New Opportunities In Digital Label Production
Labelexpo 2019 was an inspiring event for Memjet – and the industry as a whole. This year was the largest Labelexpo ever, with over 37,903 attendees from 140 countries attending the four-day show. Based on the size and scope of this year’s event, it is clear that the label and package printing industry is not just growing; it is thriving. In response to that growth, Memjet introduced its new DuraFlex technology at Labelexpo 2019. This modular, single-pass print solution combines the speed, simplicity, and affordability of Memjet technology with new attributes such as enhanced durability, A4 and A3+ widths in a four-color printhead, a high-speed data path, and modules that control all printhead functions. Together, these features give OEMs the resources to create a new breed of label printing solutions that meet the demands of a changing label market.
Yesterday’s Trends are Today’s Reality
There has been much discussion among industry leaders about the trends that are affecting label production. At Labelexpo 2019, we saw how these trends are becoming real for label providers, creating increased cost pressure on providers across the market. Much of that cost pressure comes from the increased demand for short-run labels. Today, as brands seek to use labels to create connections with consumers, demand for versioning and customization of labels is outpacing the traditional production of large volumes of labels. Moreover, as data drives marketing—and labeling—decisions, converters must be able to keep pace with quick response and turnaround times. Material costs are another factor. As print runs become shorter, the waste from make ready, as well as unused inventory, becomes a much higher percentage of the production cost per label. Finally, an aging workforce makes it challenging for providers to find employees who are skilled in the art of analog label production.
Digital Printed Labels on the Rise
To effectively compete in the new market, many label providers are turning to digital inkjet printing solutions. “Digital color printing technology has become a vital resource for label converters who seek to compete in a market that values customization and faster response times,” said Gianluigi Rankin, director of product marketing at Memjet. Digital printing also helps label providers reduce waste in their label production. In the digital printing process, the “make-ready” process is significantly curtailed. And, by only producing the number of labels needed, digital printing eliminates the extensive inventories of labels and the waste associated with out-of-date labels. It is also easier to digitally print labels; because much of it is automated, label producers can use existing talent or train new users to manage the printing process.
Small Solutions, Big Impact
Although the digital production of labels has been growing for some time, what is new are the types of solutions being developed to meet the heightened demand. A new breed of digital labeling and packaging solutions has caught the attention of the industry: namely, mini- and benchtop presses. These presses include features and capabilities of larger, more expensive media in a scaled-down solution that is easier to operate and comes at a lower cost. The mini-press or benchtop label press is an ideal solution for label converters looking for a production-class digital label press with a low acquisition cost to produce short-run, on-demand, and variable data print jobs. These smaller, more affordable solutions enable brand owners and manufacturers to streamline their processes and take control of insourcing their own label and package production.
Speed and Quality in a Small Package
The new features of DuraFlex give OEMs the resources to create affordable mini-and benchtop, and entry-level presses with the quality and speed previously unavailable in those types of solutions. Because DuraFlex is an economical printing technology, it provides OEMs with a low-risk way to move to inkjet or expand their existing product lines by adding new solutions. With 1600 x 1600 dpi and built-in nozzle redundancy, DuraFlex produces market-leading print quality at print speeds up to 30 inches per second/46 meters per minute. “DuraFlex is a powerful yet economical printing technology,” said Rankin. “The technology includes a modular four-color, pigment ink-based printhead system designed to cover the requirements of a range of industrial print applications including benchtop and entry-level roll-to-roll label and flexible packaging presses as well as other sheet-fed light production and wide-format packaging applications.” The cost benefits of DuraFlex extend to the end-user. DuraFlex’s long printhead life minimizes intervention rates, resulting in higher productivity and profitability for print providers. “DuraFlex was designed to give OEM partners the flexibility and simple product integration needed to keep pace with the trends that are driving the labeling market,” said Rankin. “These OEMs can use DuraFlex to power a range of printers that produce high-quality, customized labels at an affordable cost of ownership.”