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Jessica Harkins at LabelExpo Europe 2013

LabelExpo Europe 2013 Jessica Harkins

According to Twitter, this year’s LabelExpo Europe 2013 was quite the event, with a turnout 11% greater than two years ago and almost 32,000 visitors in attendance. The momentum was good on the show floor, with both exhibitors and attendees excited about new products and the future viability of the show, both as an informational tool and a promotional outlet.

It was easy to see that the focus on the event was on digital printing, but highlights also included finishing operations and web inspection as it related to digital print. While the show didn’t possess the highest number of brand new-innovations in recent history, many newer technologies and processes received some impressive advancements making them much more production-friendly.

“Pinning” was the buzzword to know at LabelExpo Europe 2013, referencing the UV curing between ink-jet heads, which begins the ink curing process.

Major New Technology – UV LED Ink Curing

 
Some of those impressive newer technologies in flexo printing include UV LED ink curing, which were first seen in Roland UV inkjet printers. Today, both digital presses and UV flexo ink can be cured with UV LED Lights, with the main downside being that this curing technology requires compatible UV ink. While adding the new lamps to existing printing solutions can be very expensive, consider that this technology is relatively new, having first been introduced at Drupa in 2008.

What are the Benefits?

There are however considerable benefits to UV LED ink curing, namely increased press speeds, estimated by most flexo experts to be anywhere from 20 – 33%. With such increased efficiently the demand for this technology is sure to drive down cost. Other benefits are directly cost related as well as the using the LED to cure UV ink requires less overall power consumption and provides very low amounts of heat with long lifetimes and lamp stability. Essentially you are looking at a technology that can reduce the cost of an entire print operation and for those interested in marketing green benefits, the LED curation produces no ozone or mercury waste.

Who Has It

During LabelExpo Europe 2013, the Flint Group was proudly seen actively promoting their UV LED curable inks, the “EkoCureF”, which is already in use at their Minnesota location on their Mark Andy Press.

Siegwerk and Gallus also had a joint display of this technology at Label Expo. Be sure to check out their live demos with the new ink series for led UV technology.

Our Exhibiting Partners

 
Our exhibiting partners were also fully present as well, eager to show off their latest lines of products and innovations in the flexographic printing industry.

AVFlexologic

AVFlexologic had a FAMM-HS running on display, which ran flawlessly throughout the entire show and generated a ton of interest. Additionally, the AVFlexolgoic TAM (Tape Application Machine) generated quite a bit of buzz as well. The very first TAM (Beta) will be installed later this year, with the first US version expected in Q1 of 2014.

AVFlexologic also had a new stainless-steel processing unit on display, the Cosmoline, which can process a plate up to 48 x 36” and includes a membrane filter and centrifuge for removal of polymer, Despite how great this sounds, the starting price of the inline Cosmolight Water Wash Processors was high and the unit is still in beta testing.

Toyobo

Toyobo has introduced their new line of “Z” materials, which are available in both digital (QZ) and analog (NZ) for customers who want to test it today. The goal is to have it production ready by Q1 of 2014. Toyobo reps claim this material should fix any issues seen on the “S” material link with ink-transfer or cupping.

Trokia

Trokia is a partner with the Provident Group, a subsidiary of Anderson & Vreeland. They showcased two devices, namely the AniCAM and Plate-II-Print. The AniCAM is an Anilox inspection camera and software that can track wear and conditions of the anixol over time. It’s quite an affordable system for any size shop interested in improving process control in their plant.

Plate II Print is a small, portable plate / print reader that uses a high resolution DInoLite microscope and combines with the dot-analysis software to create a plate measuring device.

Equipment / Brands to be Aware of

 

Phoseon

Phoseon is a manufacture of UV LED Curing equipment and the brand is well know for its LED curing of flexo inks & coatings as well as digital UV press UV curing.

Xaar

Xaar is a manufacturer of inkjet heads as many of the inkjet heads in the UV inkjet digital presses are manufactured by Xaar including Durst, EFI, FFEI, INX / Spartanics, JF Machines and SPGPrints.

Kyocera

Kyocera, the multinational electronics and ceramics manufacturer also creates its own inkjet heads and recently opened a new facility in Germany.

Mekrom

Mekrom has a new line of equipment for batch and inline processing, along with a new staff to ensure assistance with sales and technical issues.

Ovit Plate Wash Systems

Ovit is an Italian manufacturer of flexo printing systems and they showcased their flat plate water that removes ink from plates.

Xelkon

Zelkon debuted their 5080 laser imaging device, currently available in optics 40, with the team promising optics 80 to be available soon. The most interesting part of the machine is the loading and unloading table, which happens automatically with minimal user intervention.

Stock

Stork introduced their Stork Mask Ablation Laser with Inline UV (variLex UV + iR), a brand new small format mask ablation laser for rotary screen material, dry-offset and flexo. It also has a UNV LED Head for UV Curing of material directly from the drum.

Digital Press Manufacturers

 
In addition to these companies, which are hoping to position new products and services in the flexo market, there were many more manufacturers, resellers and systems providers at the expo. Digital Press Manufacturers, especially for digital printing, finishing and web inspection were everywhere during LabelExpo Europe 2013. UV inkjet was clearing the majority of the show’s offering, with a wide differential on available speeds, substrates and inks. Below are a few more companies with some impressive digital offerings at the show and if there is one key takeaway its that digital printing technologies will be a key driver of growth in flexographic printing for years to come.

Major Digital Print Press Manufacturers

  • SPGPrints
  • Domino
  • Xelkon
  • HP
  • Screen USA
  • Durst
  • Epson
  • EFI

Major Conventional Press Manufacturers

  • Gallus
  • Mark Andy
  • MPS
  • Nilpeter
  • Omet
  • Nuova Gidue

Web Inspection Equipment

  • AVT
  • BST Promark
  • Nikka
  • Eye-C

I hope you enjoyed my recap of LabelExpo Europe 2013. If you saw any great innovations or companies that deserved an honorable mention or you think could be a driving force in the industry, please be sure to leave a comment below.