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i-Sub delivers 3.2m Agfa and Zünd machines to Digital Wordcrafts

i-Sub has announced that Leicester-based print company, Digital Wordcrafts, has purchased an Agfa Anapurna H3200i LED UV printer and a Zünd G3 XL3200 digital flatbed cutter. The Agfa is replacing Digital Wordcrafts’ VUTEk printers and the Zünd G3 is replacing two smaller Zünd machines.

Digital Wordcrafts was founded in 1988 and provides a complete range of printing and signage solutions to companies across the UK. They specialise in building long-term relationships with customers that encompass all their printing and display requirements. Managing Director, Adrian Bingley, says: “As an example, one of our major customers is health food retail chain, Holland & Barrett. We provide all the internal graphics for their stores throughout the country as well as their external fascias and illuminated and projected signage. Our business is full service printing and display, with both large and small format services available.”

The relationship between i-Sub and Digital Wordcrafts goes back more than 15 years. “For many years i-Sub has provided all our large format Mimaki solvent machines and we have always been very happy with their service and support,” says Bingley. “We began with a 1.3m Mimaki and as demand grew, so did the width of our printers and ultimately we ended up with a 2.6m Mimaki JV34 and a 3.2m JV5. Now we have two 1.6m and one 1.3m Mimaki JV150 machines, all of which are serving us very well. The Agfa Anapurna has primarily been purchased to replace our VUTEk machine and at 3.2m wide, this satisfies all our print requirements.”

The Agfa Anapurna H3200i LEDUV is a belt-driven hybrid machine that can handle all types of rigid sheet materials up to 3.2m wide, and with the ability to print a 10’ x 5’ (3000mm x 1500mm) sheets landscape, productivity is impressive. Roll media is available up to 3.2m wide, both in a single-roll and a dual-roll configuration. Thanks to the LED UV curing it supports the widest media mix in the market at all print quality levels. The printer offers both high throughput and high print quality and has white inks as standard thus increasing the range of possible applications.

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Fujifilm Launches Acuity LED 1600R for Large Format Graphic Display Market

Fujifilm announced the release of a new machine in its Acuity series, the Acuity LED 1600R. This dedicated roll-to-roll printer is optimized for four-color CYMK printing, but otherwise shares all the benefits in quality and performance of the successful Acuity LED 1600 II hybrid model. The first public demonstration of this new model will take place at C!Print Lyon Feb. 6-8, 2018 on the Fujifilm stand. It will be commercially available on March 1.

Exclusive to Fujifilm and featuring Dimatix Q-class industrial print heads, the Acuity LED 1600R offers four channels, with the option of a modular upgrade in the field up to eight channels. Like the Acuity LED 1600 II, it offers productivity of up to 33m² per hour.

Producing low levels of heat and requiring lower ink volumes and less power than similar machines on the market, the newest member of the Acuity range has instant start-up, long-life LED UV lamps, no ozone or VOC emissions and only one consumable – the ink.

That ink is the new Uvijet RL ink range, which is available in CMYK and CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta. A modular upgrade option to include white is available, with an option for up to eight channels to include clear ink, also being added later in the year. Designed for roll media, Uvijet RL is manufactured by Fujifilm Specialty Ink Systems in the UK, and combined with the 1600R’s Fujifilm patented LED curing system and Dimatix print heads, it delivers near-photographic print quality at an impressive speed, the company said.

“Fujifilm has established a strong business with the Acuity LED 1600 and then the Acuity LED 1600 II, with close to 1000 installations globally,” said Tudor Morgan, segment manager, Sign & Display at Fujifilm Graphic Systems Europe. “To build on this success, we are now offering an equally robust, lower-cost model in the Acuity LED 1600R that can provide a great investment opportunity for printers looking to produce high quality, large format display work – all without compromising on the excellent performance characteristics that have gained the Acuity LED 1600 II such a formidable reputation.”

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Realisaprint.com Becomes First Printer in France to Invest in the AccurioJet KM-1 from Konica Minolta

Konica Minolta formalised the first sale in France of its B2+digital inkjet press, the AccurioJet KM-1, to Realisaprint.com printers. This new deal reinforces its existing partnership with Realisaprint.com, an ambassador for Konica Minolta and the first reference site for Southern Europe.

