By Cassandra Balentine
The label segment is rapidly adopting digital print technologies to accommodate increasing requests for smaller runs and versioning. It’s up to each provider to decide when it is time to invest in digital, and to what extent, but inevitably it is where the industry is heading.
Above: Middleton Printing of Grand Rapids, MI, recently printed beer labels for Brewery Vivant Wondersplosion IPA using its Epson SurePress L-6034VW digital label printer.
Middleton Printing is a print provider based in Grand Rapids, MI. The shop focuses on label applications, offering custom labels, decals, sale stickers, thermal transfer, and cut vinyl.
The company started in 1960 as a general small format commercial printer with sheet-fed presses, incorporating high-speed envelope printing in 1972 and flexographic printing 1976. Today it has ten employees and operates out of a 10,000 square foot space.
Middleton Printing installed an Epson SurePress L-4033AW digital label printer in 2013. Recently, it expanded its digital line up, making a full transition to digital with the purchase of the Epson SurePress L-6034VW.
“As the commercial printing market started to break away from analog printing and transition to digital printing, we took a step back to observe how this trend would affect us and our customers and decided to adopt digital printing technology as quickly as possible,” comments Steve Middleton, president, Middleton Printing. “This allows us to meet the growing needs of our customers to print labels digitally, and adopt the growing trend in automation.”
The company first installed a digital press five years ago, but began researching solutions in 2009. In 2012 it attended Labelexpo and got a firsthand look at the Epson SurePress L-4033AW and decided to make the jump to digital.
“At this point, Epson already had a reputation for amazing quality and color accuracy, which helped with our decision to purchase the press. The quality of the labels printed from the press is excellent, it offers a simple workflow with automation features, and also meets our needs for short-run label printing,” shares Middleton. “We were also impressed with Epson’s commitment to the market and how they use their own technology in the SurePress,” he adds.
Middleton Printing expanded its digital portfolio in 2017 with the installation of the Epson SurePress L-6034VW. “One of the main factors that helped us decide to purchase and install the L-6034VW is its white ink capabilities,” he says.
The company offers UV LED cured ink with the Epson SurePress L-6034VW and aqueous inks with the L-4033W.
The L-6034VW features an Epson-developed PrecisionCore linehead, center drum system, and digital varnish. The press integrates all of the functions required for label production, such as a corona treater, white ink, digital varnish, and an additional UV curing unit.
The Epson SurePress L-4033AW features Epson’s MicroPiezo inkjet technology. It offers a six-color—cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange, and green—industrial-quality, water-based ink set that produces a range of colors for consistent results. The L-4033AW includes a seventh white ink to print a transparent, no-label look, as well as metallic-type labels.
For jobs that require spot PMS colors or textured substrates, the shop elects to use the L-4033AW because of its wide color gamut. On the other hand, the L-6034VW has a more durable ink set, including matte and glossy varnishes.
“Implementing digital print technology has allowed us to be more efficient and expand capabilities. We are able to produce more products with less people and create labels that many flexographic companies cannot,” says Middleton.
Middleton Printing recently printed a run of 2,000 labels for Brewery Vivant. The shop used the Epson SurePress L-6034VW its varnish capabilities.
The creative was submitted by the customer and measured 8.2x.125 inches. The design was printed on silver metalized BOPP film with the L-6043VW then die cut on a METAS 1-Series semi-rotary die cutter.
“For this job, there was no way to cost-effectively print the labels without digital technology,” comments Middleton.
Middleton Printing realized early on the importance of digital technology to its success as a label printer. It continues to watch for technologies to stay ahead of the curve.
Mar2018, DPS Magazine