GLOBAL – Earlier this week, Mike Fairley discussed the evolutionary changes that have taken place in label printing technology over the last three decades. In this second part of his analysis, he takes a look at digital label printing.
When it comes to investing in digital there are various other factors to be considered as well as just investment in a press. Digital printing is all about new ways of working. It’s about enhanced colour management. It’s about making decisions whether to go conventional or digital as late as possible. What throughput of different jobs can be handled each day without getting bogged down in administration and paperwork? All these factors are likely to require more sophisticated Management Information Systems (MIS). Yet another key investment decision to be made.
Then there is the additional challenge with digital of what dpi resolution to go for; does the work produced need a white ink in one of the printing heads; does the press have an extended colour gamut. Press running speeds between all the digital label press technologies also vary quite considerably. How important is speed with many short-run job changes?
Go digital and the converter also needs to decide whether to invest in in-line or off-line finishing. If in-line, every job change may mean a press stop to change cutting dies. If there are multiple short run jobs to be produced the die-changes can take up a considerable part of the press day and offer reduced press running time. That means reduced output and potentially lower profitability. Off-line finishing can mean that one finishing line can handle the output of several digital presses, so maximizing press production time.
Another finishing investment option for the label converter might be laser die-cutting; a higher-cost investment, but offering significant benefits where multiple short runs are required each day. Used with say, inkjet, laser cutting technology combined with inkjet (or Xeikon) technology where there is no fixed repeat length, offers the exciting potential of batching jobs across or along the web for maximum economics and performance.
Looking back, it seems that more changes in printing technology, particularly for self-adhesive label printing processes and technologies, have occurred over the past 50 years than at any other period in the last 400 years.
Even today, change in label printing and converting technology is still continuing to take place, and this will become increasingly evident as new makes and models of label presses will be launched, including ever more printing machinery emanating from Asia and the world of digital printing technology.
FINAT, founded in Paris in 1958 with headquarters in The Hague (The Netherlands), is the worldwide association for manufacturers of self-adhesive labels and related products and services. With 600 members in over 50 countries around the world, FINAT helps label converters and all suppliers to the labelling industry by facilitating information exchange and creating opportunities to network internationally.