Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is continuing to systematically focus on its core business. In the growing labels sector, it will be concentrating on end-to-end digitized solutions in sheetfed offset printing. Speedmaster sheetfed offset presses, the XL 106-DD rotary die cutter, and the label systems of Heidelberg partner Polar are perfect for making wet-glue labels, cut-and-stack labels, and also in-mold labels (IMLs). Heidelberg is now using an innovation initiative to step up its activities in this segment and is also further expanding its position on the growing labels market.
Like all print shops, label printers are faced with the challenge of completing increasingly complex orders in less time. Shorter runs, faster delivery times, ever more specific customer requirements, and sustainability demands all call for highly flexible production based on efficient workflows. The Push to Stop concept from Heidelberg for navigated, automated end-to-end production of print jobs in conjunction with the Prinect workflow is therefore also proving popular in the labels sector.
Heidelberg will be providing a virtual demonstration of one such solution as part of its Innovation Week under the banner “Unfold your potential” in mid-October. Anyone interested can access this event simply by providing brief registration details. The company will be showcasing a highly flexible production operation with the smartest Speedmaster XL 106 ever, including the special equipment packages for label printing, that is to say the lightweight paper, foil, and in-mold performance packages.
“With its digitized sheetfed offset printing solutions, Heidelberg will continue to play a leading role on the growing labels market in the future. We remain a reliable partner and supplier for our customers in this segment, working with them to overcome the challenges of this demanding market,” says Markus Höfer, Head of Product Management Label at Heidelberg.
“Customers’ growing demands in terms of print speed, stable sheet travel, level of automation, and ease of handling when processing thinner substrates on the CutStar sheeter prompted us to develop a new generation of this system. The result is the new Push to Stop CutStar , which is based on a completely new platform with the latest drive technology, state-of-the-art control technology, a new blade geometry, and brand new peripherals,” reveals Höfer.
The market for in-mold labels is enjoying annual growth rates of around four to six percent, and handling particularly thin materials is the key challenge during production. The IML Performance Package for the Speedmaster 106 is now also used in the new CutStar Gen. 4 for high-quality results on foils as thin as 50 µ, combined with an impressive production output. The fourth-generation sheeter is fully integrated into the Prinect workflow and also the Intellistart system on the press for production based on the Push to Stop principle. Air/format settings and format changes take place fully automatically, which means shorter setup times. The surface treatment integrated into the CutStar is another new feature, ensuring high end-to-end quality by improving ink adhesion. What’s more, optimization geared specifically to low grammages for both paper and IMLs increases the production speed by up to 2,000 sheets per hour.
Surface finishes with a metallic look are very much on trend and make products stand out at the point of sale, where customers often make purchase decisions in a fraction of a second. With the new FoilStar Cure, label producers can meet even challenging finishing requirements. In conjunction with another Heidelberg innovation – the DryStar LED Pro dryer – impressive high-gloss metallic effects can reliably be produced. In the FoilStar Cure, drying for the first time takes place right through the foil, which enhances gloss levels. Cold foil is the perfect solution for a wide range of effects, combining an attractive price with an impressive processing speed. It also has environmental benefits over aluminum-coated material because it saves on aluminum and makes labels easier to recycle. Thanks to customized indexing lengths during production, and because only the specified parts of the label are foiled, up to 80 percent less material is used.
The installation of over 60 Speedmaster XL 106-DD rotary die cutters provides impressive proof of the market success Heidelberg has been enjoying with this machine since 2008. It is available in various configurations – from the new Speedmaster XL 106-D with just one die-cutting unit, which is now available, to the XL 106-DD with magnetic cylinder and extraction system for injection and decorative holes.
“The new Speedmaster XL 106-D with just one die-cutting unit makes it easier for label printers to move into rotary die cutting and complements the successful Speedmaster XL 106-DD with magnetic cylinder and extraction system, which has been available for a number of years,” says Höfer
The XL 106-D and DD process the thinnest of materials at a high speed of 12,000 sheets per hour. They punch even the smallest injection holes, which are stripped and extracted straight away thanks to the high-precision magnetic cylinder with 1 µ pressure adjustment. This high precision resulting from the cylinder design and uniform cutting die dispenses with the time-consuming makeready required when using the flat-bed process due to differences in level within the cutting die. This means far shorter setup times. Tooling costs are also up to 50 percent lower than with a flat-bed die cutter and the production speed is three times higher.
Service agreements complementing Heidelberg equipment and software are also available for the labels sector, which ensures continuously high availability of all systems. Digital maintenance management and performance analyses increase uptime by as much as seven percent. Like all other Heidelberg customers, label producers benefit from the industry’s largest service network, with global availability of spare parts and access to the Heidelberg Assistant digital collaboration platform.
Even following the announcement of the sale of the Gallus Group to Swiss packaging group benpac holding ag, Heidelberg will work closely with benpac in the future, providing service and sales support for narrow-web flexographic presses. In the case of the Gallus Labelfire, Heidelberg also still supplies both the digital printing unit and the associated consumables, which means the company will continue to offer its customers an attractive solution for digital label printing.