Labelexpo Americas 2012 offered plenty of new developments for the label and narrow web market, and ink manufacturers were on hand to showcase new products and meet with attendees.
Sun Chemical introduced a wide range of solutions for the narrow web, tag and label market during Labelexpo, including its Solaris System, a complete line of inks and coatings for virtually all narrow web applications, including self-adhesive and in-mold labels to wrap arounds, shrink sleeves, tubes and food and pharmaceutical packaging.
Sun Chemical exhibited a variety of security ink solutions including Verigard, an infrared coding solution that adds taggants to inks, varnishes or coatings. SunGraphics high definition flexographic plate technology, with Esko HD software and CDI high resolution imaging, was on display, and Sun Chemical also showcased a GFI Mx12 Hybrid Dispenser, which the company said can lower a customer’s ink spend by 45%.
“We have put together a value proposition for the label and narrow web market, and it is unique to fill all of one’s needs from one place,” said Charles Murray, president, North American Inks, Sun Chemical. “We are probably one of the few companies that can provide the entire range of inks, and we now have a global product range. Global customers want one name for products. We have our plate business, Sun Branding Solutions, security and GFI Innovations dispensing system.
“We are serious about the market,” Mr. Murray added. “Our intention is to be the major player in this market, and people are now learning what we can do for them.”
Flint Group Narrow Web displayed a wide variety of new products for Labelexpo Americas 2012, beginning with EkoCure high performance flexo and rotary screen inks for UV LED curing. The first commercially available UV LED inks designed for combination print, EkoCure offer economic and environmental benefits.
“I challenge you to find something that is more innovative than UV LED at this show,” said Tom Hammer, director of product portfolio, Flint Group. “EkoCure offers less downtime, better runnability and reduces energy consumption. The time is now to get into this technology. We believe it is a game changer. We are doing an ROI model at a customer to show where the savings come from.”
Flint Group is working closely with Phoseon on its EkoCure UV LED system.
“We introduced our new series of lamps that are high energy, which allows them to run at higher speeds,” Chad Taggard, Phoseon’s vice president of marketing and business development, noted. “There is no need for a chiller lamp, so you can run shrink films. Our long-term goal is to show productivity gains at a lower cost.”
Flint Group Narrow Web also exhibited CombiScreen, a silicone-free UV rotary screen ink that is ideal combination printing, and held its North American launch of Flexocure ANCORA, a low migration UV flexo ink designed for food packaging.
“Flint Group has demonstrated its commitment to the narrow web market and this will continue,” said Doug Aldred, president, Packaging and Narrow Web Division, Europe and North America for Flint Group.
“Label and narrow web is a good market,” added Mike Buystedt, Flint Group’s director of sales, Midwest. “The PSA market has matured, and label converters are converging into packaging and mid-web. Globally, Flint Group is the largest supplier in the label ink market. Some presses have all of the printing processes on them, and we have all of these technologies, whether it is offset, flexo gravure or rotary screen.
“We have the first-ever LED curing inks for flexo and rotary screen, running on Mark Andy and DMS presses at the show,” Mr. Buystedt added. “The new systems by Phoseon have the power to cure at more than 450 feet per minute. We have a beta site up and running. I would think that in 10 years, LED will dominate the UV market, as they use 50% less energy, don’t require bulbs and don’t release ozone.”
INX International Ink Co. introduce the NW140 UV digital narrow web press, which features inline laser cutting from Spartanics, during Labelexpo. The NW140 press also features 14 Xaar 1001 printheads, an air-cooled UV-LED pinning system from Integration Technology Ltd., and Phoseon’s FireLine 225 high efficiency, water-cooled UV-LED curing system.
“We are providing technology for other companies through our JetINX print engine” said Jim Lambert, vice president and general manager – Digital Division of INX International Ink Co. “We are partnering with Spartanics. They understand material handling better than anybody, and we understand print engines and ink. It makes for a good partnership. We already have a lot of commercial products in the market.
“Reaction has been very good,” Mr. Lambert added. “We are already taking orders for the new NW140 printer, which has an entry level price point. This show has been a true buying show, and people are coming to us to discuss price and closing.”
