ishing inline, particularly with laser cutting modules, but most users of HP Indigo and Xeikon, a dry toner digital press, utilize a two-step process.
Attempts to combine inkjet printing with the label finishing process began in 1997, when a group called the Digital Label Alliance was formed by 17 converters, most of them North American, along with press manufacturer Webtron. The goal was to create a digital inkjet module that would fit on an inline flexo press. One or two test units were built, but the project and the alliance faded from the scene. In order to get more information, visit our shop to download the whole article for EUR 2,95.
The next inkjet hybrid venture was undertaken by Mark Andy about a decade ago. During Labelexpo Europe, select converters were invited to view the machine at an offsite location. That attempt also did not make it to the marketplace.
Today’s Digital Series comes with two years of research and development by a new Mark Andy Digital team whose members were hired away from HP’s inkjet division in California, including Chief Technology Officer Jaren Marler. The company presented the digital press at Labelexpo Americas in September to eager crowds.
The inkjet unit is mounted on the frame of a Performance press. Pre- and post-print finishing and converting stations in any combination can be installed surrounding the digital unit. The inkjet heads (the company does not disclose the brand) print at a native resolution of 600 x 600 dpi at a width of 318 mm (12.5”). The unit prints up to six colours (CMYKOV) and opaque white can be applied via inkjet, flexo or screen printing. The inkjet press is capable of printing at a maximum speed of 76 m/min (230 fpm) using six colours. Learn more about “Digital label printing – Overview” – you can easily download it for EUR 2,95 in our shop.