Canon launches inkjet label press

Canon has jumped into the narrow web label market with a new inkjet press, the Océ LabelStream 4000 series, aimed firmly at the high speed industrial end of the market.

Canon has announced its first digital label press, the LabelStream 4000, available in 330 and 410mm widths.

Canon appears to have built on its existing Océ inkjet technology but with some important differences. For a start, it’s a UV inkjet press, which will make it difficult to attack the growing narrow web packaging market since UV inks do not generally cure fully enough to satisfy food safety regulations. That said, these UV inks will print to a wide range of standard filmic label stocks including PP, PE and BOPP.

Canon has also chosen to use Xaar printheads, though Canon has not previously been a big Xaar user. In this case the heads are Xaar 2001 with a resolution of 720 x 600 dpi, which is a strange choice given that most of the older machines run at 600dpi while some of the newer ones offer 1200 dpi. These machines print CMYK plus white at a maximum speed of 48mpm, which is really the minimum speed for any serious volume for a digital label press. There is an optional performance mode of 68 mpm, which Canon says is for “less demanding print jobs” meaning that the print resolution will be significantly worse.

There are two versions, one at 330mm wide and a wider 410mm model. There’s an option to add flexo print units to create a hybrid solution, as well as embellishment and finishing units for a single pass conversion line.

Crit Driessen, Vice President & Head of Digital Packaging PPP, explains, “Océ is keen to break into forward-looking markets, and industrial packaging printing offers excellent opportunities for new revenue streams. Digital products currently account for only a relatively small part of this market worldwide, but the share expected to grow rapidly. We are confident that market players will appreciate the Océ LabelStream’s productivity and customizing abilities as a way to add value to label printing.”

It certainly makes sense that Canon would want a share of the growing digital label market. Whether or not this series offers anything over and above the digital label solutions that already exist is a matter for debate. No doubt we’ll have a clearer idea of how this will fit into the market at this year’s Label Expo show in Chicago in September.

Canon says that there no beta sites for this press at the moment. The Océ LabelStream 4000 series should be available in Europe by the end of this year. It’s likely to be priced between €650,000 and €1.5 million depending on the configuration.

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