The Xeikon 3500 is increasingly becoming the technology of choice for companies looking to print in-mold labels digitally, with installations taking place around the world on a regular basis. The latest company to invest in the Xeikon technology is IML Labels. The company is based just north of Montreal, Canada and has added a Xeikon 3500 digital color press to complement its offset presses.
“Our customers are spread throughout North America and about 75 percent of them are involved in the food business,” says owner Donald Caron, who founded IML Labels in 2007. “As a result, it was very important to us that the Xeikon toner is FDA-compliant for food contact and does not contain mineral oil. In addition, color matching with our offset presses is so accurate that we can mix both processes within the same job.”
IML Labels has grown rapidly since its formation and today it employs more than 50 people. The company provides a comprehensive ‘one-stop shop’ service including pre-press, overprinting and finishing in order to create high-quality, ready-to-mold labels. Typical end products are ice cream containers, yogurt pots and butter tubs. IML Labels’ client base includes molders and direct customers, many of whom are leading names in the food sector, as well as pharmaceutical, industrial and souvenir industries.
“We are being asked frequently to provide mock-ups and help with test marketing new packaging. In addition, we are experiencing a growing demand for shorter print runs, often down to around 1,000. Our offset presses simply weren’t economical for these orders. The Xeikon 3500, already in operation on a full shift basis, enables us to meet these requirements effectively and provide a better service to our customers.”
The Xeikon 3500 at IML Labels runs ICE toner, which is now the standard toner for printing in-mold labels. The Xeikon 3500 can handle substrate widths up to 516 mm / 20.3 inches. This format flexibility enables the production of a broad range of label formats. Xeikon’s extensive finishing range for its digital presses provided IML Labels with several converting options for their labels. They have installed a UCoat finishing unit, which allows inline flood aqueous coating and provides cut-to-sheet capabilities. Die cutting of labels is done on their existing equipment used for offset printed labels.
“The Xeikon 3500 has proved to be the ideal sales and marketing tool,” says Mr. Caron. “Orders from new customers are printed digitally as these invariably involve shorter runs. Consequently, we have eliminated the waste and inefficiencies we used to encounter on our traditional presses. When orders reach a certain size, they can easily be switched to offset.”
Mr. Caron adds, “We intend to take advantage of the ability to print variable data on the Xeikon press to incorporate features such as sequential numbering. Today, the market is demanding a level of production flexibility that only digital printing can provide. However, every situation is different and we worked closely with Xeikon to develop a solution that met our specific requirements.”
Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s Director of Segment Marketing, Labels & Packaging, comments, “The production of in-mold labels with digital technology is proving to be a powerful tool for brand owners. Now, they can easily undertake test marketing projects, trials and short runs. It is only a matter of time until more brands embrace this opportunity. Xeikon has invested a lot of time and resources in developing this technically complex application. We were able to execute it successfully in real production environments due to the expertise and guidance of customers such as IML Labels Canada.”