By Cassandra Carnes
Part one of three
Digital label production is poised for growth. As demands for shorter, customizable print runs continue to grow, print providers, brand owners, and traditional converters are evaluating the potential success of this segment. Many manufacturers offer dedicated digital label printing solutions. From desktop devices to heavy machinery, there is a solution available for almost every commercial label printing need. Here, we provide a look at leading vendors and determine where the solutions are positioned within the market.
Allen Datagraph Systems, Inc. (ADSI) provides short-run digital label printing and digital die-less finishing solutions. Its products, specifically the iTech AXXIS Digital Label System, are positioned towards the short-run, on demand market, which they consider as runs of under 5,000 labels. ADSI products enable print service providers to produce small quantities of labels in a just-in-time business environment. The most important aspect of the iTech AXXIS is its ability to create labels in any shape with digital die-less finishing. The system prints roll-to-roll while the finisher laminates, die-less cuts, strips the waste matrix, and winds the labels into finished rolls.
Colordyne Technologies offers high-speed color printing solutions powered by Memjet technologies. The company says its printers are a game changer within the industry, causing businesses of all sizes to look at label, tag, and form color printing. Colordyne products are designed to optimize the way comapanies are doing business with high speeds and low costs. The printers are based on Memjet technology, which provides a disruptive technique that meets the needs of affordable color. Colordyne printers allow users to print what they want, when they want it. Offering the power of in-house printing, the devices are utilized on the manufacturing floor or in the warehouse. The Colordyne digital press is able to deliver 1,600x1,200 dpi at 160 feet per minute.
Durst narrow web digital printing and finishing products fulfill the demand for shorter run jobs with added value and high image quality. As in other market segments the company serves, they respond with production speed and quality, cost efficiency, and minimal environmental effects. Durstís narrow web roll-to-roll UV inkjet press offers eight colors. Apart from CMYK, opaque White for both under and overpring is available as an option, as well as orange and violet for an expanded color gamut. Digital varnish is also available for online spot varnish applications.
EFIís Jetrion product line focuses on roll-to-roll digital label printing systems, all of which are based on UV inkjet technology. EFIís digital label know-how originated in Flint Inkís digital printing division, acquired by EFI in 2006. EFI reports over 100 installations in the field and several years of experience with digital label printing. The company is the worldís largest maker of UV inkjet inks and also owns RIP, management information systems, and workflow technology.
While Epsonís activities in the label market are fairly recent, the company has a significant advantage in being a global leader in inkjet technologies. Epson allocates many resources to applying Epsonís Micro Piezo inkjet technology across multiple label printing products and markets. Its current portfolio of label products includes just-in-time color solutions and the industrial prime label press. The Epson SurePress L-4033A digital label press offers several differentiating features including a six-color, water-based pigmented industrial ink set; superior spot color matching capabilities; and the ability to print on non top-coated materials.
Indigo introduced its first label press, the Omnius press, 17 years ago. Today, Hewlett-Packard Indigo is a leader in the digital label market as well as one of the most frequently purchased brands of label devices overall, with more than 1,300 presses worldwide in label and packaging. While the volume of labels HP Indigo presses produce is important, the company says its customers also use the presses for a full range of product decoration/packaging products, including shrink sleeves, folding cartons, and flexible packaging.
INX International has developed conventional inks as a core business for the label market. The company began introducing hardware equipment and digital devices to this segment through a series of technical previews and new product introductions in 2008. Its joint venture with Spartanics on the narrow web NW140 label press features several key differentaitors from the competition. One is its combination of printing and conversion. It has the capability to lay down a primer or pre-treatment laser cutting all inline.
iSys Label designs, manufactures, and sells high-quality, rugged, and reliable direct thermal, color LED, and color inkjet printers and potters. The company is developer of short- to mid- run digital label presses that deliver production quality labels print after print. The APEX 1290 has a quick layout designed based on the Media Manager and Library, it includes die-cut media or conventional media rolls, individual labels, and total job costing using the toner cartridge calculator. It features a web width of 12.9 inches and length of up to 1,500 feet as per the roll size. It runs over 30 feet per minute, allowing for material management, job sheet, and job solution creation with the ability to add slit and registration marks for individual labels and page layouts on non die-cut media. The APEX 1290 is equipped with a 12-inch rewinder that is adjustable to match the continuous media output while winding labels, preparing the rolls for the finisher or applicator. The iSys Label APEX 1290 also offers color management, toner coverage management, CMYK to Pantone matching, ICC profiling, and color registration.
OKIís company lineage includes label printing and related solutions, including a history of cut-sheet label printing. A newer entry into the digital color continuous labeling market is the OKI proColor Series of printers for the graphic arts and production markets. Within the proColor line is the pro510DW digital color web press that handles variable data quickly and easily in full color. Developed for graphic arts and production environments, the pro510DW is able to produce fast, customized continuous web printing in HD Color. It is ideal for short-run printing and color-critical applications. It can be used in combination with its various supplementary products to provide effective color printing at an affordable price point.
Primera provides short-run digital label printers and digital label presses. The company has built specialty label printers for more than 25 years. Full-color, short-run jobs from ten to 10,000 labels at a time are the sweet spot for Primeraís digital label presses.
Xeikon provides end-to-end solutions for digital label production. The Xeikon 3000 Series offers users a choice of high-performance digital label presses, a fully integrated digital workflow, application-tuned toner, and finishing equipment. In 1993, Xeikon was the first to introduce a roll-fed, full-color, digital label press. For more than 15 years, the company has developed extensive knowledge of print media within the label market, teaming up with partners worldwide. Based on open industry standards, the solutions fit seamlessly into any production environment, increasing brand efficiency and flexibility.
Digital Labels for All
Dedicated digital label printing solutions are ideal for those looking to enter the label market for the first time. Printers from traditional backgrounds can offer a broader service portfolio, and end customers have the ability to bring label production in house. Those not ready for a dedicated solution should consider the ability to create label products utilizing existing equipment. Depending on substrate requirements, many digital presses and wide format print-and-cut devices have the capability to produce short runs of labels, but not as effectively as a dedicated device.
In addition to the December print article on digital label production, we explore the choice between inkjet and toner in part two of this three part series.