Digital printing seduces the label market

So, as Label Expo comes to a close its time to reflect on the show. It was a busy, lively event with plenty of visitors, particularly in the digital hall. HP, which launched a new silver metallic ink for its Indigo presses, still remains the market leader. Indeed, HP has just celebrated the 500th installation of a WS6000, to a factory in china owned by the Rako Group.
Xeikon, which demonstrated its Ice toner for printing to heat sensitive materials, remains in the number two spot. Xeikon also showed off an inline laser cutting system.
But there were a lot of new single pass inkjet devices. The leading inkjet player is EFI, which launched a new press, the Jetrion 4950 LX. It has a higher resolution than previous models, up to 720 x 720dpi. EFI also showed off new finishing options for its Jetrion lines. These include a varnishing module, and a new high-powered laser cutters that are better able to keep up with the printers regardless of the size of the label or the intricacies of the cutting patterns.
But at the show we saw a number of new players that are determined to grab a slice of the label market. Thus Epson showed off its new label press, the SurePress L6034VW, a UV printer complete with LED curing. Epson is going for the higher quality end of the market, with the machine running at just 15mpm but with 600x600dpi resolution. It uses CMYK plus varnish and there’s an optional white ink.
Epson has developed a new print head, PrecisionCore, a greyscale head that has two rows of 300 nozzles giving a native resolution of 600dpi. For the L6034VW 11 of these chips have been stitched together to form a single pinbar which will be suitable for single pass printing
Screen launched the Truepress Jet L350UV, It uses Kyocera printheads, with 600×600 dpi resolution, which will appear higher since these are greyscale heads. It runs at 16mpm.

FFEI's new Graphium, a 410mm wide UV inkjet press using Xaar 1001 printheads.
FFEI’s new Graphium, a 410mm wide UV inkjet press using Xaar 1001 printheads.

FFEI showed its new Graphium press, which is being distributed by Fujifilm. It uses Xaar 1001 heads, which will run at a maximum speed of 50mpm at a resolution of 180x360dpi. Managing director Andy Cook expects most customers to run the heads at 35mpm, with a resolution of 360x360dpi, equivalent to 1080 dpi. The inks are Fujifilm’s UVijet UV curable inks and for now it comes with CMYK plus white, but from next April there will be an option to have white both before and after the process colours for over and under white. FFEI is looking beyond the label market at other niche areas such as window graphics. It has a web width of 410mm and can be used as a standalone digital press or inline with flexo units for a hybrid solution.
The American company INX showed its freshly launched NW140 label printer. This is a UV inkjet with LED curing, using Xaar 1001 printheads, with CMYK plus white and varnish. INX is primarily an ink developer and Angelo Possemato, national account director, says that INX has developed all the electronics that drive the heads, rather than using those supplied by Xaar, making it easier to tune the heads for the INX inks. It runs at 25mpm and costs €385,000.
ALS has also used the Xaar 1001 heads for its UV inkjet press. It uses Sunjet inks and as with most Xaar machines it runs at 25mpm at 360dpi resolution, which is equivalent to 1080dpi. It has an option for a built-in laser cutter and should come in at less than €500,000.

Miyakoshi's MJP13LX 2000 inkjet label press using water-based inks.
Miyakoshi’s MJP13LX 2000 inkjet label press using water-based inks.

But for me one of the most interesting new machines was Miyakoshi’s MJP13LX 2000, shown for the first time at Label Expo. It uses Kyocera printheads, with 1200 dpi resolution, and runs at a maximum 50mpm. Most unusually it has water-based pigment inks combined with a hot air drying system. The base unit has four colours but it is possible to have up to eight – CMYK plus red, green, blue and grey. Eisuke Morishita of Miyakoshi’s sales POD division, says: “We tested many colours and decided this combination should offer wider colour gamut.”
The standard configuration includes a rotary die cutter and costs around €400,000. Now, normally Miyakoshi prefers to sell through OEM deals, but it is planning to sell this directly under its own name. Miyakoshi has long been one of the most interesting digital vendors so it will be good to see the company operating in Europe under its own name.
Overall it was a fun show and it was interesting to see that since the last Label Expo in 2011, the label market seems much more accepting of digital printing. This is just a quick snapshot but there is a longer version in the October issue of Spindrift – you can subscribe via the Digital Dots website.

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