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Progress in digital at drupa

Unveiled at drupa 2016 was an impressive collaboration by three well known firms that has led to a late-stage customization solution based on laser thermographic imaging; it could be a game-changer in the very near future.

Breakthrough in late-stage customization.
Breakthrough in late-stage customization.

First, the name of the solution: Macsa ID DIGILase Powered by Xerox. The collaborators are, of course, Spain’s Macsa, England’s DataLase, and the USA’s Xerox. DataLase makes a laser-sensitive pigment that can be incorporated into an ink or coating and then applied to a substrate like a carton, a corrugated case, flexible film, or narrow-web label. A laser beam then creates high-contrast digital printing of the substrate at the point of packaging or filling. This method of printing--reliable, fast, and inkless—has been in commercial use for some time, but only with conventional CO 2 lasers. What makes Macsa ID DIGILase Powered by Xerox different is that it relies not on a conventional CO 2 laser but rather on a diode array laser—the intellectual property of Xerox--to activate the laser-sensitive pigment. Instead of a beam of light, an array of beams is used. The result is much greater speed.

DataLase calls the breakthrough method Variprint monochrome technology. According to DataLase, Variprint brings to the market the ability to deliver true real-time messaging and variable data on pack with a new selection of monochrome colors (see photo). It means a new level of pack differentiation with promotions and key variable data messages able to stand out from traditional coding and marking style graphics in blue, green, and red text.

One of the more intriguing developments that has been driven by the rapid growth of digital technology in package printing is the emergence of finishing technology that complements the speed-to-market and short make-ready advantages that are so fundamental to digital package printing. One of these finishing systems was on display at the drupa booth of MBO. Called the Stamina solution, it’s a rotary die cutter for cartons that requires only 20 minutes of make-ready time as opposed to the three hours or so that are typical in the high-volume world of carton die cutting. The idea is to give carton converters a finishing system suitable for runs of 10,000 or so, the kind of runs that are the real sweet spot where digital carton printing is concerned. MBO says the Stamina rotary die cutter is now in operation at a beta site.

Another area where digital printing is growing rapidly is in corrugated, and among the drupa exhibitors that showed a press designed specifically for corrugated was Durst. The Rho 130 SPC is based on the latest generation of single-pass printing systems that Durst is already using successfully in the ceramics- and label-printing segments. It can be configured with up to six color rows and has a maximum printing width of 1,285 m. Any length of corrugated board or paper media of up to 12 mm in thickness can be printed—with a resolution of up to 800 dpi and at a print speed of up to 9,350 sq m/hr. The Rho 130 SPC is equipped with Durst’s SPC Drop-on-Demand print head technology and has a non-hazardous ink system and an IR/UV drying process designed for high productivity. A feeder with Non-Crush technology specially designed for digital corrugated production transports the media virtually without contact to ensure that the material structure is not damaged.

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