The AccurioJet KM-1 integrates easily into offset and digital environments and offers productivity of up to 3,000 sheets an hour. Its numerous advantages include the patented “dot freeze” LED UV-cured ink technology, guaranteeing perfect colour registration and outstanding image stability. The AccurioJet KM-1 offers immense flexibility, not least through its unique ability to produce duplex prints that come off the press and go straight to finishing. Registration accuracy is guaranteed by using the same gripper-to-gripper technology used in offset.

Its ability to handle a wide variety of media, including coated and uncoated, offset, textured, canvas and PVC from 60 to 600 microns thick without pretreatment, in particular, was one of the reasons Realisaprint.com chose this press. The LED (UV) printing operation intends to immediately finish the sheets. The colorimetric stability associated with inkjet production and the cost efficiency for short runs also justified Realisaprint.com’s decision. “Being the first company in France to buy the AccurioJet KM-1 reinforces our reputation as pioneers and strengthens our expertise in the graphics chain, allowing us to support our customers better in post-print processes,” emphasised Rémy Barelli, co-founder of Realisaprint.com.

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Finding Opportunities in Industrial Printing Applications

Is there a business opportunity for the commercial printing segment in industrial printing applications? The most reliable answer at this point is a definite maybe. But, a market that’s been described by many pundits as “ready to pop for a long time” is definitely worth exploring.

When printing stops being printing for its own sake, it’s time to recognize it for what it actually is: industrial printing.

Another way to delineate industrial printing is by application. Broadly speaking, points out Josh Hope, senior manager of 3D Printing & Engineering Projects, Mimaki USA, industrial printing is putting ink onto “anything that isn’t paper,” but often in small batches that don’t scale up to true “industrial” quantities. He advises printers to look at the printable objects they are outsourcing for clues to the kinds of industrial printing they might be able to do in-house.

At Fujifilm Dimatix, says Timothy Rosario, senior project manager, Fujifilm Inkjet Technology, “we define ‘industrial printing’ by the various substrates we are printing on, including sandpaper, waterproof seam tape, cement board, drywall, house wrap and insulation.” This gives a sense of the role industrial printing can play in non-traditional markets such as homebuilding, where Fujifilm Dimatix has introduced an LED-UV solution, the StarFire SG1024 industrial inkjet printing system, for printing construction materials.

Flatbed UV inkjet printers that can accommodate solid objects, as well as flat substrates, work best. Hope says that Mimaki’s UJF Mark II (MkII) Series LED-UV tabletop printers are tailor-made for late-stage customization of phone cases, USB drives, skateboards and other items produced in small batches. With its 4˝ inkjet head height, the Ricoh Pro T7210 UV flatbed — the device that printed cinder blocks at the SGIA Expo — has been used to image bar stool seats and guitars, according to Dollard.

Unlike in traditional production, the printing isn’t the dominant technique, but one of a number of steps in a complex sequence of events. In industrial printing, “print adds value within a bigger process,” says Tom Molamphy, business development manager of the Industrial Inkjet Ink Div. at Agfa Graphics.

Molamphy points out that while there are industrial applications for Agfa devices such as the Jeti Tauro hybrid LED-UV inkjet printer, wide-format equipment generally isn’t geared for the high-speed, single-pass performance that industrial printing on an industrial scale requires. As a supplier of industrial inks, Agfa is working with printhead manufacturers and system developers to push wide-format inkjet further in this direction.

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Azonprinter and Modico expand their collaboration to North America

Azon Matrix UV-LED Wide Format Inkjet Printer

Azonprinter, a Croatia-based worldwide manufacturer of digital inkjet solutions and Modico U.S., a leader in production and distribution of stamping and marking products, have expanded their cooperation and strengthened their presence in the North American market. After years of collaboration in Europe, Azon and Modico U.S. began demonstrating the Matrix series of wide-format flatbed digital inkjet printers at tradeshows in North America starting in the fall of 2017.

