Digital UV inkjet label printing has reached the point of full market readiness. It impresses with its handling of small and medium-sized print runs and offers new applications for primary packaging
Brixen, Italy – 04/23/15 – Durst, specialist in industrial inkjet applications, presented the latest developments in label printing for the label and packaging industry from April 14th – 16th at "Digital Days 2015" in Brixen, Italy. More than 150 participants from three continents participated in the 3-day event. Helmuth Munter, Segment Manager of Durst Labels & Package Printing, led the varied program of events, which included guest speakers from Rako Etiketten, TLF Graphics, Sunjet and Spartanics. The main focus was on digital advancements with the Tau 330, new applications with low-migration inks and workflow automation with the laser finishing system. Another focus was digital market potential in the packaging industry, followed by a look ahead to Labelexpo Europe 2015.
"We are overwhelmed by the response and the large number of participants and see this as confirmation of the digital growth potential for label printing," said Helmuth Munter, Segment Manager of Labels & Package Printing at Durst Phototechnik AG. "In 2009, we began adapting inkjet technology for label printing and today have the most successful UV inkjet label printing system on the market, the Tau 330. We're not limiting our efforts to printing technology, though. We're also developing complete production lines with our partners Sunjet and Spartanics to make new applications and a high degree of automation possible. This opens up the full potential of digital inkjet technology to our customers, technology which offers a lot more than conventional printing processes."
Market trends and low-migration inks
According to a current Pira study, UV label printing is about to hit an immense growth spurt. While global turnover for labels was around $1.8bn in 2013, this number is expected to grow by 250 – 300% over the next 5 years. This will be possible not only due to growth in traditional areas such as labeling, safety and advertising, but primarily as a result of new applications in primary and secondary packaging for food, cosmetics and medication.
In his presentation, Rick Hulme, Global Sales and Product Manager at Sunjet demonstrated the potential of low-migration inks for UV printing. In close partnership with Durst, Sunjet has developed high-pigmented UV inks which comply with the various different migration rules of the European Union, Swiss Ordinance, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Japanese Food Sanitation Law and Chinese Packaging Regulation, as well as the directives of the European Printing Ink Association (EUPIA) and the American NAPIM. The complexity of low-migration inks also takes into account the various different forms of migration, i.e. penetration, contact, evaporation and condensation, as well as the different packaging materials used.
The Tau 330 is the first UV inkjet printing system for which low-migration inks have been approved. Certification was carried out officially according to ISO 17025 by Sunjet and also by an independent laboratory. For printing primary packaging, the Tau 330 features an integrated chill roller for the processing of thin, heat-sensitive materials, such as aluminum foils for blister packs, yogurt cup lids and lots more. In addition, the integrated inert gas system reduces the typical odors of UV inkjet printing so that the requirements of the food and pharmaceutical industries regarding low-odor printing processes are fulfilled.
Automation of production processes
The automation of production processes also contributes to the growth potential of UV printing. In his presentation, Mike Bacon, VP of Sales & Marketing at Spartanics commented on successful cooperation with Durst in the development of an inline laser finishing system for the Tau 330. The complete system marketed as the Tau 330 LFS offers automatic end-to-end processing, from printing to the final die-cut product. The die-cut shape is created automatically by the DFE software and sent to the laser finishing system with the printing data at the same time. Using a barcode, which is output with the printing order, the system selects the correct shape and automatically produces the die for the corresponding job.
For full refinement, the Tau 330 can be expanded with optional UV coating and lamination units.
As the first user of the Tau 330 LFS, US-based TLF Graphics shared its experiences with the end-to-end system. Bob McJury, VP of Sales & Marketing at TLF Graphics in Rochester, New York, was enthusiastic about the professional installation and initiation phase. The decision to acquire the Tau 330 LFS was made in November of 2014, and by that December, the new system was installed and the team trained. In January, TLF Graphics was already carrying out production. Bob McJury presented a host of products made of coated and uncoated materials produced with the Tau 330 LFS to event participants. He drew special attention to image quality, durability and scratch-resistance, which are important quality features in industrial labeling, product decoration and trade.
The Tau 330 vs. other printing systems
By shifting from silkscreen printing to the Tau 330, TLF Graphics was able to reduce the amount of time required by up to 740 minutes (four-color printing, print run of 2,500 units). With regard to laser finishing, McJury pointed out the different standard US sizes and the limitation in material strengths. Here as well, though, he was enthusiastic about Durst and Spartanics, who confronted the challenge and developed appropriate solutions.
As one of the largest label manufacturers in Europe, Rako Etiketten shared its experiences with the Tau 330. Roger Gehrke, Manager of the Digital Printing Division of the RAKO Group, utilized his presentation to show the striking differences between the HP Indigo and the Tau 330. Since being installed in October 2013, only a single print head has failed, and only four maintenance tasks were required in 2014. The Tau 330 boasted 95% uptime in 24-hour operation, and not a single customer complaint was filed. To Rako, the Tau 330 has been the perfect investment for minimizing the conversion expenses from traditional silkscreen printing. At the Hamburg location alone, these expenses amount to several million €, only some of which could be passed on to customers. Accordingly, the Tau 330 is being used for small print runs and late-stage versioning. Roger Gehrke also pointed out the outstanding image quality and the high-coverage white, which is used on many cosmetics labels. Thanks to the additional process colors, customers are also able to reproduce nearly 90% of the Pantone color space.
A look ahead to Labelexpo Europe 2015
At the Labelexpo Europe 2015 trade show, Durst will be presenting a completely new Tau 330 system with all the new innovations, such as the large unwinding and rewinding units for roll lengths up to 4000 running meters. To make entry into the world of UV printing attractive to smaller label manufacturers as well, Durst is also planning to introduce a more cost-effective version of the Tau 330 printing system. The Tau 330 E will feature the same print quality, but a smaller set of features and options.