Heidelberg USA rolled out the red carpet for participants in the 2012 LPIA (Label Printing Industries of America) Technical Institute on March 7 at its North American Print and Packaging Technology Center in Kennesaw, GA. Printers and converters in attendance left with a clear understanding of where the industry is headed, as well as with fresh ideas and strategies to help their businesses raise efficiency, resolve problems and drive profitability. A companion event took place at Hewlett-Packard’s Graphic Arts Experience Center in Alpharetta, GA on March 6.
The conference drew label printers and representatives from manufacturers of specialty substrates across the U.S. for a series of presentations on topics ranging from digital and sheetfed packaging technologies to label finishing, and from prepress workflow solutions to strategies for improving performance and productivity.
“The conference afforded participants an outstanding opportunity to see how two highly innovative manufacturers are supporting the packaging industry,” said LPIA Chairman Lou Iovoli (Hammer Packaging). “Packaging printing is evolving at a rapid pace. The convergence of digital, inkjet, and conventional printing technologies is re-shaping our production workflows, giving companies an opportunity to lower their costs and expand the range of products and services they offer.”
“LPIA members are in the vanguard of companies that are steadily advancing the state-of-the-art in label and packaging printing,” said Andy Rae, Senior Vice President, Equipment, Heidelberg USA. “As in years past, this year’s Technical Institute gave attendees a fresh opportunity to view the latest innovations in package printing and label converting, with an emphasis on end-to-end production, workflow solutions, and business consulting expertise intended to make practitioners as efficient and profitable as possible, well into the future.“
During the course of the day, attendees saw the latest end-to-end production and workflow solutions designed to reduce lead times, inventory and waste; execute a seamless workflow from online design to final printing; and achieve optimal image quality, consistency, and reliability.
Among the highlights was a chance to see Heidelberg’s latest addition to its Tech Center pressroom: a 6-color Speedmaster XL 105 with dual coating unit for aqueous and UV and full interdeck UV drying. The new press is the beneficiary of no fewer than four InterTech Technology Award-winning innovations from Heidelberg, including the Peak Performance, 18,000 sph XL platform (2007); the Prinect Press Center with integrated Wallscreen and advanced Intellistart software (2009); Prinect Inpress Control in-line color measurement and registration (2008); Prinect Inspection Control for print and material defect detection (2010); and new DryStar LE (low-energy) UV. Heidelberg’s small-format Speedmaster SM 52 with Anicolor Inking Unit also garnered considerable attention for its shorter makereadies and the efficiencies it brings to bear on short-run sheetfed printing projects, including labels.
On the finishing side, participants saw the most advanced high-speed POLAR P.A.C.E. cutting system (POLAR Automation for Cutting Efficiency), recipient of a 2008 PIA InterTech Technology award. Also featured were label-cutting equipment built around the DC-M and DC-11 high-die and SC-21 square-cutting systems displayed in various configurations for efficient manufacturing. Of special interest to attendees were POLAR P-Net and Compucut networking technologies, demonstrating state-of-the-art postpress data communication. The KAMA ProCut 74F die cutter with hot foil and finishing and ProFold 74 folder-gluer were shown with an emphasis on value-added features like embossing, debossing, foiling, plastic cutting, gluing, and specialty applications.
In consultation with Heidelberg experts, participants also were encouraged to explore new brand-building processes, markets and brand applications, as well as new capabilities developed to address the growing demands of the exploding marketplace for packaging, label and specialty printing.
“Printing and converting is a capital-intensive business,” Iovoli noted. “Companies that fail to invest and reinvest also will fail to compete effectively. Kudos to both Heidelberg and HP for giving us the benefit of their insight and expertise.”