25th February 2019
What’s new in digital label finishing?
What’s new in digital label finishing? Where is the market heading? Are there any market trends our customers should be aware of? We caught up recently with ABG’s Sales Director, Tony Bell, to hear his take on these and other questions.
In conversation with…
Tony Bell, ABG’s sales director, needs little introduction. He joined the business in 1985 and works closely with customers who are producing fantastic labels, for a wide range of sectors.
Q: To start us off, how important do you think the finishing process is when it comes to converting digitally-printed labels?
Tony: Digital presses produce labels of fantastic, consistent quality at the press of a button.
This is great news for printers on the one hand, but it does limit their ability to stand out from the crowd by producing better labels than anyone else.
This makes the range of creative embellishments that can be produced by analogue finishing processes all the more important. Finishing equipment enables printers to differentiate their offer and create real, added value for their customers.
Q: Have you spotted any trends in the digital label finishing segment?
Tony: We have noticed that label producers, in greater numbers, are specifying more complex finishing equipment, in order to deliver a wider range of embellishments.
It is not uncommon now, for example, for us to produce a system with not just one but two screen, or foil embossing modules.
This is easy to accommodate because our Digicon Series 3 equipment is modular, which enables us to produce finishing systems to meet individual requirements.
Q: Which processes are most popular?
Tony: That all depends on the market sector and application. For example, a finishing system for beverage labels will need greater functionality, to deliver a wider range of embellishments, than a system for standard food packaging labels.
Q: What are the key challenges?
Tony: In the past, digital printing and finishing tended to be set up and operated as two separate processes. However, in recent years we have seen a move towards in-line finishing. This trend has required the finishing side to be able to make ready as quickly as the digital side.
We have responded with a range of automated processes, including automatic die plate mounting and removal, and automatic gap sensing and knife setting, which are helping the finishing side to do just that.
As a result, it is now increasingly common for digital print engines and finishing systems to work in-line, with the support of a buffer interface system. Also, digital printing speeds have been constantly increasing, forcing the need for faster finishing lines.
A good example of the advances that have been made is our own fast track die cutting module. Able to run at 150 metres per minute, over a wide range of repeats, it is one of the world’s fastest semi-rotary die cutting systems.
Q: Lastly, what sets ABG apart from its competitors?
Tony: What sets us apart is that we have been manufacturing innovative print finishing equipment for over 60 years, and our technology has been perfected with our customers’ feedback.
It is only by having equipment out there, across the world, working hard for our customers day in day out, that we can understand how to make it better. It is an evolutionary process that takes place over many years, and there are no shortcuts.
The fact that we have been designing and developing equipment for so long, and that we have installed over 11,000 machines of various kinds, for 2,500 customers across the world, speaks for itself.