By Melissa Donovan
Part 2 of 2
Many print providers as well as label converters utilize a hybrid approach when printing labels. The first article in this two-part series defines what hybrid printing as it relates to digital/flexographic label production, the benefits/limitations, and most utilized features.
Here, we provide a product round up.
BOBST offers a single point of contact—one press to prime, print, embellish, and cut with—using a single operator. Any assistance you need on the press for the flexographic station, digital module, converting section, or embellishment, you have to contact the same company—BOBST. Its presses offer modularity, giving converters the opportunity to make changes over time. If a certain configuration today, it could add-on additional modules tomorrow. The press offers high-quality 1,200×1,200 dpi printing and digital print speeds of 100 meters per minute (mom). Automation features include DigiFlexo, which allows for the automation of the length and side register setup and control. Also, DigiFlexo allows for servo-controlled pressure adjustment.
Dantex Group manufactures PicoJet; a Modular Hybrid Digital LED UV Label Press. It meets the demands of narrow- to mid-web customers and features a modular design at both ten- and 13 ¾-inch printable widths. PicoJet is a six-color digital label press that is customizable to meet specific requirements and enjoy onsite upgrades as requirements change. Customers can choose from an array of inline hybrid modular options, such as easy-load precision die cutting, lamination, edge trim/slitting, and flexographic workstations with cold foil and full lamination options. Combining hybrid modules with a digital engine offers options like single-pass SuperWhite, variable data, and pre-registration printing with die cutting. With a 2.5 picoliter minimum dot size, customers can enjoy quality print detail at speeds of up to 250 feet per minute (fpm).
In partnership with Canon, Edale created the Labelstream 4000 series. The hybrid configuration offers a custom mix of UV flexographic, embellishment, and finishing units combined with the UV inkjet press, turning it into a fully integrated single-pass label conversion line. The UV inkjet print engine is supported directly by a Canon service network. The Labelstream 4000 reaches speeds of up to 75 mpm or 1,845 meters squared per hour plus multiple options for efficient single-pass label conversion. Canon announced its acquisition of Edale in April 2022.
Focus Label Machinery Ltd.’s Focus dFlex is a true hybrid, combining inline servo-driven flexographic printheads and converting facilities with the dFlex Hi-Q four-color UV digital inkjet press. Die cutting can be either full or semi rotary. The modular inkjet system is available in 14, 223, or 297 millimeter wide versions, with running speeds of up to 50 mpm. In addition to process colors, a white option is also available, with LED pinning—for printing onto transparent or metallized substrates, aluminum foil, or for overprinting dark background colors.
Fujifilm’s Graphium UV digital hybrid inkjet press offers label and packaging printers an alternative to flexographic and screen printing of four-color plus white labels and decals up to 16 inches wide. With very little setup time, it can handle short, medium, and specialty work. The device can combine digital print, UV and aqueous flexography; add die cutting, slitting, embossing; and incorporate variable data printing.
The Digital Series iQ is a fully-integrated inkjet press built on the Mark Andy Evolution Series flexographic platform. Powered by a Domino N610i UV inkjet module, it boasts digital brain power and Mark Andy converting excellence. It reaches productions speeds of up to 230 fpm at a maximum web width of 13 inches.
The MPS EF SYMJET is a hybrid flexographic inkjet solution that also utilizes Domino digital inkjet. The Domino digital unit utilizes Kyocera printheads to print a resolution of 600×600 dpi, with up to six colors and opaque white. The inkjet portion of the solution offers a web width of 430 millimeters, and the flexographic portion a web width of 430 millimeters. The EF SYMJET is equipped with all possible converting options, including gravure and screen.
From Nilpeter, the PANORAMA is a complete inline solution, consisting of a DP-3 digital inkjet unit, flexographic units, and converting solutions. It offers a five-color inkjet print engine, web infeed, 14-inch flexographic printing units, semi-rotative die cutting or quick-change die, and value-add units such as hot foil and embossing.
OMET offers a digital/hybrid solution called XJet. It is available in three widths from 340, 430, and 530 millimeters, has a print resolution of 1,200×1,200 dpi, eight digital colors, and production speeds up to 100 mpm. The XJet can be combined with die stations and processes such as cold and hot foil, rotary screen, lamination, and other embellishment in a one-pass integrated solution.
Paper Converting Machine Company provides the ION hybrid system, which is a wide web printing platform. Currently offerings range from 28 up to 42 inches wide inkjet printing. The current configuration has four flexographic printing decks with extreme drying capabilities along with inline lamination.
Digital print technologies bring benefits like variability and cost-effective shorter runs. However, flexography brings economic longer runs and high speeds. Label printers and converters get the best of both worlds with hybrid options.
Read part one, Best of Both Worlds.
Apr2022, DPS Magazine