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FLEXO Magazine : August 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES the preferred process for producing labels. Indeed, this could have been the case at Tapecon. “When we invested in our fi rst digital press, we debated whether it would go in our Label Division in Rochester or in Buffalo,” said Ziegler. “The reason we brought it to Durable Products is that our various die cutting and laminating processes allow us to be more nimble in mixing and matching our processes to meet customer needs. Half the jobs that we ran on the digital offset press was subsurface polycarbonate work that replaced screen printing. So, it didn’t make sense to have that over in the Label Division.” Today the fi rm still runs digital, and recently traded in the digital offset press for a Xeikon 3300 digital color label press. Ziegler and his team paired it with a Rotofl ex diecutter to add rotary or fl at sheet magnetic die cutting for labels. “We were looking to drastically upgrade our digital technology,” he said. “We identifi ed a list of key criteria, and were determined to fi nd equipment that was the best fi t for us. That’s more complex for us than your typical label shop. We weren’t interested in following the pack. The process took more than two years. With both the Label and Durable Products divisions, it was challenging but rewarding. The press is a better fi t for substrate latitude, UV lightfastness, opacity of white toner, abrasion resistance, etc. It’s full rotary and not intermittent frame-driven technology, holding tighter tolerances and running at higher speeds. It also does not require specially coated substrates, which reduces inventory and costs substantially. We are able to run much longer runs effectively with the 3300, compared to what we could before.” Tapecon’s Xeikon 3300 digital press. ROOM FOR EVERYONE The jobs being run on the new press are not the same kinds of jobs being run on the fl exo presses in Rochester, and as such, it’s not taking work from the Label Division. “While we talk about digital printing, keep in mind that we have a tremendous amount of work that is better fi t to run on a fl exo or rotary letterpress. That’s because of volume and the benefi ts of in-line processes,” said Ziegler. Optimize Your Color Gamut with CRI’s TrueColorBalance A unique color management system m Achieve the largest possible color gamut in the visible color spectrum when printing with CRIÕ s TrueColorBalance process inks. CRIÕ s technical specialists combine custom formulated InkChemistry with their color management expertise to optimize your process colors to a neutral gray. TrueColorBalance gives your operators and pre-press suppliers a precise target for process image reproduction, resulting in reduced waste, shorter setup times, lower ink costs and no more color toning on press. CRIÕ s TrueColorBalance is compatible with FIRST 4.0. Typical run lengths on the digital press can range from 500ft. to 40,000ft., regardless of the number of colors, and the press runs at 63fpm, according to Ziegler. It’s a fi ve-color press with the ability to build four-color process on top of onepass opaque white or fi ve-color process to achieve a high percentage of the PMS color palette. Unlike some narrow web fl exo printers who have adopted digital presses, Ziegler was careful to note that the press is not being used for prototypes. “What it’s best at are big programs that run common types of materials with many SKUs. This is because once the press is running on a specifi c stock, you can print any quantity, shape, size or design one after the other… it runs like a dream,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure on the customer level to run just- in-time. If, for example, we are running jobs for a customer on semi-gloss, that customer might want 25,000 of one product, 1,000 of another, and 50,000 of a third. We are able to just continuously run those. It makes a good work horse.” This was a change from what the sales staff and operators were used to. “If we had a $200 order that required a unique substrate for, say, a wine label, we’re not going to set that up on the new press. The amount of material, which you are not running for anyone else, isn’t really cost effective. Who is making money on $200 to $500 orders anyway?” That’s not the only adaptation required. Ziegler, with more than 15 years in the industry, said, “When I started in customer service, I remember customers sending us label fi les created in process. At the time, I was educating our customers on using spot colors. Now, I’m re-educating customers on the process capabilities of the digital press.” ■ www.colorresolutions.com 800.346.8570 76 FLEXO AUGUST 2009 www.flexography.org