Are You Printing Fewer Spot Colors Lately?

As I have poked around the industry, gathering comments and insights regarding print quality from print buyers and designers based on the What They Think / Unisource “Digital Print Survey,” I received an interesting comment in a LinkedIn print buyer’s group. The issue of spot colors in digital print isn’t as important as it used […]

Getting the inside track on inkjet at The Inkjet Conference

Fast-paced developments in inkjet engineering and nanoparticles will be among the topics highlighted at the inaugural Inkjet Conference, staged by ESMA, a leading, non-profit association in Europe for specialist printing manufacturers of screen and digital print technology, at the Swissôtel in Neuss (Düsseldorf), Germany, September 30 and October 1 2014.

The biggest Northern European Conference of its kind for this industry sector will feature exhibitors and speakers from Adphos, Agfa, Caldera, Chemstream, Colorgate, Fujifilm dimatix, Gew, GIS, Huntsman, Industrial Inkjet, KNF, Pall, Printaled, Sunchemical, Toyoink, Trident, Wifag, Xaar, Xennia and Indujet.

The two-day, multi-subject educational conference, sponsored by enabling partner drupa, has been developed specifically for inkjet equipment manufacturers. It will comprise of:

  • A focus on inkjet engineering and the placing of a million drops that will feature hardware and software aspects of equipment design and manufacture. Areas touched on will include fluid systems, precision engineering, printheads, digital asset management, RIPs, colour calibration and workflow.
  • Fluid and ink components will be reviewed such as nano particles, laboratory equipment, rheometers, particle size analyzers, conductive, aqueous and UV inks.
  • The academic track is open to all universities and non-commercial research institutes to present their work.

Peter Buttiens, CEO of ESMA comments: “Inkjet is becoming a mainstream print technology. Since the introduction of high resolution single pass printheads there have been more than five new inkjet presses announced every year. Whether labels, textiles, packaging, ceramics or graphics, inkjet print technology is bridging the differences between applications and positioning print into the manufacturing environment.”

He continues: “The conference aims to showcase technologies and spotting trends, enabling emerging technologies of printed electronics and functional fluids to learn and partner with those that have been successful in enabling volume adoption of inkjet technology in manufacturing applications.”

Among the topics under close scrutiny at the conference will be:

Ink Supply Systems: Fluid systems for recirculating inkjet systems have some demanding requirements. Experts will discuss fluid compatibility, the threat of copy/ fake components and avoiding pressure pulses by design and how low cost sensor technology removes some of the complexity involved in design.

Printheads: Several printhead manufactures expect to announce new products or product availability this year or early next year. There are presentations from the leading manufactures and the opportunity to meet and discuss your requirements face to face with the suppliers at this two day event.

UV LEDs, Bulbs, & IR systems: UV as a surface treatment – Bulbs and LED – Pinning, Drying and Curing. The more you understand about curing and drying the more complicated it becomes. Industry experts will discuss some of the lesser known details of UV and IR.

Datapath: An essential part of any systems is the glue that connects the image file to the printheads.

Inkjet Ink: Whether new market or new technology, experts on inkjet ink technology will discuss advancements in chemistry that provide for a broader range of inks for a broader range of applications. Aqueous for textiles and non-textiles, new ceramic inks, what is really meant by low migration and what do we expect to see next.

For latest news and updates on The Inkjet Conference or to register, log on to www.TheIJC.com

Hybrid Software launches Patchplanner : Flexo plate mounting workflow for AV Flexologic mounters

The latest product in Hybrid Software’s ever growing stable is Patchplanner, a flexo plate mounting workflow for AV Flexologic mounters that is being launched worldwide during July. Patchplanner takes a PDF digital design file and optimises the layout of the printed areas as individual elements, enabling a much smaller plate to be used than the actual size of the job. The software can then be used to control very accurately automatic cutting of the plate and repositioning of the parts on to a plastic carrier.

“Flexo plates are very expensive and anyone operating in a pre-press department will immediately see the attraction of Patchplanner,” says Jan Ruysschaert, managing director of Hybrid Software NV. “When producing something like a corrugated box, it is not unusual for only a tiny area to need to be printed even though the box itself may be large. Until now a great deal of manual work has generally been required in order to avoid using large flexo plates.

