In some methods, this yr’s European Label Expo has been a tough present to report from as a result of I had anticipated to see a lot of new machines after the pandemic-enforced four-year break however in actuality, most distributors had already introduced their machines beforehand in order that the primary curiosity was round rising tendencies relatively than particular person information objects.
All of the speak on the primary day was in regards to the insufferable warmth within the halls and the shortage of air-con. Some distributors complained that guests have been too sizzling to cease and simply stored shifting from one stand to the subsequent. To begin with, many individuals that I spoke to have been hesitant in regards to the deliberate transfer to Barcelona for the present’s subsequent outing in 2025. However by the top of the primary day, most individuals have been trying ahead to the trendy services and air-con that Barcelona’s Fira floor guarantees.
It does appear to me that the position of digital label presses is beginning to evolve extra absolutely. Up to now, many converters purchased digital presses to complement their flexo manufacturing by taking over shorter-run jobs. The pandemic pressured many converters to reevaluate their strategy to digital, which additionally allowed them to pivot rapidly to tackle completely different markets – sometimes meals and well being merchandise – to match fast shifts in client demand.
This raises the query, which is most effective – a roll-to-roll digital press with offline ending; or a hybrid machine that may do every little thing in a single move? Bui Burke, senior vp of gross sales for Display screen Europe, estimated that about 80% of consumers most well-liked a standalone digital printer. Nevertheless, Jed Hardcastle, enterprise improvement director for Dantex, mentioned, “In Europe, folks primarily search for hybrid however within the USA they go for extra roll-to-roll.”
Bobst – Digital Knowledgeable 340
Bobst took an fascinating strategy to this query. Bobst was the one one of many main inkjet press producers to announce a brand new inkjet press on the present with the brand new Digital Knowledgeable 340, which is a roll-to-roll inkjet press. And but, relatively than exhibit this new press, Bobst selected as an alternative to showcase its current hybrid mannequin, the Digital Grasp 340. I’ve already lined Bobst’s presses in a separate story however it’s price noting that though the Digital Knowledgeable and Digital Grasp use the identical inkjet print unit, the primary distinction between the 2 is the velocity.
The Digital Grasp hybrid runs at 100 meters per minute whereas the Digital Knowledgeable is restricted to 65 meters per minute, although this may be upgraded to 100 meters per minute by way of a license to unlock the software program. Matteo Cardinotti, who heads up Bobst’s slender and mid-web division, defined, “The entry-level velocity is restricted to decrease the funding value of the machine. The market is large worldwide so for some firms, 65 meters per minute might be sufficient to switch a know-how that’s slower.”
He added that on the hybrid machine, 100 meters per minute is quick sufficient to be a viable various for a flexo press for the labels and packaging markets. He says that the selection between flexo and hybrid relies upon available on the market and utility however notes, “I might say that the hybrid is extra standard now. It’s newer.”
It’s additionally price noting that the Digital Knowledgeable is a 340 mm press whereas the Digital Grasp is on the market in each 340 mm and 510 mm widths.
Gallus One inkjet press
Gallus confirmed off the Gallus One inkjet press that it had introduced final yr which I’ve lined in additional element right here. As I famous in that story, this appears like a piece in progress to me. Thus far Gallus has modernized the underlying chassis by switching to the modular Labelmaster as the bottom. Because of this the Gallus One is suitable with the complete vary of flexo models that have been designed for the Labelmaster. It additionally opens the chance that Gallus can develop wider variations of the inkjet press because it already has 440 mm and 570 mm Labelmaster chassis out there to it.
Nevertheless, Gallus remains to be engaged on the digital print unit. Because of this in the meanwhile it’s a five-color press – CMYK plus white – operating at a most velocity of 70 meters per minute, although there’s room so as to add three extra ink channels. For now, the Gallus One is the slowest of the main presses which can be utilizing Fujifilm Dimatix’s Samba printhead. The Samba has emerged because the gold commonplace within the slender net market, with each Bobst and Durst managing to run at 100 meters per minute at 1200 dpi with this head. That in flip means that Gallus ought additionally to have the ability to hit that kind of velocity. Dario Urbinati, CEO of Gallus, instructed me, “On the finish of the day what we have to obtain greater velocity is an extra spherical of improvement with greater viscosity ink. We aren’t there but once we can publish something however we do have the ink formulation.”
Durst – new bulletins
This brings us to Durst, which had a few fascinating bulletins, although little in the best way of latest tools. Firstly, Durst has dedicated to increasing its association with Omet over the collectively developed XJet hybrid press. Basically this can be a Durst RSC Tau digital press with Omet flexo models on both facet. Durst will now tackle the gross sales and advertising and marketing for each the digital and standard elements of this design and convey it absolutely into the Durst portfolio. This also needs to give Durst extra freedom to additional develop this built-in idea. That mentioned, the XJet itself, full with a Durst Tau RSC 510 mm extensive inkjet press, was proven on the Omet stand.
Durst did introduce a brand new high quality management system that it calls Hawkeye. That is primarily based on a single scanner that covers the entire print width. It is ready to decide up lacking colours however doesn’t embrace a spectrophotometer to measure any spectral information. For now, it runs at 80 meters per minute although among the Durst Tau presses can run at as much as 100 meters per minute. Product supervisor Martin Leitner says, “The following improvement might be for 100 meters per minute.”
