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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES In addition, it takes time to bring a fl exo machine up to speed before even one saleable page is produced. Only the most ad- vanced presses can compare to digital in time it takes to get up to color. Shorter web paths and “on the fl y” changeovers are moving fl exo forward in this arena. Better process control techniques are also making a difference. Flexo still maintains its strength in label-types beyond the tra- ditional pressure-sensitive material. The vast majority of digitally produced labels are self-adhesive. Still, newer presses can output other types such as wrap-around film, shrink-sleeve, wet-glue, tags and even flexible packaging. This gives digital presses an in- road to almost any market segment—from pharmaceutical and chemicals to food and beverage. Another advantage fl exo still holds, which continues to be a challenge for digital, is the ability to use one type of substrate for multiple applications, which helps to lower costs and inven- tory. Historically, most digital presses require pre-treated stock, although some newer models do not. This is a hassle when print- ing multiple applications. Digital press manufacturers are work- ing to create machines that are equipped to print on one sub- strate for multiple applications, meaning printers no longer have to maintain inventory of extra stock or substrates to take advantage of digital printing. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT Whether from pressure from customers, environ- mental organizations, government oversight and regulation, or simply as a result of altruism, printers today have to take strides to make their operations eco-friendly. Eco-friendly substrates are easier to print with flexo than digital. Waste-reduction inno- vations and new fl exo ink technologies are also on the horizon. Incorporating digital presses as a complement to flexo machines allows label printers to attain eco- friendly goals through raw material substitution and reduction. Digital production presses offer several environmental advantages: ?While most digital presses run on wet toner; the ? first digital press, to run on dry toner emits zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). ??Dry toner needs no process water and, thus, cre- ates no water pollution. ??The dry toner used from digital presses can be easily removed from labels and contains no harmful chemicals, making labels produced from new digital presses easily recyclable. ??Digital presses allow label printers to print only what’s needed, when needed, reducing exces- sive waste and reducing storage requirements. NICE COMPLEMENT The label industry has matured over the past several years, with no indication of slowing down. Businesses are looking for tools that will help them continue to grow and they are insisting on produc- tion tools that satisfy their needs on short notice. Flexo is responding to new digital presses by adding increasingly effective automation and including waste- saving features, such as print decks with shorter web paths. Label printers are looking for versatile, fast systems that produce labels with eye-catching graphics and images, while also offering multiple applications to attract a wider variety of customers. Finally, label printers are increasingly mindful of the need to use environmentally sound printing practices. As an integrated, complementary part of a label printer’s fl exographic operation, digital presses offer unique advantages that will help meet these increasingly important market demands. ?
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008