Label printers are facing unprecedented times. High inflation, increasing operational costs, the rising price of raw materials, ever changing customer demands combined with the need to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
Julie Cross, Technical Director, at Domino Digital Printing Solutions explains how digital inkjet can combine the productivity of flexographic print with the flexibility of digital to deliver high print quality labels sustainably and profitably.
Sustainability is fast becoming one of the key watchwords in global business, and a trend that is growing in significance, especially across the fast-moving consumer goods sector. As a result, this is having an impact on the packaging and labels industry.
Companies, especially major brands no longer measure success solely in terms of direct profit. Sustainability, and a company’s Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) credentials, although not a direct measure of profitability, are progressively having a greater influence on its overall success. The demand for eco-friendly practices in businesses has never been higher, and this trend is filtering down into label production. Customers are now looking to their label printers to deliver not just on quality, demand and price, but also in a way that upholds their commitment to the environment. The good news is that digital inkjet technology makes this possible.
So is it possible to deliver high quality labels without compromising output, the environment, or profits?
The benefits of Digital Inkjet Printing
The introduction of digital inkjet print technology has without doubt been invaluable for label and packaging printers. And those businesses that have been open to adopting innovation and introducing new digital inkjet technologies are the ones that maintain competitive advantage by meeting increasing customer demands for ‘what they want, when they want it’ output, while improving efficiency, managing costs and delivering on sustainability.
When it comes to label and packaging printing, there are many advantages to digital inkjet printing compared to other methods.
- More cost effective for short and medium runs
Jobs up to 3,000m in length requiring a single SKU are typically more cost effective for digital inkjet production, due to no plate production costs associated with flexo, and much less set-up waste.
- Cost efficiency for longer runs with multiple SKUs
For longer jobs with multiple SKUs, inkjet production or via an inkjet/flexo hybrid can also be cost effective as every SKU change incurs an additional plate, extra downtime and increased set-up waste costs.
- Easy, cost efficient print-on-demand and personalisation
Digital inkjet can accommodate print-on-demand and short run changes as it requires minimal set-up and creates minimal substrate wastage, thereby maximising productivity.
Without requiring printing plates or lengthy set-up, simple inkjet workflows – especially in a single inline configuration with finishing processes – facilitate the shortest possible time to process a job from order to dispatch. This is made possible by inkjet’s higher production speeds, which more closely match finishing speed processes.
- Low environmental impact UV curable inks
Inkjet inks contain between 1-8% Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This compares with up to 95% VOCs for many solvent-based inks, which also require regular print head cleaning.
- Broader capability attracts new business
The ability to offer short and medium run production jobs cost-effectively and with graphic representation similar, if not equal to flexo reproduction, offers the potential to attract new and alternative business streams.
- Less waste is more sustainable
With digital inkjet production, there is no need to produce or dispose of printing plates. Set-up waste is minimal: typically just 3-10m, even with a reel change, versus 200m for flexo presses. In addition, the print-on-demand economies of digital inkjet removes the need to purchase and store high quantities of materials, therefore saving the user money while also reducing the risk of obsolescent waste. Ultimately, less waste is better for the environment.
Innovative digital inkjet technology = efficiency, sustainability and profitability
Efficient, productive, sustainable and profitable. Domino’s flagship N-Series solution, the N610i 600dpi seven colour digital label press, combines the productivity of flexo printing with the flexibility of rapid change digital technology, and is the most proven inkjet solution for printing self-adhesive labels and shrink wrap sleeves. Requiring no plates, no plate making process or associated materials for wash-down purposes, material wastage and substrate obsolescence are minimal, and with fewer curing lamps than a flexo press, the N610i uses less energy. What’s more, it also incorporates Domino’s unique and enhanced automated i-Tech intelligent Technology features to provide unparalleled reliability, automation and performance.
The N610i is also available as a separate N610i integration module. This module can be supplied as part of a fully integrated hybrid or inline solution within a flexo press, combining analogue operational capability with the flexibility of digital print and inline finishing. This facilitates a wider range of applications, while still providing for quick digital job changes, high impact graphics, personalisation and multiple SKUs, all in one single and efficient process.
Production advantages of the N610i include:
- 600dpi ‘native’ print resolution
- Operating speeds of up to 70m/min (230ft/min)
- High quality UV curable inks in up to seven colours, designed to deliver the widest gamut including Opaque White.
- 72% Opacity White – delivering screen-like high impact appearance with the operational flexibility of digital.
- This UV ink set is capable of maintaining full adhesion after substrate shrinkage (down to 75% or less of its original size) dependent on substrate type.
- i-Tech WebRev – web reverse function manages substrate changes and unplanned stoppages, making it possible to limit waste to less than 2m (6ft).
- i-Tech CleanCap - automated print head cleaning and capping ensures the highest print quality and productivity, whilst reducing manual operator intervention and reducing waste.
- i-Tech ActiFlow – This advanced ink circulation system provides consistent print results, optimum reliability and minimum stoppage.
- Featuring industry standard 333mm (13”) print width and the capability to handle a wide range of self-adhesive label substrates including coated paper, polypropylene and polyethylene, as well as shrink sleeve labels.
- Textured print effects – a cost-effective substitute for premium priced textured substrates
- Large roll capacity – Accepting 340mm (13.4”) wide media width 1m (40”) diameter
The growing demand for improved sustainability in all aspects of business is forcing label and packaging print businesses to think hard about how they design, manufacture and deliver products to their customers in both a profitable and sustainable way.
‘Scrap and labour savings since moving this job to the Domino is huge.’
Dave Ferguson, President, McCourt Label, USA
At Domino, we are proud to have more than 1,000 global installations of our Generation 6 inkjet technology. Based on this technology, the N610i digital inkjet label press is already proving its worth as a sound investment that provides added potential for delivering ‘what they want, when they want it’ customer demands, greater sales growth, increased profitability, whilst reducing production costs and meeting environmental objectives.
To read more customer testimonials, and to do the right thing for your business and the planet, check out our N-Series range of printers now at:
N610i 600dpi Digital Label Press | Domino Printing UK (domino-printing.com)
N610i Digital Hybrid Printing | Domino Printing UK (domino-printing.com)