Digital Printing
At IGAS Japan 2018 HP Indigo showcased several new advances designed to help printing companies boost value, quality and automate digital print production.
The Graphic Systems Division of Fujifilm North America has released the first product in its Samba Printbar System line, the Samba PS4300, for the commercial and packaging printing segments. Described as a compact printbar system, the Samba PS4300 is designed to be easily integrated into most existing print equipment or manufacturing process to add variable inkjet imprinting capabilities, including offset presses, flexo presses, mailing tables, and more.
Canon Canada has announced the new optional POD Deck Lite XL Long Sheet Feeder, designed to help users of the imagePRESS C850/C750/C650 and imagePRESS C65 digital colour presses to run continuous auto-duplexed long sheets of sizes up to 13 by 30 inches, it says.
The Pro C9200 and C9210 Graphic Arts Editions are the latest additions to Ricoh’s Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group portfolio, suitable for producing book jackets, six-page brochures and other applications with speeds up to 135 pages per minute on stocks up to 49 inches long and 470 gsm.
Xerox says it is introducing “another first” in the world of print — the only digital press that can print metallic gold or silver dry ink, CMYK and clear dry ink in a single pass. Announced today, the Iridesse Production Press is described as a high-speed, six-station colour press that combines four-colour printing with up to two specialty dry inks in one printing pass, eliminating the multiple presses and processes usually required for print embellishments, Xerox says.
Xante has introduced the new En/Press as its next-generation digital envelope press. En/Press is a four-color process press built around an Adobe PostScript controller that delivers full-colour output at up to 60 letter-size pages per minute or 4,000 #10 envelopes per hour with variable data. Powered by Xante’s iQueue workflow software, En/Press produces print quality of up to 4,800 dpi.

The En/Press includes PlateMaker 8 computer-to-plate technology, meaning the same press that produces envelopes, NCR forms, and stationery, can also produce polyester plates. PlateMaker 8 takes advantage of the En/Press technology to produce Myriad2 plates on a variety of sizes up to 13 x 19.38 inches that are suited for one- or two-colour jobs.

At 13-inches wide, the En/Press media input handles a range of popular envelope and sheet sizes. Its patented Enterprise feed system delivers envelopes up to 13 x 10 inches and sheets up to 13 x 49.6 inches. The Enterprise Feed System has been redesigned with a slimmer profile. While handling the same 1,000 envelope capacity, Enterprise now accepts media as small as 3.5 x 3.5 inches to expand its envelope printing capability.

“En/Press raises the bar for digital press technology,” said Robert Ross, President and CEO of Xante. “It’s truly a unique solution with its incredible print quality, dead-on spot colour matching, simple ease of use, durability, low cost, and CTP polyester plate printing that Xante customers have come to expect.”
Digital label printing is one of the most attractive segments for printing growth led by significant new demands from brand owners for short-run versioning and variable print work

The digitization of label production began years ago with bleeding-edge projects but only now is beginning take a foothold across the printing world, which is still dominated by flexography. Some of the globe’s largest brands are reinvesting in print with the shifts in advertising effectiveness to younger generations, who may never watch a television ad or block them entirely online.

A recent report by Future Market Insights estimates the demand for digital printing in packaging will grow at 15.3 percent to surpass US$52 billion in revenues by 2026. By product type, labels is currently the largest segment, accounting for over US$7.1 billion in revenues in 2016. Future Market Insights estimates demand for digital labels will increase at 16.7 percent CAGR to reach US$38.4 billion in revenues. The labels segment is estimated to hold the highest market share by the end of the projected period, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global market share by the end of 2027, up from 64.1 percent in 2016.

Consider for example, the money invested by Coca-Cola to produce its largest-ever personalized brand campaign, Share a Coca-Cola, launched in 2013 across 32 countries. Coke used printing operations with HP Indigo presses to digitally print labels with 150 of the most popular first names, nicknames and terms of affection – initially 800 million high-quality personalized labels.

