Xeikon Café on Packaging Innovations showcases digital heat transfer label production

Customer and partner Diamond Photofoil will present how digital heat transfer labeling changed its business

(PresseBox) ( Eede, The Netherlands, )
At the Xeikon Café event, taking place May 20 till 22 in Belgium, Xeikon and its Aura Partners will explore how digital printing could enhance the business of label and packaging printers, converters as well as print buyers by making profit from short to medium runs. The three day-event will highlight the complete range of Xeikon's label and packaging application suites: Folding Carton Suite; Self-Adhesive Label Suite; Heat Transfer Label Suite and In-Mold Label Suite. This release provides more details on what Xeikon has in store for anyone interested in digital heat transfer label production. "The event will be informative and interactive, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions," says Filip Weymans, Xeikon's Director of Segment Marketing Labels & Packaging. "Digital heat transfer label production is still a largely untapped market. We are convinced that, together with our partners, we have created a solution that will allow visitors to exploit its potential."

"Heat transfer labels are typically used to decorate all sorts of promotional items, such as pens, magnets, pen holders, soap dispensers or industrial products like plastic buckets, pails and cartridges. They can be applied to a variety of shapes and forms and, because they are so thin, brand owners can achieve a more exclusive no-label look. Conventional heat transfer labels are produced using screen printing, which offers limited image quality, or gravure printing. The latter achieves high quality but the high cost of the print cylinders makes it only feasible for long runs," Weymans continues. "In Europe, heat transfer labels represent a minor share of the label and packaging market. Traditional techniques for decorating industrial plastic containers are direct offset or direct screen printing. However, these methods have certain drawbacks like lower image quality, cost and time of prepress and print run inflexibility."

Xeikon Heat Transfer Label Suite offers a low-complex solution

By combining digital label printing technology with heat transfer application processes, the drawbacks of conventional heat transfer labeling or direct printing can be overcome. With digital printing there is no setup time and each print can be different, enabling full personalization of promotional as well as industrial items. Xeikon's dry toner electrophotography in particular is a highly stable and reliable digital printing process, offering several unique advantages in terms of print quality, color accuracy and consistency, light fastness and food and consumer product safety.

Like any of Xeikon's label and packaging application suites, the Heat Transfer Label Suite consists of a Xeikon 3000 Series press, complemented with four supporting components: (1) software, (2) consumables and tools, (3) print media and (4) pre- and post-printing equipment. This suite is the result of close collaboration between Xeikon and its Aura Partners, offering a compact and low-complex solution. Especially for the decoration of industrial items, the advantage of this heat transfer labeling solution, compared to in-mold labeling or self-adhesive labeling, is significant. It offers molders an opportunity to create additional value-adding business opportunities. Printed labels are simply slit and rewound and can be fed into a wide range of applicators, ready to be applied, without any extra varnishing, die-cutting and rewinding or stacking needed.

Live printing of promotional and industrial heat transfer labels

During the Xeikon Café, a Xeikon 3000 Series press, equipped with CMYK and opaque white toner, will be printing promotional as well as industrial heat transfer labels. The order in which the five printing stations will be mounted is the reverse of that used for the printing of self-adhesive labels or folding cartons. The prints will be slit and rewound using an inline Xeikon rewinder (PMR). Following applications will be produced:

- a promotional heat transfer label printed on a 23 µ PET foil with a special release coating from Diamond Photofoil. No pretreatment of the PET foil is required. Using a conventional heat transfer label applicator, the prints can be applied on items such as pens and cups without any special surface treatment of the items required. The toner layer ensures sufficient adhesion.

- an industrial heat transfer label to be applied using the Presstrans heat transfer process, specifically developed for the decoration of rigid containers that are flame-treated to improve adhesion. This label will be printed on an untreated siliconized PET foil produced by Siliconature and can be applied by a MOSS applicator.

- an industrial heat transfer label to be applied using Thermage, a heat transfer process commonly used in Asia and North America. The labels will be printed on wax-coated label stock. Prior to the printing, this wax coating is preconditioned with a primer from Actega Wit. This type of label can be applied to any plastic container using a Tronics applicator.