The Hawkeye could be retrofitted to all of Durst’s RSC sequence label presses, which means these with Samba heads, He says that the nozzle compensation is a part of the Dimatix Samba printhead system, which permits for blocked nozzles to be switched off and for adjoining nozzles to print bigger drops. However he provides that the Hawkeye system builds on this by finding and compensating for the blocked nozzles in real-time at speeds of as much as 80 meters per minute. He explains, “Most methods work in set-up mode or in upkeep so the operator must print a particular take a look at sample and this must be minimize out within the publish course of.” He says that the majority various methods simply carry out comparisons with a grasp picture, including, “However the Hawkeye just isn’t doing that. It makes use of an AI algorithm which we educated with hundreds of thousands of samples of fine and unhealthy labels. This was an enormous period of time and makes the press simpler to make use of.”
There isn’t any setup wanted so the operator doesn’t want to show it or to set the sensitivity. It really works absolutely routinely within the background with steady inspection and correction of the print. Leitner continues, “When it logs a mistake the operator can verify it to see if it’s actually a mistake or ok.”
Durst developed the Hawkeye system with CoVision Lab, a software program firm that Durst co-founded and which makes a speciality of deep studying and AI know-how. Leitner provides, “They produce other merchandise like 3D modeling and that’s additionally the place Durst goes to have the chance to have this useful resource in-house which may speak to our software program engineers from prepress to print.”
Leitner says, “We’re lifting inkjet to the subsequent stage. We’re beginning now to know the prints as a result of we’re in a position to get actual information in regards to the conduct of the nozzles and the printheads and we will use this information to drive particular actions.”
The Hawkeye will match into Durst’s analytics service package deal. It ought to present if a particular printer is performing worse than anticipated and if the service regime must be modified for that press. Leitner provides, “It should permit us to have rather more prospects the place now we have folks managing a fleet of machines. The system has a value however we really feel that the ROI might be fairly fast.”
Naturally, Durst can also be contemplating which different elements of its portfolio can profit as Leitner notes, “We now have the core know-how. We begin with the single-pass label machines. It doesn’t make a lot sense on multi-pass however I believe it’s a logical step for different single-pass machines.”
Display screen – hybrid line
Display screen confirmed a hybrid line that mixed a Nilpeter FA with its Truepress L350 UV SAI inkjet label press. Display screen has lengthy had a hybrid possibility with Nilpeter however this has now advanced right into a extra built-in strategy. Burke explains, “We now have the Nilpeter folks all the info they should be part of with our press so prospects can select no matter models they need.” He says that though nearly all of presses are offered as standalone models for better flexibility, there’s a number of curiosity on this hybrid strategy. Burke provides that Display screen has develop into open to partnering with different distributors and that every one the codes and connections are pretty commonplace so Display screen also needs to be capable of combine with different producers.
Display screen additionally confirmed a prototype of an inkjet primer unit throughout the L350 SAI press that’s designed to enhance ink adhesion on the harder substrates. This has meant including an additional print bar with pinning instantly afterward earlier than the opposite colours. That in flip implies that it could’t be supplied as an improve to current prospects. It ought to be commercially out there early subsequent yr.
In any other case, the SAI press itself can take as much as seven colours – CMYK plus white, blue, and orange. It runs at as much as 60 meters per minute at 600 x 600 dpi decision although this velocity slows all the way down to 50 meters per minute.
Display screen additionally confirmed the identical prototype of its Pac520 single-pass inkjet as was beforehand seen on the Hunkeler Innovation Days and Interpack earlier this yr. Display screen has tailored the prevailing TPJ520NX to create a brand new press for printing to paper-based packaging. Nevertheless, Display screen remains to be testing the supplies and tweaking the ink formulation so that is unlikely to be commercially out there till early subsequent yr.
Domino – inkjet module
Domino used the present to announce a brand new inkjet module that may be retrofitted to flexo presses to create a hybrid press. The N610i-R unit relies on the prevailing N610 platform and makes use of the identical Kyocera printheads. The bottom mannequin makes use of 4 colours – CMYK – and there’s a 5-color model with two printbars for white ink. Domino has gained a fame for producing extremely opaque white ink, claiming as much as 72% opacity. There’s a selection of ink units, together with the usual UV90 and UV95, that are appropriate for non-direct contact meals packaging.
It was proven with flexo models from Mark Andy however Paul Bunyan, workflow options marketing consultant for Domino, says that it’s comparatively easy to adapt it to be used with different producers if prospects require it. It has a 330 mm print width. Decision is as much as 600 x 600 dpi at 50 meters per minute. Bunyan says it’s attainable to extend the velocity by altering the waveform to supply three drops as an alternative of 4.
Within the subsequent a part of this story [to appear in Packaging South Asia‘s December issue] I’ll take a look at among the different inkjet presses, with the toner gadgets to come back in an extra half.
First revealed on 11 October 2023 within the Print and Graphics Journal www.nessancleary.co.uk
Printed by permission.