The Share a Coca-Cola campaign became famous across the printing world because it signified a paradigm shift in what is effective marketing, leveraging print. It is an example of long-run versioning through digital, but the possibilities of digital labels burst open.

Commercial printers are certainly attracted to the potential of digital labels but without a large client base will find it hard to invest millions in capital equipment and workflow infrastructure. Instead, many will take the route of entry-level inkjet- or toner-based printing engines, which can be integrated with a range of finishing technologies to work with existing clients and build up a base before committing significant resources. PrintAction spoke with Brett Kisiloski, PDS Sales Manager, about the potential of digital label printing, as well as the challenges and opportunities of investing in entry-level digital printing systems.

What kind of systems do printers need to enter digital labels?
Kisiloski: cEssentially you need two machines for a full production label system. You have your roll-to-roll label printer and your label finisher, which will laminate, die cut custom shapes, waste matrix, and then you can slit into singles from a multiple-up format. We focus on toner-based printers rather than inkjet – roll-to-roll toner. For us specifically, we use the OKI engines. We carry a few different die cutters but essentially they do the same sort of thing.

When is a die-cutter not needed?
Kisiloski: The only time we ever suggest to a customer that it is okay for them just to purchase a label printer is if they are only doing one or two sizes of labels… then it is easy for them to print pre-die-cut and they only need to stock one or two sizes in their shop. If you have a lot of other custom sizes, you can’t just phone up your label material provider saying you need new shapes… it is going to cost you twice as much. The flexibility isn’t there.

Are more commercial printers looking into digital labels?
Kisiloski: A lot of printers like the idea of it. The problem is that even for an entry-level system it is fairly costly if you want to get into a new machine. You are looking at probably an entry cost of definitely no less than $50,000, between $50,000 and $60,000. So you have to think that these printers already have a built-up label business of some sort. I have seen the most random, small print shops that are looking for a label printer. They might be doing hundreds of thousands a month and they have been outsourcing it, because they just happened to stumble across these customers who want labels.

Another challenge with digital labels is finding that sweet spot… Is it going to be six cents a label, eight cents a label, because there is a difference when you have a trade printer quoting five cents a label. What really comes into play is that there is a lot of short-run or variable-data label printing.

How much work do you need for ROI on an entry-level system?
Kisiloski: You actually do not need that many jobs per month for this to make sense. It is likely you are selling that thousand let’s say for $300 and it is costing you maybe $80 to $100 to print. That’s printing, labour and everything, so let’s say $100, and you are making really good margin.

If you are making $200 on every order and you get two orders a week you can pay off the machine. So that is really not a ton of volume for someone to jump into it based on getting one or two orders per week.

What are the pros and cons of inkjet versus toner?
Kisiloski: We carry smaller systems so I do not want to compare too much to the bigger guys… Systems for under $100,000 let’s say. We still sell Memjet print-head [inkjet] systems for envelopes and labels. It is great in the sense that it is really fast and it is quite inexpensive to print in terms of the ink costs. You are printing 60 feet a minute which is two to three times as fast as you are going to get on a toner printer, so it was really interesting a few years ago.

The downfall is that you have to print on inkjet-coated material. About three or four years ago it was still cheaper when all was said and done to print on inkjet with the coated material. In the last two to three years, however, coated material prices have gone up big time, so it is very difficult. I would say it is 25 percent cheaper to print any size label using a toner printer rather than an inkjet just because of the material cost.

Inkjet is also very finicky. It might have 70,000 print nozzles in a tiny little bar stretching 8 1/2 inches wide, so those things clog easily, whereas toner is very consistent.

When does entry-level inkjet make sense today?
Kisiloski: I have a customer who prints post-it notes, for example, and because it is a paper you do not need inkjet coating… The paper stock will absorb the ink… an inkjet system is perfect for him, because it is super cheap. He is just paying for the ink and it is really fast. But most people print on gloss paper or polyesters or vinyl, which has to be inkjet coated and you are doubling or tripling your cost.