“What Patchplanner does is to separate those printed elements in the design file and relay them so they take up the least amount of space. This data is then used to expose the smallest plate possible using an imager such as a ThermoFlexX. We can then send the information to a cutting table, for example, a Zund machine. Patchplanner software will control the cutting pattern, resulting in fast and accurate cutting.

“Using an AV Flexologic system the plate would then be reassembled on to a plastic carrier ready for the printing press. The high level of automation offered by these systems, combined with their speed and precision, makes this an extremely cost effective method of producing flexo plates for this sort of job.

“We’ve designed Patchplanner to be effective and easy to use,” says Jan Ruysschaert. “The software offers cross platform support of standard web browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 8 – and will output XML e.g. ‘mom’ files with mounting mark coordinates automatically transferred to AV Flexologic’s Optimount.”

Hybrid Software was formed in 2007 as Hybrid Integration in Pennsylvania, North America. Today, there are offices in Belgium, Germany and Italy and distributors throughout many other countries. Hybrid’s Cloudflow suite and its integration products offer a new way of handling graphic production. These products are used in all areas of print, from packaging and labels to digital.

ThermoFlexX takes on the big boys

The culmination of more than two years of intense research and development, planning, investment and negotiations have resulted in Belgian manufacturer ThermoFlexX taking a leading global position in the field of flexographic imager technology. A string of recent partnership agreements, technical break throughs & distributor announcements means that the company is able to provide a total pre-press solution for the flexo market that rivals

“We moved into the flexo industry in 2012 following the purchase of a German manufacturer of flexo imagers called FlexoLaser and the acquisition of the brand name ‘Thermoflex’, a Kodak range that had ceased production,” says Christophe Lievens, director sales and marketing for basysPrint and ThermoFlexX. “Since that moment we’ve pushed forward the boundaries of what can be achieved in imager technology to such a degree that our products now incorporate several industry-leading features that are unique to ThermoFlexX.

“Our recently announced partnership with Hybrid Software has been augmented with working relationships with manufacturers Zund and AV Flexologic. This gives us the ability to handle with great effectiveness every element of flexo pre-press, from design, screening and ripping using Hybrid Software’s groundbreaking PACKZ and Cloudflow suites, exposure on a ThermoFlexX imager, cutting on Zund equipment and mounting via an AV Flexologic system.

“With the launch at the end of 2013 of the largest imager in our range – the ThermoFlexX 80 – we can now provide a flexo imager to meet the requirements of almost any printer or trade house. Our imagers are used by flexo customers as far apart as Australia and America, operating in fields as diverse as labels, packaging, folding carton and corrugated.

“The ThermoFlexX reputation for quality, flexibility and productivity has led to an increasing number of leading resellers around the world wanting to represent us. Appointments have recently been made in India, America and Portugal and we anticipate that over the next few months we will be announcing dealers in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

ThermoFlexX operates under the umbrella of Xeikon Prepress, which has been involved in CTP technology for 20 years. The 14,000 sq metre factory in Ypres employs 80 people and has three ‘lean’ production lines manufacturing basysPrint CTP systems for the commercial market, ThermoFlexX imagers for the flexo industry and, under an OEM agreement, newspaper CTP systems for Agfa. By bringing together experts in fields as diverse as optics, software, electronics and mechanical engineering, ThermoFlexX is able to test new ideas quickly, using its extensive research and development facilities and the wide ranging skills found in its comprehensive engineering department.

During the summer the company will create a technology centre and included amongst the new services will be the opportunity for customers to bring their own flexo plates and have them exposed and processed in the factory. ThermoFlexX experts will be on hand to examine results and provide advice on finished plates, which can be taken away by the customer to print test on their own presses.

“The flexo industry has made great strides over the last few years in terms of quality and market share, with several commercial litho printers installing flexo presses,” says Christophe Lievens. “In 2012 some people questioned the wisdom of Xeikon International, best known for producing digital presses, moving into the flexo industry with an imager product.

“However, the industry has proved to be largely resistant to the recession, which was one of the reasons for the move, and with Xeikon already a major player in key areas such as packaging and labels ThermoFlexX was immediately in an ideal position to serve these markets. We anticipate that the synergies between the two will become greater while our customers will increasingly be the same companies.”

The working relationships with Swiss manufacturer Zund and Dutch manufacturer AV Flexologic represent an important strategic move that provides customers with a host of new ways of improving efficiency in the pre-press department. For example, using a new software module from Hybrid Software called Patchplanner, it will be possible for customers to identify small printed items in a job that has large unprinted areas, a scenario commonly encountered in corrugated box production.

