At the upcoming trade shows in the next few weeks, Belgian company Xeikon will be presenting sustainable inks for the Panther series, a hybrid press solution and more to the public. By Sabine Slaughter
After presenting the TITON technology and metal printing on Xeikon digital presses at the Xeikon Café in spring, the company will be presenting further new and advanced developments for the label industry in the next few weeks.
The Panther 2.0 series can now print with one hundred per cent LED inks, the PantherCure LED inks. This is a new family of inks for use with Panther technology. The PantherCure LED inks feature new waveforms, software and optimised screening.
The advantages here are, for example, a wide range of applications. Due to the lower temperature, less heat is added to the substrate. As a result, more sensitive, heat-sensitive media can also be printed. By means of a water-based cooling process, other substrates can be used.
The colour gamut has also been extended to accommodate more brand colours. In addition, a new screening system ensures improved image quality. This enables uniform UV curing over the entire print.
UV LED is sustainable
LEDs are not only more environmentally friendly but also offer other advantages, including energy savings, ten per cent longer diode life, no VOCs like those produced by UV lamps, and more. Downtime and warm-up times are also eliminated as the press is ready for immediate use. The deep curing of the LED light results in better adhesion of the ink to the substrate. Furthermore, the combination of these new elements (colour, screening, waveforms, software) reduces ink consumption by an average of 30 per cent, depending on the content of the job.
Launched in 2017, Panther technology is based on UV inkjet technology and is the most cost-effective technology for certain end-user markets focused on labels in various industries such as chemical, shelf-life, cosmetics and premium beer labels. All these applications benefit from a certain level of durability such as scratch, scuff and abrasion resistance as well as a glossy feel. UV inks meet all these requirements. Now these presses are available with the newer UV LED technology.
"We already supply LED UV inks for the Xeikon Jetrion base today, so the introduction of UV LED inks was the next logical step for our Panther technology. Just last year we introduced a new generation of presses, the successors to the Xeikon PX2000 and Xeikon PX3000, reaffirming our commitment to the label market and the UV inkjet label business," explains Filip Weymans, Xeikon's VP of global marketing. Weymans continues, "Xeikon is known for its determined sustainability programme and the PantherCure UV LED series contributes to these goals.
The new inks will be available on newly manufactured Xeikon PX3300 and Xeikon PX2200 from October 2022. From 2023, customers of the Panther Press' predecessor models, the Xeikon PX3000 and PX2000, will be able to upgrade locally.
"Recent years have shown that innovative companies with "future-proof" products are the ones that offer customers the best options for application selection and the highest OEE to secure their business goals," Filip Weymans continues. "Upgrading existing equipment with new innovations protects customers' investments. This is a perfect example of Xeikon being market flexible and customer focused."
Hybrid and converting presses
Hybrid presses can be defined as label presses that incorporate two or more printing processes (digital and conventional) in series with finishing units (varnishing, spot colour printing, cutting, die-cutting and various finishing techniques). Hybrid solutions benefit label printers and converters running medium to long runs with limited variations in finishing (die-cutting, cutting) and/or the need to add conventionally produced features, e.g. spot varnishing, cold foil.
Individuality as a communication feature
Currently, standalone digital presses and standalone finishing equipment make up the majority of the market. New solutions will be needed to expand the growth potential of digital printing. This will inevitably lead to conventional print products being transferred to digital production through cost optimisation. Especially larger quantities of items with the same die-cut shape, full-colour jobs that contain a static finishing element come to mind here. These can be printed more effectively with a conventional process and then finished with digital full-colour printing. Market trends show that luxury brands in particular are benefiting from the offerings of print service providers: shorter runs, more variants and variations, variable text or graphics and personalisation that allow much greater creative freedom. Nevertheless, they do not want to do without the brand identity that can be visualised through finishing elements. Similar to luxury brands, advertising brands are also looking for better ways to connect with consumers through the use of e-commerce.
For this reason, Xeikon is launching a fully digital hybrid solution based on a Cheetah or Panther series digital press, the recently developed Xeikon Label Converting Unit (LCU) and the Xeikon X-800 Digital Front-End. This solution can be configured according to the needs of the converter, making it a powerful production system that can increase productivity while giving print service providers complete flexibility to meet their customers' needs.
From substrate to finished label, a complete production process is realised in one pass. Waste and makeready time are reduced and additional jobs can be taken on.
"At Xeikon, we take our customers' input seriously. Our solutions are connected to the cloud and provide us with a lot of data about the performance of the equipment. This enables more automation in combining production runs to increase efficiency," explains Filip Weymans, VP of Marketing at Xeikon. "That's why, in addition to presses, we are developing fully digital converting and finishing products such as the Xeikon LCU, which can be configured into hybrid print and finishing solutions."
Xeikon's hybrid solutions can incorporate both Xeikon's Cheetah (dry toner) and Panther (UV inkjet) technology, so this offering can cover all end-uses.
Dry toner is the proven technology for all applications that require compliance with high food safety standards while delivering the highest, matte quality and achieving high quality on standard natural paper substrates (wine and spirits). Today, second-generation Cheetah technology is used in Xeikon's current digital dry toner presses.
"Some of our customers refer to a hybrid solution as the best of both worlds," Filip Weymans continues, "All developments at Xeikon fit our mantra of digitising label manufacturing with the goal of enabling label converters to develop a profitable and sustainable, future-proof business."
At Labelexpo Americas, the new hybrid printing solution, based on the Xeikon PX3300 (Panther) will be presented to the public.
At Corrugated Week in San Antonio, the company will also showcase IDERA, a digital solution platform for high-quality corrugated packaging. IDERA combines Xeikon's decades of digital transformation experience with Flint Group's corrugated expertise and manufacturing presence to deliver a brand new digital post-print technology. This makes corrugated printing simple, adaptable and sustainable.
"IDERA is the perfect choice for industrial, food-safe, compliant and water-based post-print inkjet printing. It is a scalable investment model that offers a wide range of productivity and print quality modes and can be commissioned on-site by Xeikon. Crucially, we control every aspect of IDERA, which helps converters control their operating costs and remain competitive," said Sebastien Stabel, Market Segment Manager, Carton Packaging at Xeikon.
"As a fully integrated and comprehensive digital platform, IDERA makes corrugated packaging simple, adaptable and sustainable, so converters can future-proof their operations and be ready for the inevitable disruption of the current market structure," explains Stabel.