Both industrial label applications will also demonstrate how Xeikon's VariLane enables the printing of labels with different SKUs and different sizes along the web - in one and the same run - thereby increasing productivity and reducing material waste. Samples of objects decorated with any of the applications printed at the event will be available on display. And during several technical seminars, the Aura Partners who contributed to the Heat Transfer Label Suite will explain why certain choices in terms of equipment, tools and consumables, software or print media were made.

Meet the Customer: Diamond Photofoil

"Nothing beats first-hand experiences so we are very pleased that David Hitch, managing director of Diamond Photofoil, has agreed to share his story at the event," says Weymans. "Over the years, this successful customer became a valuable partner, heavily involved in the development of the Heat Transfer Label Suite."

Established in 1968 as an injection molding company, UK-based Diamond Photofoil (www.photofoil.com) has since grown into a leader in the specialist field of printing on plastic components. About 20 years ago, the company already developed its own silk screen transfer process. It was no surprise it was also one of the first companies to explore the possibilities of digital transfer printing. In 2000, Diamond Photofoil installed its first Xeikon-built digital press, which was regularly upgraded. Since 2010, the company has been operating a Xeikon 3000 Series press to produce its Photofoil™ transfers. These digitally printed transfers are supplied for application by its customers or Diamond Photofoil applies them to its customers' products using specialist hot foil machines. In cooperation with GPE Ardenghi, for example, it has developed a highly automated solution for pen decoration. Diamond Photofoil also decorates products using silkscreen transfers, direct silkscreen, rotary, hot foiling and pad printing.

About the Xeikon Café on Packaging Innovations - easy and free registration

The Xeikon Café will take place at Xeikon's production site in Lier, Belgium. It will run from May 20 till May 22, with basically the same program each day so participants can choose the date that best suits them. Attendance is free but registration is required online at www.xeikoncafe.com.

The Xeikon Café is hosted in collaboration with the following Xeikon Aura Partners, who will all attend the event: 3M, AB Graphic International, ACTEGA Terra, Advanced Track & Trace, Argos Solutions, Bograma, CERM, CHILI Publish, Diamond Photofoil, Grafisk Maskinfabrik, Highcon, Hybrid Software, Iggesund, Kama, Label Traxx, Meech International, Michelman, OneVision, Rietstack, RotoMetrics, Schober Technologies, Siliconature, Stora Enso, Squid Inks, ThermoFlexX, Treofan, Tronics and UPM Raflatac.

About the Xeikon 3000 Series

The Xeikon 3000 Series comprises five simplex presses, differing in maximum printing speed and imaging width. They have several unique features that make them ideally suited to heat transfer label printing:

- All presses are full rotary with variable repeat length and always print at top speed, regardless of the number of colors used. Labels of different dimensions can be printed in one and the same run, without any adjustment to the press, thereby maximizing productivity.

- Depending on the model, the maximum imaging width is up to 508 mm (20"). The larger width increases the scope of applications as well as productivity.

- True 1200 dpi combined with four-bit variable-dot density offers the image quality the market has come to expect, while automated quality control ensures perfect color registration and maintains color accuracy and consistency throughout print runs as well as between jobs and across presses. This resolution also makes it possible to print fine details, enabling the addition of bar codes and security features, such as microtext.

- Xeikon's QA-I toner contains no harmful chemicals, meets FDA and ISEGA standards for food packaging applications and is CPSIA compliant. It also offer a high degree of lightfastness.

- When printing labels on transparent or metallic media on a Xeikon press, one pass is all it takes to produce a perfectly opaque white base layer, offering a better opacity than 'flexo white'.

- All Xeikon presses are equipped with the X-800 digital front-end, combining prepress, data processing and press operation functionality. It comes with several add-ons especially developed for label production, such as VariLane enabling the printing of labels with different SKUs and different sizes in the same run. Integrated into the X-800 are all the necessary tools to efficiently implement color management, ensuring consistent and reproducible results. The X-800 further offers seamless integration and connectivity with any market-leading PDF, design and production workflows. As a result, it enables the implementation of fully integrated heat transfer label production workflows.
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