Last updateMon, 01 Feb 2021 12pm

Digital label printing series – entering a new era (1)

In this first article in a new series, we ask if digital label printing can combine high speed and productivity with the highest quality printing.
Digital printing has transformed label production over the last decade, but at BOBST, we believe that we are at the tipping point of another new chapter.

The labels sector has been a pioneer for digital printing, and digital technology is now widely utilized and accepted. According to analysts, more than 30% of labels were produced digitally in 2020. Converters value the lack of plates and minimal set-up. At the same time, they face the question that has always followed digital print production – does it really measure up to the quality of conventional flexo? Is digital only really suitable for short runs?
The conventional viewpoint is that flexo is best for high volume and/or high complexity and digital presses are suitable for short runs with 4 colors. Up until now, this has been generally true, but this is changing as digital technology continues to progress.
To help assess just how far digital printing has progressed, we performed a practical real live test using the Mouvent LB702-UV equipped with 6 colors and white.
In a single 8-hour shift with just 1 operator, it fulfilled a total of 21 separated jobs using 4 to 6 colors (some with white ink) on 4 different substrates (PP, PPE, transparent and metallized).
In total, 13 2,000-meter rolls were used, totaling 26 kilometers of substrates and delivering nearly 1.3 million labels.
So, what did we learn?
Printing speeds
Average production speed was 72 meters per minute
Digital printing can print high opaque white (70% opacity) at high-speed -
5 jobs were printed using CMYKOV + white at 45 lm per minute
Total machine setup time was 1 hour 51 minutes – with 4 different substrates
(PP, PPE, Transparent and metallized), 2 different widths and 13 substrate reel changes
Average stop time for standard substrate changes was only 5 minutes 30 seconds
1 stop was required for changing an ink container, which took 2 minutes
In short, we now know that Bobst Group digital printing can cope with high volume printing and high quality at the same time, opening a new era for digital printing.
What does it mean for converters?
The Bobst Group Label presses Mouvent LB702-UV can:
Combine high quality with high productivity
Replace many existing low speed digital presses
Provide new production capacities in existing operations
Offer a serious and robust solution for high volume production
The traditional view of digital is changing. BOBST digital printing is challenging conventional wisdom and opening new opportunities for converters willing to embark on the digitalization of label production.
We believe that the BOBST digital technology deployed in the Mouvent LB702-UV is heralding a new era in label digital printing. Our vision is to shape the future of packaging production. While we did not participate in the first digital revolution for labels, we are fully invested in the second one – you can count on BOBST.
Finally, it is important to remember that conventional flexo will remain an important technology. Many long and/or complex jobs will still require flexo technology, and flexo can be combined with digital in ingenious ways.




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