Like the rest of the printed packaging market the demands on labels increase year on year. Core designs change more quickly as brands battle for customer attention and market share. Brand extensions and event marketing proliferate. As a result label converters need to react quickly to retailer needs by delivering small, medium and large volumes of labels,in multiple versions, on-demand, in high quality and cost-effectively.
Brands want added impact through texture, brighter colours, metallic effect and eye-catching use of varnishes that add a slick silk or a glitzy gloss. There’s also a burgeoning market of SME retailers and artisan producers who want their brand, and by extension their labels, to punch above their weight. They want their labels to convey luxury but without a luxury price tag.
Just as in so many other aspects of life so it is in label printing, digital technology is coming to the rescue with tools that deliver the magic trio of speed, quality and flexibility.
HORSES FOR COURSES
Digital label printing is liberating the label industry and converters are starting to invest in the technology to add digital expertise alongside their existing analogue to take advantage of new market opportunities. At Epson we recognise that the label industry has very diverse needs and that is why we offer two different digital presses using completely different inks – the only manufacturer to do so.
The Epson SurePress L-4033AW 7-colour, inkjet digital label press is the only aqueous inkjet digital label press on the market and is perfect for premium quality, short-run labels, especially on ‘off the shelf’ uncoated, textured, clear and metallic substrates with no special coatings, priming or pre-treatment. To give a wide colour gamut for precise colour matching and accurate reproduction of brand spot/speciality colours, this press uses our SurePress AQ ink-set which includes green, orange and white inks.
Alternatively, the SurePress L-6034VW is a higher productivity, single-pass press for short to medium label volumes. This press uses UV-curable inks, and prints onto all standard label materials, including paper and films. They cure instantly so labels can be re-reeled or finished immediately and are robust with high abrasion, chemical and water resistance.
The press features Epson’s latest innovative PrecisionCore single-pass full-width printheads, UV inks and web transport, all designed and optimised for high reliability leading to maximum throughput. This press widens the range of substrates that can be UV-printed to include thin heat-sensitive PP (polypropylene) and PE (polyethylene) due to the low energy LUV LED lamps employed in the press for pinning and curing. UV-curable inks can be printed onto virtually any substrate and they cure instantly so labels can be re-reeled or finished immediately. LED cured UV inks have high abrasion, chemical and water resistance characteristics on plastic or paper substrates.
The SurePress L-6034VW also offers digital varnishing, with a choice of matt or gloss finish either as a flood or spot coating. Applied as part of the print process this digital varnish feature can be used to create eye catching contrasting gloss/matte areas on labels to produce a range of creative effects to highlight and enhance the look and feel of labels. When used as a flood coating, the UV-cured varnish forms a tough protective coating. Alternatively, the clear varnish can also be used as a security feature, producing near-invisible codes that are hard to counterfeit.
GETTING IT WHITE
Common to both the Epson digital label presses is the option of very opaque white ink; a key feature to ensure the presses can address the widest range of label applications. On the SurePress L-4033AW the white can even be printed first or last to deliver a wide range of effects on both opaque and transparent substrates.
For example with metallised substrates by printing white over the majority of the design and leaving some ‘holes’ produces an effect that resembles foiling, but without the expensive set up and materials. Unlike foiling, it can be varied, so individual labels or batches of labels can be different.
Epson’s digital label presses offer the best of both worlds. They can combine the digital capability to produce small runs cost-effectively and on-demand with the added value of traditional production such as, varnish, special colours, expanded gamut and white ink. Taken together that delivers more appealing products at affordable prices on a wider range of materials.