Mishmash of new machines and trends

Amid the hustle and bustle at the 33rd edition of the four-day show, which was held from 24-27 September in Brussels, Supreeth Sudhakaran traces and taps noteworth trends and launches.

08 Oct 2013 | By Supreeth Sudhakaran

Lisa Milburn, managing director, Labelexpo Global Series said, “This is the biggest show that we have done so far. We had the largest delegation from Japan, India, and Brazil etc. Over 600 exhibitors participated in the show this time with one of the largest number of machine launches. We have expanded our visitor base and that has resulted in significant increase in the footfall.” Exhibitors too unanimously echoed her views. In fact, few even informed us that they have cracked several deals, initiated discussions on joint-ventures and collaborations. According to the organiser, the seven of Brussels Expo’s exhibition halls attracted 31,795 visitors (up 11% on 2011) from 158 countries (up from 123 in 2011) and just under 600 exhibitors (up from 550 in 2011).  Sources suggest that the number of visitors from India took a dip.
New heavy kit
Several exhibiting companies at the show boasted of introducing new technologies, products and services. If we dissect each of the launches, the broad trends that outlined the introductions were: sustainability, linerless or less-liners, and the emergence of digital inkjet label presses.
Mark Andy showcased ProLED – most advance UV LED curing system, Mark Andy QCDC (Quick Change Die Cut), Mark Andy Versa Max – a mid-web flexographic printing press designed for film and flexible packaging, Rotoflex Tracker – advanced horizontal finishing machine or inspection/slitting/rewinding, Rotoflex DSI die cutting system, and Rotoflex URC 2.0 control systems for finishing equipment, which will be featured on two Rotoflex machines – the VLI 440 and the VSI 330.
Spain-based Rotatek has launched two new kits at the Labelexpo Europe show. The first is a new digital converting machine called Digitalis and the other is an advanced modular UV-flexo machine with shaftless technology named Smartflex, there by combining the power digital with the conventional to provide labellers the ability to convert without limits.
Prati launched two new machines, two upgrades and also announced its tie-up with Ritrama and ILTI for the Core Linerless Solution. Alhena IML and Star Plus are the new launches, while Saturn Midi and Saturn BIDI are upgraded models; all are finishing platforms. Martin Automatic, the North American manufacturer of automatic splicer, rewinder, and tension control systems, gave its MBS splicing and LRD rewinding machines a few modifications, which include a new touchscreen controls that makes it easier for the operator to see the functions of the machine or do some diagnostic work on the machine.
Gallus’ focus during the show was on its Linoprint L, Print Shop, the new Gallus 340 and LED UV-enabled Gallus 280. Xeikon also utilised the platform to launch Thermoflexx 80, which it claims to be the fastest imager for flexo plates with auto plate loading. This is in addition to its new dry toner ICE for its digital label presses. Nilpeter announced the launch of FB-3 flexo press at the show and in fact claimed that it has garnered 24 orders by the end of the show. Rotometrics rationalised its flexible dies into four Accu-Series, categorising them as: AccuSmart, AccuPrime, AccuStar Ultrafilm and AccuStar Life. MPS introduced the new EB flexo press for printing and converting self-adhesive labels. The company also highlighted an extended MPS EF multi-substrate press line, with three versions.
Grafotronic has launched a new four-colour bi-directional inkjet press made in collaboration with Masterprint Europe. It also manufactures Grafotronic 440 HI slitter/rewinder. The company’s Indian representative Global Graphics Machineries clinched order for three Grafotronic 440 HI slitter/rewinder at the show from Ajanta Packaging, which will be installed at Ajanta’s Baddi plant. Italy-based Glunz & Jensen (G&J) introduced its latest compact all-in-one unit, Concept 205 C. The unit can expose, process, dry and finish, all at one go. Creed Engineers who made their debut at the show with their brand Vinsak launched Vinsak LSR330 label inspection slitter rewinder. The machine was demonstrated along with Vinsak VIS 1200 inkjet system. Chennai-based Monotech Systems was another first-timer from India to exhibit at the expo. The company showcased the new developments in JetSci Y series industrial inkjet systems. Esko, the integrated solution supplier, introduced its HD flexo solution for labels after a successful stint with the Full HD flexo for flexible packaging, which it introduced in April 2013.