What is most exciting about digital label printing?
Kisiloski: The label business is huge. Packaging is a massive industry so it is very exciting to be able to offer that… it is nice to be able to provide different options for a customer when they walk in the door and open up their mind a little bit to other ways of making money
Kernow North America has launched its new KernowPrint for HP Indigo line of printable synthetic materials featuring Cobalt Coating Technology. Describing the new product as ready-to-print and certified synthetic media, KernowPrint includes bright-white synthetics, specialty colors and an expanded range of printable films.

The RIT-Certified KernowPrint for Indigo range will include KernowPrint Elite bright white synthetic paper, KernowPrint Vivid and Pastel-coloured synthetic media. The company plans to increase the number of available materials to include vinyl, styrene and specialty media such as metalized films.

KernowPrint for Indigo ready-to-run films features proprietary Cobalt Coating Technology, which the company describes as chemistry based of years of research in creating formulations for the digital printing market. Kernow explains Cobalt provides an exceptional print surface and maximizes ink adhesion of the HP Indigo inks, while also providing a high level of static control in films and enhanced stability in difficult prints.

“There’s been a strong push from our customers and partners for some time to deliver a range of synthetics for HP Indigo that addresses market needs,” said Kernow’s Dan Lawellin. “In putting together this portfolio of products, we’ve consulted industry leaders and relied heavily on customer feedback to create a product set that not only fills market gaps but takes into consideration the features and benefits that mean the most to printers.  We’ve tried to address as many of these features as possible, – from stabilizing films for easy multi-shot printing to utilizing our Cobalt Technology to control static and improve overall print performance on challenging materials.”
Scodix introduced the new Scodix Ultra2 Pro Digital Enhancement Press with Foil Station, describing the system as “the ultimate multi material platform.” The existing Scodix Ultra Pro system was capable of producing nine different applications and the Scodix Ultra2 is designed to provide more flexibility, quality and productivity. Users of the Scodix Ultra Pro will be able to upgrade to the Scodix Ultra2 starting in 2018.

Scodix first introduced the Scodix S system in 2012, followed by the Scodix Ultra. Today, close to 300 Scodix systems are installed worldwide.

Scodix explains the Ultra2’s entire print engine has been changed to provide high accuracy of print and cost effectiveness, supported by fast switching between polymers, with improved print quality and material flow. The Scodix Ultra2 includes five ink tanks. A new adaptive LED process controls the curing process with improved accuracy, while the Scodix PAS (Pin Activate Secure) technologies deliver enhancement with ultra-fine detail.

“Our aim at Scodix is to continually support our customers to enhance their competitive edge,” said Scodix CEO, Roy Porat. “There is no polymer in the world that is suitable for all substrates. No drop behaves the same on all substrates or all printed material. Consequently, we have developed the Scodix Ultra2 Pro, alongside our variety of innovative polymers designed for different purposes, as a system which can deliver the ultimate results. This is essentially a multi-material platform.”

Scodix then announced that its E106 press is now commercially available (beginning December 2017), with the next units set to be installed in the EU and U.S. during Q1 2018. The Scodix E106 made its debut at drupa 2016 and was developed specifically to deliver enhancement solutions for folding-carton converters who need the 1,060 x 760-mm format. It delivers multiple applications, including Scodix Foil, Scodix Sense, Scodix Spot, Scodix Variable Data and Scodix Cast & Cure. It allows users to create products using foil over foil, adding Scodix Sense effects over foil, or personalizing with Scodix Variable Data Sense or Scodix Variable Data Foil.

“We are delighted to be progressing into the commercial phase, still working to the schedule we outlined in 2016,” said Porat. “Printers and converters investing in the Scodix E106 will be able to clinch a competitive edge with value-added services that can truly energize brands. The B1 format brings all the advantages of digital enhancement currently being exploited in the commercial market and takes us a step closer a new standard in packaging enhancement.”
Xeikon of Eede, the Netherlands, today announced the termination of its Trillium liquid toner development project. First demonstrated at drupa 2016 via the Trillium One press, the company explains the technology program has encountered several challenges in bringing it to market as a commercial product.