INX International Ink Co. also launched its AquaTech ION water-based label ink systems, as well as advances in LED, low migration and high shrink inks in its INXFlex line of UV flexo inks.
“Our AquaTech Ion ink moves forward from our AquaTech ink, using all new materials,” said Harty Kranz, national account manager, INX International Ink. “It has increased color strength, transfers better, gets improved mileage and prints cleaner. We are already running at customers and have had success everywhere.”
Siegwerk’s 2010 acquisition of Environmental Inks & Coatings gave the company a strong position in the water-based ink market.
“We did statistical analysis on the label and narrow web market when we acquired EIC,” said Dave Cox, vice president of narrow web for Siegwerk. “EIC has a big footprint in water-based inks and coatings, and we have a good footprint in UV. We see opportunities for growth in UV flexo and offset, and also see interest among our customers in in-mold labels, low migration inks and sleeves.”
Mr. Cox noted that opportunities are there for low migration inks, although the market is still developing.
“Low migration hasn’t taken off completely yet due to higher pricing and user misconceptions, but there is a lot of opportunity there,” Mr. Cox added. “We have the technology to do all of these things already. Siegwerk has a facility for producing low migration inks in Spain, and are adapting the old Morganton, NC facility to produce low migration inks in the U.S. I expect prices to come down and sales volume to go up.”
George Sickinger, president and CEO of Color Resolutions International (CRI) noted that the label and narrow web market is a strong one, but it takes time to develop business.
“Label and narrow web printers select their ink supplier by their niche, and don’t tend to consolidate their ink purchases to a single ink supplier,” Mr. Sickinger said. “There is a lot of loyalty to suppliers, and I think there are opportunities in the market.”
Kurt Hudson, director of new business development for ACTEGA WIT, said that the ability of label and narrow web converters to adapt to new markets is helping to spur growth.
“Label and narrow web is a fantastic market,” said Mr. Hudson. “Narrow web printers are very adaptable, and they can do so much more with the new presses. Label converters are diversifying, printing sleeves, tubes and pouches with the same equipment, and our natural ability to diversify provides us protection.
“You have to balance your portfolio with value-added offers,” Mr. Hudson added. “We can help our customers with their cost drivers, reducing their amount of waste with products that give them an edge. They learn to trust that you will provide them with the solution that will be best for them and the markets they are entering.”
Mr. Hudson noted that ACTEGA WIT is seeing strong potential in digital printing.
“We have opportunities in digital,” Mr. Hudson said. “In fact, we embrace it. It’s going to happen, and we have developed an entire digital support product line, including coatings, primers and adhesives. We are looking at ways to develop products that can improved the digital printing process, and we are getting so much traction that area.”
EFI unveiled at Labelexpo the new Jetrion 4900M UV digital inkjet printing system, combining the performance of EFI's existing family of Jetrion UV digital presses with the flexibility of industrial inline web finishing. EFI is also announcing the 4900M-330, which features a 13-inch print width for increased productivity, profitability and an expanded range of applications.
“Our mission is to revolutionize the packaging and label markets, and digital is a fantastic way to print labels,” said Guy Gecht, EFI’s CEO.
“Digital technology is still an emerging opportunity,” said Sean Skelly, vice president and general manager of EFI Jetrion. “The label and packaging market has and will continue to grow, and we believe that the 4900M’s modular platform will position label converters to address head-on today’s challenges while providing an upgradable platform for business growth as the label market continues to evolve from analog to digital. We listen to our customers, and the wider form factor at 13 inches is a direct response to customer feedback and market demand. We are very excited to be bringing both of these new offerings to Labelexpo.”
Daryl Collins, vice president, national sales and regional operations for Wikoff Color, noted that he sees so much more film being printed now.
“If we are given an opportunity to do something, that’s where we shine,” Mr. Collins said. “This is a good market for us and it is growing. We do well in wine labels and pharmaceutical packaging. We do a lot of water-based flexo inks and quite a bit of offset. We also are working in UV flexo and specialty products. There is a lot of interest in specialty products on the flexo side, as well as in innovative coatings.”