Switzerland-based Nanovis demonstrated its enlarged parts-washer NWC- 1200 live at the show. It was one of the only such machines within the segment, which was granted the permission for live demonstration at the show because the machine utilises a non-volatile cleaning agent. 
HassleFree Technologies unveiled the second version of its NB-330 off-line die-cutter at its debut Labelexpo Europe 2013. Anuj Bhargava, managing director, Kumar Labels said, “The machine that we showcased at the exhibition was sold to a company in France. Two more machine deals are in their final stages. We are in process of appointing dealers in Europe, Coratia, Portugal and Turkey.”
Software and media
In software and consumables segment too there were some announcements. Michelman unveiled two new DigiPrime primers optimised for the HP Indigo 20000 and HP Indigo 30000 digital presses. Dalim Software demonstrated a number of version updates of its popular workflow automation software Twist, Enterprise Solution, and its soft proofing application Dialogue Engine. Global Graphics Software highlighted its Harlequin Digital Hub for label printing, while Weldon Celloplast showcased its tamper evident envelopes, besides showcasing label solutions, silicone release liners, A4 labels, specialty tapes and specialty labelstocks.
UPM Raflatac reiterated its commitment to sustainability by exhibiting under the theme ‘Engineered with Raflatouch’. The company also introduced several new products at the show including Raflex Pro Clear- a new 50-micron MDO film targeted at the personal care labelling segment. It brings a no-label look to flexible and squeezable containers. The company also introduced its RP 30 XTRA adhesive which is compatible with a wide range of WSA paper facestocks. Also, RP 30W is a new wash-off adhesive for returnable bottle applications.
Digital: upping the ante
However, it was digital label printing which had the most to offer. According to reports, there were over 50 digital presses at the show, highlighting the strong indelible incursion of digital label printing in short-run label jobs. Epson announced the launch of SurePress L-6034VW digital label press, the first Epson industrial press to feature UV ink. It also unveiled what it calls, a next generation inkjet printing technology that is poised to transform the printing business, the PrecisionCore technology, to drive industrial and office inkjet printing. The newly launched L-6034VW has become the first to single-pass industrial press to employ the PrecisionCore technology.
RTI Digital, formerly OWN-X, launched Vortex 851R label printer powered by Memjet technology at Labelexpo Europe that was extensively talked about during last Drupa. The machine can printing up to 30 cm per second and priced RTI claims that it is the fastest and most affordable inkjet printer of its kind. Afinia too launched its Memjet Waterfall powered L-801 label printer that offered printing at the speed of up to 18m/min on a 216mm width at 1,600dpi resolution.
Durst extended the Tau 330 offering by adding a low-migration UV ink version to its inkjet label printer. The machine uses low-migration UV ink from Sunjet. Tresu Group introduced a flexo coating system specifically designed for integration into a digital sheetfed folding carton printing line, even as it showcased the iCoat 30000 coater at the HP stand.
HP announced the launch of a new silver ink, which it claims will for the first time allow converters and printing service providers to use silver ink on digital print digital print possibilities. The digital press manufacturer also announced the installation of its 500th installation of the WS6600 series digital press at RakoEtiketten’s plant in China. Running alongside the WS6600 were the two Drupa debutants – HP Indigo 20000 and 30000 with expanded digital printing capabilities. Dainippon Screen joined the bandwagon with its Truepress Jet L350UV digital label press aimed at the growing inkjet label printing market in Europe. The press can also handle security printing to ensure product authenticity to fight counterfeiting.

A word of caution: 
Innovation is the most abused word in our industry. Minor changes are often thrust in market with the “new and improved” tags. As  Robyn J Buma, global procurement director - paper, Avery Dennison materials group mentioned in her presentation at the AWA Conference: There’s a need to actually define a demarcation between what is an innovation and an upgradation or tweak. Both are different and need not mean the same.