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Abbey Labels chooses Xeikon CX3 to expand digital production services

eikon, an innovator in digital color printing technology, is proud to announce that leading UK label producer Abbey Labels Ltd has chosen the Xeikon CX3 digital label press to expand its digital production services and reduce pressure on capacity. The Xeikon CX3, based on Xeikon Cheetah digital print technology and officially launched for worldwide availability at Labelexpo Europe, is the fastest five-color digital label press in its class.


As for the choice to invest in the Xeikon CX3, Tom Allum, Chairman of Abbey Labels is clear, “We acknowledged that with our existing digital equipment, we were getting to over-capacity and our lead times were drifting because of the great success of our digital department. We aim to turn jobs around in four days, but it was stretching to a week. The Xeikon CX3 is adding exactly the digital printing capability we need. It will help us to stay one step ahead and keep up to speed with market requirements.”

Digital gives more options

“We specialize in trade work for print management and procurement businesses. In addition we serve various other clients in the food, beverage, retail, cosmetic, chemical and pharmaceutical industries” explains Allum. “. Due to the great success of our digital department, we installed a second Xeikon press earlier this year. The Xeikon CX3, scheduled for installation at the end of this year, was chosen to help us address the continuously increased demand for digital and achieve a 20% year-on-year growth.” The digital service is complementary to Abbey’s HD flexo production on four presses.

The way Abbey Labels operates has dramatically evolved during this investment program from one of a supplier to a more integrated part of the natural supply chain. Allum comments, “We are now talking to customers earlier in the process because they know we can help them achieve the results and the quality they are looking for – even in the most challenging situations” The need to maintain high quality has always been one of the main drivers for the investment in Xeikon technology. “Our Xeikon presses have helped us to reduce production times and therefore enable us to meet tighter deadlines with the quality we demand. We understand technology and software, and it was that understanding that led us to invest in Xeikon,” says Allum.

Press productivity at high speed

As for the last investment in the Xeikon CX3, one key attraction for Abbey Labels was the speed of the press – 30 meters per minute, which is 56% faster than the current presses. This speed will enable Abbey Labels to create a highly flexible approach to print production, help expand its portfolio and win new business. Another deciding factor was the ability to print on a variety of heat-sensitive substrates, which is made possible by Xeikon’s unique toner technology, the specifically-designed CX3 toner (QA-CH) which requires a much lower fusing temperature than typical toner-based presses. In addition, it meets FDA regulations for food contact and offers the ability to print opaque white toner in one pass.

“The Xeikon CX3 will help us to extend our product line. We will be able to work with thermal labels and thinner films thanks to the Cheetah toner. We are well-known for our ability to run complex jobs on a wide range of substrates, and the Xeikon CX3 will allow us to continue and expand that service” states Allum. “The fact we can run white toner and that the inks are food safe was also a big selling point. Since we work a lot with trade customers, we don’t always know what we are quoting for, and being BRC and ISO14001 accredited, we need the reassurance that however we run it, we can meet those standards. Having Xeikon technology, we are certain.”

Installation of the Xeikon CX3 is expected to go smooth according to Allum: “Our operators are already trained to use Xeikon’s systems, and everything for the color control is in place. So when the press comes in, we can be up and running straight away. We are currently running two shifts per day and are looking at running three. It’s a busy shop and the shorter the learning curve for our operators, the better.”

Allum also adds that the investment was well-thought-out and other vendor solutions were carefully reviewed before the final decision was made. “That approach has held us in good stead over the years so we looked at solutions from other toner and inkjet suppliers. We ran tests, visited installations and did a lot of research to be sure we made the right choice. Xeikon was the only one that had the solution we felt was most suitable, and that fitted the bill entirely,” he says.

Riding the growth wave

As for where the growth is coming from, Allum states, “There is momentum, and we are on the crest of a wave. We are not taking work from our flexo presses. The work we are gaining in digital is new work for us from current customers and we are also dramatically increasing our customer base. One process complements the other, and we can offer our customers the most cost-effective solution for every job. And the most important thing is that, whatever technology the customer chooses, there is no degradation in quality! The mix of flexo and digital printing positions us well for the future. We can produce one label or many millions. We have to be a jack of all trades in this business, and the Xeikon CX3 will help us do just that.”


Bury St Edmunds operation Abbey Labels Ltd was founded in 1996 and has today 32 employees and a turnover of £4.25m. It produces a wide range of labels from peel and reveal, scratch off, cosmetic, chemical and hazardous, industrial and office, pharmaceutical, promotional and thermal as well as food, bottle and drinks and security and tamper labels. It has British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification and ISO 14001 accreditation.

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