Instead of exposing an oversize flexo plate, most of which will not be required and therefore wasted, users can expose a small plate that can then be cut on the Zund equipment and the separate elements mounted on to a plastic carrier sheet on the AV Flexologic system. The high cost of plates and the degree of accuracy and automation offered by these systems makes this an extremely cost effective method of producing plates for large jobs that only need small areas printed.

“If you examine what is happening amongst imager manufacturers and the requirements of printers and trade houses on a global basis, it’s easy to see that there are some significant changes taking place. For instance, people today expect choice in everything they do and companies are much less willing to be locked into a deal with one consumable supplier and be denied the freedom of shopping for the best prices.

“At ThermoFlexX we listen carefully to our customers to ensure we provide them with the choices they need. It’s an extremely exciting time to be involved in the flexo industry, which is moving away from traditional analogue processes at an ever greater pace. Experts estimate that globally nearly 50 per cent of flexo plates will be produced digitally during 2014 and many predict a 4 per cent annual growth over the coming years.”

Xeikon Prepress, a division of Xeikon International, has a long lasting reputation of manufacturing high quality Computer to Plate equipment. For the flexographic market, Xeikon Prepress offers digital platemaking systems under the ThermoFlexX brand name. ThermoFlexX imagers provide high-resolution plate exposure combined with flexibility and productivity. The basysPrint CtCP systems offer flexibility combined with outstanding quality using conventional offset plates resulting in a very attractive ROI for commercial printers. The newspapers CtP products, manufactured and designed under an exclusive OEM agreement for Agfa Graphics, and commercialized under the names Polaris and Advantage, are considered as the reference in the newspaper industry.

Xeikon is also an innovator in digital printing technology. The company designs, develops and delivers web-fed digital color presses for label and packaging applications, document printing, as well as commercial printing. These presses utilize LED-array-based dry toner electrophotography, open workflow software and application specific-toners. All the Xeikon solutions are designed with the overarching principles of profitability, quality, flexibility and sustainability in mind. With these guiding principles and a deep, intimate knowledge of its customers, Xeikon continues to be one of the industry’s leading innovators of products and solutions.

Arrow Label Press 216 : The In-house Digital Label Printer for On Demand/Short-Runs

Arrow Digital has recently launched a new Machine to their ever growing product portfolio. The Arrow Label Press 216, an In-House Digital label printer for Short run jobs.
Customers have the flexibility to test run the benefits of the digital roll fed label printer at Arrow’s R&D Centre in Ahmedabad. At the demo centre, customers have the freedom to test print samples and gain hands-on experience of the machine. The Arrow label press 216, running at 9.3 meters a minute, is a desktop-sized digital roll label printer using a single-pass LED color laser engine. The system focuses on precise registration: the web station is designed for precise control of exact registration (± 0.3mm width-direction variance) with supporting gap sensors and black mark sensors. This enables the printer to support any pre-cut labels and post-processing of rotary die-cutters.
The Arrow Label press uses its own software and thereby conveniently and speedily processes the tasks that were impossible with analogue equipment. The Unique and Variable data that is entered into labels, such as QR codes, barcodes and numbering can be printed out immediately. Labels, of sizes up to 20.5-120 cm can be printed on various media such as art papers, certified PET, Gold/silver paper, Teslin etc. This Label Press is an ideal in-house solution for companies in various segments like Pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverages, FMCG, Healthcare, Cosmetics, Home appliances etc.
Along with the Digital Label Printer, Arrow has also launched a Label finisher – making it the complete label finishing system. This is the start to many new and exciting products in the Arrow family. Arrow Digital, with our decades of experience and knowledge of packaging, coatings, labelling, and most importantly Inkjets in general; gives you a partner unparalleled in this industry.
Arrow/Grace paper are the pioneers in India and one of the first to manufacture self-adhesive materials in the 1970s. We know labels, labelling and packaging; and now Arrow is the leader in digital printing technologies in various segments – with a multi crore facility for trials, R&D and hands on training in Ahmedabad and offices in all major metros – we are here 24/7/365 to support our customers. In today’s market situation; creating new and saving existing good customers is the key to future success and growth.

For more details, contact – sohel@arrow-digital.com