by Danny Mertens
Shifting from flexographic to digital label printing may seem daunting but it’s the best thing lion labels has ever done.
The label printing industry has seen a shift in recent years from longer to shorter run printing –different variations for each printing job are now the standard. As customers continue to demand more custom, low-quantity labels, flexographic printers all around the world are urged to come up with economically viable solutions. Even though going digital may seem daunting at first, it is, in fact, an investment well worth the risk. Case in point is Lion Labels, a family-owned, full-service label printer from Massachusetts, that invested in the Xeikon 3300 digital color press a couple of years ago. “The entire process is easier, and the end result is typically higher quality.”
Lion Labels produces high quality, pressure-sensitive labels for a variety of industries, including nutraceutical, wine, cosmetic and personal care, and private labeling. The South Easton-based family business specializes in working with startup companies launching new or test market products, who want to take advantage of the economical short runs that digital printing offers over competing technologies, including flexographic printing.
The entire process is easier, and the end result is typically higher quality
FROM FLEXO TO DIGITAL LABEL PRINTING
“We wanted to be in digital printing to be able to offer it as an alternative to flexo for short run type work”, says Michael Berke, General Manager for Lion labels. “It was all about becoming more efficient in short run production run, rather than making plates and setting up a flexo press, and getting priced out of the game for these types of jobs.”
Like numerous other label printers Lion Labels were faced with increasing SKU’s but decreasing volumes. “There are a lot of new startup companies who just want 1,000 labels, or they want to do some prototyping stuff for market testing. It’s all short run. Sometimes they want numerous versions. That all makes sense for digital printing.”
We wanted to be in digital printing to be able to offer it as an alternative to flexo for short run type work
INTRODUCING XEIKON 3300
After a poor customer experience with another digital printing solution provider, Lion Labels came across the Xeikon 3300 digital color press – Xeikon’s primary narrow web-fed press designed for labels and packaging applications. Berke’s team was immediately impressed with Xeikon’s customer service during the installation of the press, and the ongoing support that followed as Lion Labels began moving production to the Xeikon 3300. Soon they found they could shift more print jobs off of their three flexographic presses and run them on the Xeikon press more effectively.
Efficiency is great but it’s hardly worth anything if the printing quality isn’t up to scratch. Lion Labels found out though they had nothing to worry about. “Color registration-wise, it’s better than flexo”, Berke says. “When it comes to printing gradients and vignettes, it’s better. Even for what I consider difficult jobs, like four color process work, I run it on the Xeikon every time. The entire process is easier, and the end result is typically higher quality.”
Digital printing has grown exponentially for Lion Labels since the Xeikon 3300 was first introduced. Jobs that aren’t as efficient on flexo presses are now run digitally. “ We can print on a wide range of substrates, while being more cost-effective for shorter runs”, Berke says.
So what does the future hold for Lion Labels? “I think we’re at the point now where we understand what we can do with the Xeikon 3300 and what type of business we need to go after to fill up the capacity of the machine.”
We can print on a wide range of substrates, while being more cost-effective for shorter runs
BENEFITS OF DIGITAL LABEL PRINTING
Lion Labels’ case clearly illustrates how a company can take advantage of the current paradigm shift in the tag and label market. Investing in digital printing is investing in the future.
The main benefits of digital printing include:
Reduced turnaround times and less waste
Higher quality printing
More flexibility and versatility in terms of printing jobs
Is your company looking to shift focus towards shorter run printing, just like Lion Labels? Do you require expert advice before switching from flexo to digital printing?