Zeller+Gmelin has been making inroads in the label and narrow web market, including in Latin America, where the company recently opened a new subsidiary.
“Most of our UV markets are flat, but UV flexo continues to grow,” said Damon Geer, vice president of sales for Zeller+Gmelin. “We opened a new Mexican subsidiary, and Latin America is definitely on the rise.
“Label and narrow web is the fastest-growing market segment, and it is continuing to grow,” Doug Killian, national sales manager at Zeller+Gmelin UV Inks, added. “We are seeing more new equipment being installed in Latin America. Low migration inks are bigger in Europe than in the U.S., but it will come. We meet the Swiss Ordnance for inks that we are developing in our state-of-the-art labs in Germany.”
UVitec showcased its security solutions during Labelexpo 2012.
“We are focusing on security solutions for markets such as pharma, beauty and healthcare,” Andy Wasserman, vice president of sales for UVitec, said. “We customize for our clients, which is our strength.”
“Most security systems for packaging are printed solutions, whether they are general purpose such as taggants, encrypted images, holograms, thermochromics or even printed DNA,” said Vytas Barsauskas, UVitec’s general manager. “We can help put together a family of security solutions with our partners. All of these printed solutions add value to the product, and this is a growing market.”
Vlad Tomovich, flexographic manager, Central Ink Corporation, noted that Central Ink is launching new products in the marketplace.
“The narrow web market is more of a specialty business, and customers are looking for inks and coatings that differentiate their products,” Mr. Tomovich said. “We have developed UV and water-based products for the flexo market; for example, our water-based Hurricane system is heat and water resistance has drawn strong interest in the film and multi-wall bag market. Our water-based Hydromax system is unique in low odor with a fresh clean linen fragrance for paper packaging applications.”
Fujifilm has been active in the label and narrow web market, making acquisitions over the years, including Sericol, which offered UV flexo inks for packaging, as well as Dimatix.
“This has been a driving force for where we are today,” said Rob Swearingen, Fujifilm’s national sales manager – packaging. “ We see strong growth in UV flexo and plates for the narrow web market. We developed our new water-based inks, which now gives us a full complement of inks. Our water-based inks deliver high gloss and minimum on-press adjustments as well as good color density and batch to batch consistency. We believe there is a lot of opportunity for growth, and our new FLENEX DLE (Direct Laser Engraving) System plate technology is opening doors for discussions about our inks. eliminates the waste stream.”
“Label and narrow web is a growing market,” said Angelo Capozio, Alden and Ott’s director of sales and marketing. “Our business is up with our existing customers. It’s been a very good show with lots of leads. We are happy with it.”
Rich Amendola, national sales and marketing manager, Braden Sutphin Ink, said that the narrow web market is definitely a growing market for his company.
“We are advancing in flexo for label and corrugated, and we are staking a lot of our future on the packaging side while also maintaining our focus on our core offset business,” Mr. Amendola said. “We are experiencing significant growth on the flexo side. We are celebrating our 100th anniversary, and it is an exciting time for us.”
ECKART America showcased a number of products, including its metallic inkjet inks and its RotoStar UV Shrink inks.
“The narrow web market has been our predominant market, and what is changing for us are the advances in newer labeling technologies such as shrink sleeves,” said Scott Schultz, market development manager, graphic arts North America for ECKART America. “Typically, when they are shrunk, metallics would lose their luster. Our new RotoStar UV Shrink technology allows printers to maintain luster throughout the shrinking process.”
Mr. Schultz reported that there has been incremental growth in the use of metallics in inkjet.
“Printheads are the biggest challenge,” Mr. Schultz added. “We have developed metallic inkjet inks for Epson, and are working with Xaar, Spectra and others to meet their needs. There is a huge demand for metallics. We continually raise the bar with our products, creating more robust, innovative and cost effective solutions to meet our customers’ needs.
Ink Manufacturers Showcase Innovations at Labelexpo 2012
By David Savastano, Ink World Editor