The award-winning Azon Matrix UV series offers UV-LED inkjet printing solutions with optional bed sizes of 22.4” x 47.2”, 22.4” x 70.9” and 42.1” x 94.5” – which are capable of handling heavy materials up to 220 lbs. for indoor, outdoor and industrial applications. The series extends productivity and creativity by printing directly onto any type of material – such as PET, ABS, polycarbonate, TPU, PVC, wood, stone, glass, canvas, ceramic, aluminum and leather, said the OEM. The series also features monoblock construction for “unmatched” rigidity and durability, which offers numerous advantages – including easy relocation of the printer to optimize printing and production needs. Its high-precision leadscrew technology provides greater reliability and repeatability, as well as increased performance and accuracy.

The Matrix’s Dual-Security mode offers automatic thickness detection and protects the printheads from unseen damage, while its powerful zoned vacuum system keeps materials flat and allows printing on soft and thin substrates “with remarkable precision.” In order to maintain accurate, high-quality printing even during long production runs, Azonprinter incorporated six specially designed 500-ml bulk ink tanks with monitoring sensors which are built to meet the demands of high-volume operations. Azon Matrix is ideal for sign makers, printing houses, commercial printers, gift stores and photographers. Its extremely high resolution of 2880 dpi is ideal for high-volume output while maintaining outstanding imaging quality. The versatility of white ink as a base for high-density CMYK layered printing  can delivers unusual and creative textures on all materials. The Azon Rotax adapter for cylindrical printing further expands printing possibilities.

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Digital Printers and Presses

Options abound in today’s ever-changing label industry.

A recent study conducted by label industry market research firm LPC, Inc., determined that new digital press installations in North America are growing at 11.9% per year. The firm estimates the rate of new conventional press installations are contracting at an annual 8-9% clip. Taking into account these forcasted rates, LPC believes that in the year 2020, one in four new label presses sold in the US and Canada will be conventional, and three out of four will be digital.  Times sure have changed.

A fact that has emerged since the proliferation of digital printing, is that digital technology adoption is not one size-fits-all. What is a great fit for one label company may vastly differ from others. Specialization, location, finishing needs and markets served all play key roles in digital press adoption decisions.

Whether it’s EP or inkjet, a desktop printer for a few thousand dollars, or a hybrid production class press with a 7-figure pricetag, there have never been more options for both first-time digital technology adopters or longtime users with multiple machines. Some products target brand owners, suggesting they’d benefit from producing labels themselves. Some are entry-level priced for the small to medium sized label company. Others are even designed with speed in mind to compete with flexo operations.

There are many, many vendors now, with some offering several different machines. While the information that follows is not all-inclusive, it’s L&NW’s attempt to share the capabilities, benefits and specifications of digital and hybrid label printers and presses on the market today. Suppliers appear in alphabetical order.

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UV LED Technology Best Option for Low-Migration Printing

Phoseon Technology believes it’s just a matter of time before UV LED cured low-migration inks, coatings and adhesives are widely adopted across global markets.

Low migration is a term used to describe the entire process of applying and curing specially formulated inks used in packaging such that there is minimal to no migration through the packaging materials and into the product. Low migration — also known as food safe process — is not exclusive to food packaging; it also extends to other products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and pet products where uncured or migrating inks can negatively impact the product’s composition or odor.

Since 2004, EU Framework Regulation EC 1935/2004 requires low migration for all food packaging. While there are a variety of processes that can reduce migration levels, Phoseon Technology’s revolutionary UV-LED curing technology offers superior process stability and consistency, both top requirements for low-migration printing.

“The UV output of LED curing equipment is much more stable over time compared with conventional mercury based systems. This results in greater process control when used to crosslink inks, coatings and adhesives in low-migration processes,” said Jennifer Heathcote*, global business development manager at Phoseon Technology.

UV LED curing is becoming increasingly more viable for decorating applications spanning printed labels, flexible and shrink films, rigid containers, and carton and corrugated board. In addition to its quick-drying capabilities, UV LED curing creates less heat transfer to the substrate, thereby, eliminating or significantly reducing any damage to the print surface.

“That’s a critical benefit, especially when printing on heat-sensitive plastic films often used in food packaging,” said Heathcote.