“We continuously review our portfolio and we are confident the segments we operate can be well served with our current dry toner technology and the newly launched Panther UV inkjet technology,” said Benoit Chatelard, President and CEO, Digital Solutions, Flint Group, which owns the Xeikon division. “With our dry toner technology, we will continue our focus on both the packaging and document businesses, as well as specialty segments where we bring significant value including security printing and wall décor.”

Chatelard continued to describe the company’s rationale behind cancelling its Trillium liquid toner development: “Changing market dynamics but mainly ongoing technical issues in developing the liquid toner technology, including press uptime issues, encouraged us to take this difficult decision, and to communicate it to the marketplace in the straightforward, no-nonsense approach we have always taken,” he added. “Our core vision remains supporting high volume, high quality, high value business for our customers in the graphic arts market and security printing.”

In 2015, Xeikon joined Flint Group to create a new Digital Printing Solutions division. Headquartered in Luxembourg, Flint Group employs around 7,900 people.
Kodak has launched a NexPress Substrate Expansion Kit to increase the types of paperboard and synthetic substrates that can be run on the digital press. The Expansion Kit allows the NexPress to handle paperboard substrates with weightings graded up to 24 points (610 microns). For synthetic substrates, the Expansion Kit will give printers the option to print on materials with weightings up to 14 mil.

Kodak explains the ability to work with thicker substrates opens up new opportunities for printers with short-run packaging applications including labels, tags and small folding cartons, as well as differentiated commercial and publishing products like point-of-sale displays, retail signage, business cards and hospitality pieces such as menus and door hangers.

The upgrade takes approximately two days, according to Kodak, and is supported by a full day of onsite training by a Kodak technician that includes best practices associated with running a broader range of substrates. Once installed, Kodak explains the Substrate Expansion Kit allows press operators to quickly make configuration changes to run the full range of substrates without having to have a service technician visit the printing site.

Kodak’s investment in the NexPress platform over the past year also included the release of the NexPress ZX3300/ZX3900 series, as well as the recent release of the NexPress Opaque White Dry Ink, complementing the company’s other nine specialty inks.
At Labelexpo Europe, Xeikon introduced the new Xeikon CX500 digital label press, which the company describes as its first press based on a new generation dry toner platform. It is scheduled to be commercially available as of 2018.

The Xeikon CX500, with a web width of up to 520 mm (20.47 inches), is designed for larger sized labels, labels requiring an opaque white or an extended colour gamut. It also features full rotary printing technology and speeds of up to 30 metres per minute (98 feet per minute).

The wider web of Xeikon CX500 is part of the company’s dry toner Cheetah Series aimed at the high-end self-adhesive label market. Xeikon explains it also complements the narrow-web CX3 press introduced in 2015. “[The CX500] is the most productive digital label press in the high-quality class thanks to its combination of high speed and wider web. The ability to produce larger labels is particularly important with end-use applications such as labels for household products, pet food, decoration, etcetera,” said Filip Weymans, VP Global Marketing, Xeikon. “At the same time, we continue to support the entry-level Xeikon 3000 Series dry toner label presses, which are complementary to our high-end Cheetah Series.”

Like the Xeikon CX3, the CX500 runs on Cheetah toner, which is based on Xeikon’s ICE technology and is designed specifically to cope with the higher speed. The company explains its dry toner process is based on a proven printing process operating at 1,200 dpi that meets FDA regulations for food contact and allows to print on standard label materials without the need pre-treatment, including direct thermal papers, BoPP, PE and Co-Extruded films. The CX500 is also driven by the Xeikon X-800 digital front-end.

“This introduction extends the Xeikon dry toner digital label production portfolio from the entry-level Xeikon 3000 Series presses through to the high-end Xeikon Cheetah Series which includes the Xeikon CX3 and the Xeikon CX500,” said Weymans. “This places digital label printing within reach of label converters of all sizes.”
HP Inc. introduced a range of new technologies for digital printing and embellishment of labels during Labelexpo taking place in Brussels this week. This includes the new HP Indigo GEM, a one-pass digital embellishment system now available for pre-ordering.

