by Danny Mertens
Flexolabels Sp.z.o.o., Poland
Flexolabels Sp.z.o.o., a leading label printer based in Wroclaw in Poland, has taken delivery of a Xeikon 3300 digital label press to further drive business and address customer demand. Today the company specialises in digital label printing for the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries. Established in 2013, Flexolabels moved into digital production five years ago with the installation of a Xeikon 3030 digital label press to extend its capabilities and enhance the company’s portfolio potential with new solutions and new products.
Izabela Harczuk, CEO tells the story of how the company has grown, “Today, Xeikon machinery is driving our business forward. The most significant benefit is the opportunity to extend our product range. Adopting Xeikon digital technology has enabled us to engage with several new industries and propose new solutions which were not possible before. When Flexolabels was established, we were an ordinary flexo label printer using traditional processes (flexography, typography) but right from the start we were looking out for new solutions that would allow us to extend our production potential and enable us to offer a range of new and original products. It took us more than a year to review the digital technology available. We knew we needed to find the best digital technology partner for our company and for our customers. In 2015 we invested in a Xeikon 3030 full colour digital press and since then our business has gone from strength to strength. Now we have upgraded to a Xeikon 3300 with even more advantages enabled by Xeikon’s amazing X-800 digital front end - increased speeds for faster delivery times, shorter runs and the ability to produce even more complex and creative labels. Our decision to work with Xeikon was definitely the right choice.”
The flexibility of a Xeikon digital press
Flexolabels’ decision to invest in a Xeikon 3030 was partly due to knowing the press could be upgraded in the future to other models such as the 3300 or the more extended 3500 version. Harczuk continues “At the beginning, we didn’t have the experience we have now. We selected a model appropriate for narrow web (330 mm) but printing at lower speeds. At the time, we believed the speed of the press corresponded to the speeds of our traditional presses after factoring in downtimes, swapping printing matrices or replacing the inks. However, Xeikon’s digital press was adapted to continuous work and could realistically print up to 20 hours in a 3-shift system, without any downtime.”
After 3 years their customers began to place increasingly bigger orders with the expectation of increasingly shorter delivery times. Harczuk says, “The lack of any requirement to invest in polygraphic pre-press processing had changed our customers’ approach to label ordering and there was an obvious appreciation of the quality of the labels we were able to produce with the Xeikon equipment. Clients were able to go online and alter the appearance of labels from one order to the next as they pleased. Introducing new versions, running shorter batches and making a new visual identification was no longer a problem for them or for us as the label manufacturer. With our latest investment and thanks to the upgrade in speed on the Xeikon 3300 (which only took a few hours and did not require any moving or shifting of the press), we have doubled speed and productivity. Our printing speed at 20m/min corresponds to a speed of 45-50 m/min in conventional printing (again taking into consideration downtime related to the time it takes to switch between jobs with conventional technology). Thanks to this, the payback period for the Xeikon press has been practically cut in half and the differences in traditional printing and digital printing costs have become even more blurred.”
The Xeikon digital press gave Flexolabels maximum opportunities to diversify their options in several ways - from printing variable data, numbers and images, to printing short runs and providing ecologically sound solutions through printing with dry toner for accredited food safety as well as security type solutions which include brand security (micro printing, using toners visible only in UV light). The company’s awareness of the impact of the packaging industry on the environment was one of the most important factors in their choice of digital technology.
Flexolabels and the Ecological Aspect
The company’s choice of a Xeikon press amongst other things was based on the company\s recognition of the amount of waste being generated within the packaging industry in the form of inks or raw materials, or emission of gases into the atmosphere (such as ozone (which is formed during the printing process by pigments cured by UV light. Harczuk explains, “Thanks to our Xeikon digital label press, we are able to minimize the amount of raw material waste we produce. We utilize Xeikon’s VariLane, a software plug-in to the Xeikon X-800 Digital Front End making it possible to create digital imposition templates with different SKUs and different sizes, within the same print job. This has allowed us to combine various jobs on one substrate so that we only need one width of raw material. Jobs can be optimally combined both lengthwise and across a single substrate – this results in the reduction of substrate waste by up to 10%. Furthermore, the dry toners used in the Xeikon press are safe for the operator, the product and the environment: any contact with them (or even accidental consumption) poses no harm to human health, and their potential disposal is much cheaper than for UV pigments (UV dyes and inks). Thanks to the toners being cured in a process devoid of UV lamps, no noxious gases are emitted into the environment (zero volatile organic compounds - VOCs). Dry toner does not require processing water and does not cause water contamination. It is worth a mention that the labels printed on a Xeikon press are suitable for recycling since the toner is easy to remove and does not contain any harmful chemical substances. Xeikon’s digital technology gives us everything we need to address our ecological goals.”
Flexolabels is building its business model with an eye to the future and is looking to further invest. Izabel Harczuk concludes, “We are seriously considering investing in another digital press from Xeikon because the benefits so far have been invaluable to us, especially during these atypical circumstances. For example, the option to rapidly change the design of printed labels due to the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us meet our customer’s requirements and the ability to print and deliver labels within 24 hours has also been very much appreciated by our clients.”