The new software upgrades featured at Labelexpo Europe 2011 running three jobs with non-stop digital die changeover and variable data capability. The system on show featured digital cold foil application through inkjet technology to apply the adhesive without the use of printing plates and Tidland automatic slit change pattern system for non-stop operation.
The SabreXtreme laser technology from AB Graphic International dispenses with the need for conventional die cutting tools and the costs associated with production and storage. Added to these benefits are no more engineering times to wait for and no heavy lifting of rotary tools.
"The software on the SabreXtreme is continuously being upgraded in line with the availability of new technology and applications," says Al Spendlow, VP of the company's USA operation. "Sales of the system are increasing and new opportunities are being identified. For example, we recently supplied a SabreXtreme to a digital printer that enabled them to eliminate die charges and move from out sourcing and drop shipments to in-house production with significant cost savings."
The SabreXtreme meets the increasing demand for shorter print runs and is capable of producing hundreds of different die patterns a day. The system offers network connection enabling a company's art department to directly load a library of label cutting patterns to run. The patterns are selected by the operator using barcodes printed on work orders. In addition, the Windows based software permits all machine settings to be saved so that the exact performance of a pattern can be duplicated later.
Label converters using the SabreXtreme, typically offer their customers a selection of five or six materials and finishing options for small jobs. Offering a smaller number of materials makes it easier to group the jobs for efficient printing. Several different jobs can be digitally printed on each roll of material taking note of the order in which they are processed. Each roll is then varnished or laminated on the system and subsequently laser cut, matrix stripped and rewound. Patterns can be changed without stopping the web so there is no time lost in set-up if the roll is rewound without separating the jobs. It is usually more economical to slit and separate the jobs at the label inspection station. In this way, hundreds of small jobs a day can be manufactured profitably. The saved costs of conventional dies alone easily offsets the initial investment cost and small jobs then become a profit center rather than a burden. In addition, by removing the small jobs from the semi-rotary or flatbed die cutters, the whole print operation runs more efficiently.
With digital printing becoming more common place within the label industry, customer demand for even shorter production runs, usually only a few hundred labels, is increasing. This is true of labels, tags, and tickets as well as web fed, folding cartons. Almost any company with more than one digital press is experiencing the trend. Currently, these ultra small jobs are unprofitable and difficult to take on because conventional metal die costs are too high and machine set-up times are too long.
With the demand for short runs and fast deliveries showing no sign of diminishing, it is clear that most label converters with two or more digital presses will eventually need laser technology. Most recognize this, but do not know how it can be used to best effect. Lasers technology is seen by many as a substitute for rotary dies. This is not the case. The differences between a laser cut and a metal die cut has to be accepted as does material limitations. There is also a learning curve on how to run small jobs and make money doing it. Many label converters have been discouraging small jobs and may not have enough of them to justify purchasing a laser. However, once installed, we have seen small job business increase rapidly. In addition with the newest options now available, the technology can be linked to the art department and configured for tags and tickets, as well as small folding cartons.
AB Graphic International is a worldwide supplier of label converting and finishing machines with facilities in the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and United States. The company offers a full range of converting lines either standard or tailored to customer requirements.