It is no secret that over the past decade digital technology has been a disruptive force for the print industry. For years, some over-zealous digital advocates have tried to sound the death knell for analog printing, yet that hasn’t happened. In fact, many forward-thinking commercial label printers have been adding digital color print technology to supplement their existing analog presses.
“2010 was a bigger year for color electrophotographic presses than we expected. Meanwhile, inkjet placements were not as robust as we had earlier forecasted,” says Bob Leahey, Associate Director of InfoTrends. “There’s good growth, though, on both sides. Converters now often use color digital presses in tandem with their analog systems, and some converters operate both electrophotographic and inkjet presses.”
Additionally, Leahey’s team found that, in 2010, printers spent about $166 million on color digital presses for labels and packaging, and he estimates that number will grow by about 10% annually through 2015.
In the meantime, while the industry is learning to work with both digital and analog label printing technologies, PackPrint exhibitor Xeikon (Booth 4027) is focused on increasing the presence of its digital label presses.
Last year, when Xeikon launched its heavy-duty 3500 series label press, Filip Weymans, Business Development Manager for the firm’s Labels and Packaging Division, admitted that early digital print technology was lagging behind the performance of analog printers. But now Weymans is convinced that digital is here to stay.
“We believe the Xeikon 3500 will also have a significant impact on the break-even point between digital label printing and conventional printing technologies. This will enable the cost-effective production of volumes beyond the 4,000 linear meters using digital technology and will speed up the transition from analog to digital label production. Until now, digital printing still had capacity limitations compared with traditional label printing. With the 3500, we can fill this productivity gap,” Weymans says.
For short-run label printing, both Roland DGA (Booth 3835) and Xanté (Booth 5033) are offering high-quality digital solutions aimed at different market segments.
For example, Roland’s VersaUV LEC Series printers are ideal for commercial printers looking to prototype high-end wine bottles. The short-run device is able to produce 100 personalized labels, each with a different name, serial number, or artwork. These printers are now available in 30" and 54" models and can print CMYK plus white on foils, BOPP, PE, PET film, and offset stock. Also, they can add a clear coat for three-dimensional effects.
Xanté’s Degrava DP 8500 Digital Press offers a low cost system for printing short- to intermediate-run labels, tags, tickets, or other narrow web applications. The DP 8500 is the perfect option for label printers who need to quickly produce simple and vibrant color labels.
Considering all of the digital options available for commercial label printing, it looks like digital is here to stay—and PackPrint is here to help keep you on the cutting edge.