Heathcote notes that while there are upfront costs to switch to UV LED curing for food safe process printing, companies often quickly recoup their investment. UV LED curing technology has no moving or consumable parts which significantly reduces down-time for maintenance and repairs. UV LED systems last longer and can reduce energy consumption by up to 70 percent compared with traditional arc lamps. In addition, UV LED curing does not contain mercury, which is used in conventional lamps, making for a safer environment and workplace.

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Direct-printed PET Bottles Certified rPET Recyclable

The global digital printing market for packaging is anticipated to expand at a steady rate, reaching yearly growth close to 11% for 2017-2021, according to research firm Technavio (London).

We’re seeing it used for applications that are largely if not essentially wholly devoted to printing onto flexible material substrates such as labels and rigid to semi-rigid surfaces including for corrugated cases and also paperboard folding cartons.

There’s also been a unique method of direct digital print onto rigid containers, the Direct Print Powered by KHS digital printing process, specifically for PET bottles. I’ve covered the no-label process as an editor on sister publication Packaging Digest as a breakthrough, efficient and source-reducing technology for bottling operations. It’s important to point out that labels, particularly shrink film labels, may be problematic for recycling in addition to the source reduction gains of their elimination.

It turns out there’s an angle of interest for PlasticsToday readers, too: the recyclability of these digitally-printed bottles, which was first certified by the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP) in 2013, has now been reconfirmed as having no negative impact on rPET, making it officially approved for bottle-to-bottle PET recycling.

“The washing water must not be contaminated during the recycling process,” explains Martin Schach, head of the Printing Technology Department at KHS GmbH (Dortmund, Germany). “The ink must also not deposit itself on the crushed PET bottles.”

KHS developed a digital printing process with low-migration, LED UV-curing inks for the food-safe decoration of PET bottles where the print reliably flakes off during the recycling process.

Current laboratory tests for the Belgium market, where recycled PET bottles were examined for chemical residues in random checks, confirm the safeness of the process in which printed PET bottles from customer Martens Brouwerij brewery had been fed into the recycling chain. In 2015 the Belgium brewery was the first beverage producer to launch PET bottles with Direct Print Powered by KHS to market and make use of the technology, which has subsequently been further developed for the customer. These further developments include a higher print quality and new forms of decoration, resulting in a level of flexibility that enables individualized print on separate bottles such as the use of different motifs.

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Clearing Confusion When Comparing UV LED Curing Systems

Understanding equipment specifications and how to properly measure output can help narrow web printers make better decisions.

Due to a lack of UV equipment specification standards and the need for different radiometry measurement devices, label and flexible packaging producers may be confused when comparing different UV LED curing systems. Understanding the UV LED equipment specifications and how to properly measure UV LED output can help flexographic and narrow web end users make legitimate comparisons and better decisions when choosing a UV LED curing system.

End users often compare UV LED curing systems based on electrical power input, radiant power output, and the efficiency calculated from them. However, what is useful for an optimal industrial process, such as the UV curing of label and flexible packaging inks, overprint varnishes or laminating adhesives, is information and comparison values about the intensity, homogeneity, and distribution of the UV radiation onto the substrate. Unfortunately, UV LED equipment specifications are not standardized and often imprecise. In addition, there are no standards for radiometry measuring equipment specifications and test methods, and little knowledge of what measurements are important for accurate comparison of UV LED curing systems and their production performance.

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LED-UV: The Cure for What Ails You?

Ultraviolet (UV) inks and coatings have been a growing technology for many years now, and the latest iteration is LED curing. “LED curing is growing faster than any other type of curing technology across all printing technologies,” says Marco Boer, Vice President of I.T. Strategies, and author of the new PRIMIR study, Adoption of LED UV Curing in Printing.

The benefits of LED curing are clear: it’s more productive, more efficient, and more cost effective than traditional ink chemistries, but the value of LED curing is highly dependent upon the specific print technology, be it offset, flexo, or inkjet. There are also important variations by application, and even the geographical region where it is deployed.

According to the study, new sheetfed offset and flexo press sales are tipping in favor of LED-curable ink technology, and retrofits of conventional ink presses are growing even faster. “LED curing technology is still in the early stages of development in terms of its future potential,” says Boer. “The technology is well-proven after seven years, but the upside on wider availability of LED-UV curable inks and coatings remains great.”