by Filip Weymans
Reducing gaps in production capacity and ever decreasing lead times were the key driving factors for Rudolf Koehler Etiketten GmbH to invest in a Xeikon CX300 digital printing system. The system was installed in June 2022 to complement a Xeikon CX3, which has been delivering excellent results for the last six years. “We have seen a significant need for expansion over the last three years, particularly during the pandemic, when the supply chains in the packaging industry were broken, resulting in increased demand for labels as an alternative medium,” explains Michael Markus, Managing Director at Koehler Etiketten.
The existing Xeikon CX3 was operating at such intense levels, that it was time to act. In addition, up to a further five machines for producing and finishing labels needed to be utilised. Another deciding factor to acquire a further Xeikon digital press were the ever shorter lead times customers were demanding. “We urgently needed additional capacity to avoid having to change the web widths and substrates every day on a single Xeikon press," says Markus.
Several factors contributed to that press being another Xeikon machine. Firstly, operators are already familiar with the manufacturer’s dry toner technology. Secondly, the dry toner concept is ideally suited for food labels, which is a mainstay of Koehler’s label business. Another benefit is the huge variety of substrates the Xeikon press is able to handle without the need for any special surface treatment, as is the case in inkjet printing, for instance. Last but not least, Markus points to Xeikon’s pricing structure as a decisive factor: “The absence of click charges enables us to decide on the use of consumables ourselves, which was a key driver in our decision to purchase our first Xeikon press.”
From short runs to millions of copies
The Xeikon CX300 is a full-colour printing system including opaque white in a single pass. It comes with a food-safe toner, reaches a maximum speed of 30 m/min and achieves a high-quality image with a resolution of up to 1,200 dpi. Koehler Etiketten uses the press for jobs ranging from 300 to millions of units in a wide variety of formats. This includes high-quality sleeves for shipping in a 320 x 500 mm format and customised mini labels with consecutive barcodes, for instance. Koehler Etiketten chose VariOne, the AI-inspired software solution from Xeikon, enabling the company to print 100,000 labels or more with a different background in a single batch.
In addition to white ink, which comes with the Xeikon CX300 press as standard, Koehler was also impressed with the possibilities of printing with metallic tones. As a result, silver was installed with the new press and is being used for premium labels for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors. In particular during the current paper shortage, Koehler Etiketten is harnessing the high printing quality of the Xeikon CX300 press, purchasing grass paper as a partial substrate substitute. By applying Xeikon white ink underneath the printed images, such as text or free spaces, the fact that the paper used isn’t white is hardly noticeable at all, enabling Koehler to maintain its ability to supply its customers, particularly in the food sector.
From self-adhesive to modern labels
Koehler Etiketten was founded by Rudolf Koehler in 1939. The company has been producing self-adhesive labels using traditional book printing, flexo, screen printing (both rotary and flat) as well as modern digital printing ever since. In 2005, Michael Markus took over as Managing Director from the founder’s daughter, now running the business alongside his wife and son. With its 20 staff members, the company achieves an annual turnover of around 3 million euros. Its core business activities include labels for food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and chemical products. Koehler Etiketten is DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 certified, meeting all required standards for the pharmaceutical and food industries. With a renowned customer base from the EU, Switzerland and England, the majority of labels is delivered within Germany, including to pharma giant Bayer.
Caption for picture, from left to right: Michael Markus, Yannick Markus (both members of the management), Peter Mut (operator CX3 / CX300), Thomas Bienias (production manager and operator CX3 / CX300)