by Filip Weymans
Hybrid presses can be defined as label presses that incorporate two or more printing processes (digital and conventional) in-line with finishing units (varnishing, spot color printing, slitting, die-cutting and different embellishment techniques). Hybrid solutions benefit a label printer and converter with medium to long runs with either limited variation in converting (die cutting, slitting) and/or the need to add conventionally produced features, e.g spot varnish, cold foil.
Today the standalone digital presses and standalone converting line address the largest part of the market. To expand the growth potential of digital, new solutions are needed. Unavoidably, this will convert conventional printed work into digital production through cost optimization. Think of larger volumes of SKU’s with the same die-cut shape, full-color jobs which hold a static embellishing element. These can be printed more effectively with a conventional process and then enriched with digital full-color printing. Trends in the market indicate luxury brands benefit from what their print provider offers: shorter runs, more versions and variations, variable text or graphics, and personalization allowing much greater freedom of creativity. Nevertheless, they do not want to give in to brand identity which can be visualized through embellishing elements. Not unlike luxury brands, promotional brands are too looking to find better ways of connecting with consumers through the use of e-commerce.
Today, Xeikon launches a fully digital hybrid solution based on its (1) digital press (Cheetah or Panther series), the recently developed (2) Xeikon Label Converting Unit (LCU) and (3) Xeikon’s X-800 digital front-end. This solution can be configured to the need of the converter and becomes a powerful production system enabling label converters to step up their productivity whilst remaining fully flexible for all their customers' needs.
The main values of our hybrid label solution are:
From substrate to ready-label: a complete, single-pass production process flow
Eliminates a number of production steps resulting in higher productivity
Reduces waste and setup time
Opens up new business opportunities
“At Xeikon we take customer input seriously. Our solutions are cloud-connected, providing us with a lot of data on how the equipment is performing. This results in the ability to provide more automation in combining production runs to increase efficiency,” said Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s VP of Marketing, ''That is why, along with the presses, we develop fully digital converting and embellishing products such as the Xeikon LCU which can be configured into hybrid print and converting solutions.”
Xeikon hybrid solutions can hold both Xeikon’s Cheetah (dry-toner) as well as Panther (UV inkjet) technologies hence all end-user applications can be addressed through this offering.
Dry-toner is the proven technology for all applications requiring adherence to high food safety standards while delivering the highest, matte-finished quality and achieving high quality on standard natural paper substrates (wine and spirits). Today, the second-generation Cheetah technology is used in Xeikon’s current dry-toner digital presses.
Xeikon’s UV inkjet Panther Technology was introduced in 2017, with a specific focus on labels across industries requiring high durability including the health and beauty markets. These applications make use of the key benefits of the unique features of UV inkjet such as scratch, scuff, and rub resistance.
“Some of our customers call a hybrid solution the best of both worlds,” said Weymans, ”All developments at Xeikon fit into our mantra of digitizing label manufacturing with the purpose of enabling label converters to develop a profitable and sustainable future-proof business.”