Integrated with the HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press, the GEM produces labels with foil, screen, tactile, varnish and other special effects, using one workflow, one operator, and one design file without the need for tooling. The HP Indigo GEM utilizes GEM Coat and GEM Clear, developed in conjunction with JetFX. Shipping of the GEM is expected to begin in the spring of 2018.

“Our LEP technology unveiled at drupa last year was a leap forward, and fully launched to customers. The innovation now continues, as we expand our capabilities and bring the industry’s most powerful digital label printing solutions that will help converters double their digital business over the next few years,” said Alon Bar-Shany, General Manager, HP Indigo, HP Inc.
At Labelexpo 2017, HP is demonstrating the HP Indigo WS6800 integrated GEM, as well as the HP Indigo 20000 press with Pack Ready Lamination for flexible packaging, and the HP Indigo 8000 press. Pack Ready for Labels is a new solution to produce high-resistance labels. It includes an upgraded Inline Priming Unit as an option on the HP Indigo WS6800.
HP Indigo also announced a new ElectroInk Silver, now in beta customer testing. The new ink formula is capable of generating a wide gamut of metallic colours, combining metallic effects with digital capabilities in one printing process.
The HP Indigo WS6800 with Indigo GEM will be powered by the new HP Production Pro with what the company describes as five times faster processing to handle large volumes of variable data printing. HP Production Pro enables converters to centrally manage fleets of HP Indigo label presses, while connecting the press to automation tools like HP PrintOS, MIS systems and the Esko Automation Engine QuickStart for Labels.
Also announced today, HP and Esko have incorporated the Esko Color Engine into HP Production Pro and are extending the cooperation to resell the new Esko Automation Engine QuickStart for Labels, an entry-level solution that allows converters to ramp up prepress productivity in a simple and cost-effective manner.
Canon unveiled the Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Series of sheetfed monochrome production presses, which will be on display at PRINT 17 in Chicago later this month. Set to be available in the Americas in 2018, the TITAN Series builds off the existing Océ VarioPrint 6000 Series and its Gemini Instant Duplex Technology.

The technology, explains Canon, has been developed with increased quality, speeds and a wider selection of media weights and formats. Supporting volumes of up to 10 million letter-size impressions per month, Canon explains the new presses are ideally suited to produce commercial print materials, books and transactional documents.

The Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Series will be available in three versions, including Standard/TP(Transactional Print)/MICR, with a range of finishing options that include booklet-making, perfect binding, tape binding, die punching and trimming.  The Series also offers an open Document Finishing Device (DFD) Interface for further connectivity to compatible third-party finishers on demand.

The redesigned Océ VarioPrint 6000 TITAN Series offers maximum running speeds of up to 320 letter images per minute in perfecting mode, which translates to a potential of more than 30,000 additional letter prints in one week in a one-shift operation. Four new speed models will be available to meet different production requirements (VarioPrint 6180, 6220, 6270 and 6330).

Increased productivity is also supported by extended functionality in the TITAN Series’ new, Windows 10-based PRISMAsync Print Server v7, which allows for job scheduling for up to eight hours to enable unattended printing. Further available tools include PRISMAsync Remote Manager and Remote Control App. User authentication, configurable UI and an e-Shredding option are some of the security features on this device.

The new TITAN Light Weight Media (LWM) Option with LWM Air Guide Technology will enable printing on substrates as light as 30 pound Text (45 gsm). The new light weight media capability is supported by the Océ Gemini Instant Duplex Technology, which uses twin print heads to print simultaneously on both sides of the media without the need to stop and turn the sheet.

Canon explains the Océ Copy Press Technology, which presses toner into the substrate at a low fusing temperature, further reduces the physical stresses on the substrate, while also helping to maintain a flat surface for print and finishing quality and delivering a matte, offset-like image.

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