Exploring Postpress options in the fast advancing Digital Arena.
Completely digitizing the embellishment of a printed product, not only means our design and production achieve full flexibility, but the innovative use of digital technology enable our designers and marketers to eventually realize opportunities. One of the choicest decoration processes – Hot Stamping – along with other similar effects, brings many advantages when accomplished using modern digital devices as compared to conventional methods. The benefits range from fast deliveries to no minimum order quantity to unlimited variability to enumerate a few. Of the various options available, it is but a matter of individual suitability (including RoI) to opt one. Interestingly, there is a whole range of products and technologies available to suit different capital outlays and which have the ability to create packaging decoration as per prevailing market needs.
It is a cost-effective, flexible and sustainable choice to integrate the hot stamping process with black toner or inkjet adhesives to achieve a metallic effect. The “Digital Metal” of the German Kurz Group has a series of products which includes stand-alone digital hot stamping machines that use toner hot stamping or inkjet adhesives, as well as in-line hot stamping units that can be combined with digital printing equipment. In fact, Digital Metal is basically a transfer process, not really hot stamping. It has all the same advantages as digital printing, for example, there is no need to hold a lot of inventory, no waste, and processors can produce to order. Hot stamping foil can also be deinked and reslurried without much preparation. More importantly, since the hot foil paper can overprint, one can attain “deeper” colour if one so desires – by overprinting more than once on the same surface. The variable QR code on the holographic hot stamping label, for example, combines digital security, visual appeal along with public secrecy.
Matrix Metallic MX-370MP is a metal pneumatic hot stamping system available from Vivid Laminate Technologies from UK. It can add hot stamping and local UV effects to various papers. Matrix is developed using silicone coating rollers to process textured base paper and uncoated paper. It can also be used for laminating and special effects. Richard Marlow, the company’s sales director, said: “Our Matrix system range opens up endless possibilities and gives packaging printers the ability to create truly incredible finishes, thanks to their ability to apply laminating, digital hot stamping And special effects.”
Actega Metal Print launched the EcoLeaf metal effect module. It originated from the “metallographic” technology and has been further developed since its acquisition from Landa in 2017. It can be used in narrow web printing presses and its working principle is to add a layer of ultra-thin metallic pigment on the printed image (from flexo, silk screen or inkjet printing) and then cure it under UV light. Depending on the printing process used, it can produce tactile metal effects, high-resolution decorations or solid metal printing effects. The company’s website claims that EcoLeaf is a new category of metallization for the Graphic Arts which is used to embellish labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging and more and interestingly, by only using the precise amount of metal required, EcoLeaf eliminates the need for Hot- and Cold foil.
Duplo, represented in India by TechNova Imaging has the DDC810 model which is capable of Spot UV coating on paper with a thickness ranging from 157gsm-450gsm. A Barcode Reader, automates the entire job management process and ensures zero operator intervention. It uses a robust Kyocera inkjet head architecture that offers industry defining 600dpi resolution, the highest in its category. This results into the finest reproduction detail of UV to add tactile effect on the pre-printed paper. DDC’s unique registration mechanism, patented paper feeding system and component architecture, ensures unmatched productivity with zero print sheet waste. It is compatible with HP ElectroInk and most toner-based machines and even offset sheets. Its compact footprint ensures it fits into the most demanding floor spaces.
DDC’s modular foil engine, the DC-XII, does four applications including foiling, lamination, dry coating as well as image coating (spot coating). “The DC XII uses a patented foiling mechanism that sticks on to the toner and comes with an automatic side-to-side flying knife separator system for accurate flush cutting of laminated sheets. The machine also features dust removing and de-curling systems. Together with DDC, it offers an unbeatable digital enhancement option to printers looking to upscale the value of their digital prints for more profits,” says Ajay Nagar, Sr. Manager – PostPress Solutions, TechNova.
AB Graphic first launched the JetFx modular inkjet decoration unit in 2018. Enabling digital cold foiling, glazing, casting and curing effects, this unit is now available as an option for Digicon 3 processing lines. It can also be provided on the Digilase 4.0 laser die-cutting line, which can produce “true” digital labels at one time.”Currently, the variable data capacity of varnishing and bronzing is very limited, so JetFx modular inkjet decoration unit from AB Graphic provides great potential for value-added work, and the details provided are excellent; from fine halftones to large solids with a single design, coupled with variable height, can even provide tactile sensation. Nowadays, everyone wants faster turnover and therefore, hot stamping without die and glazing without plate making eliminates another potential obstacle while achieving this goal. It can be used for flexible packaging and pouch packaging as well,” says Ranesh Bajaj of Vinsak who represents AB Graphics in India.
Domino has used the UV inkjet K600i printing machine installed on AB Graphic Digicon 3 to demonstrate the application of digital cold foiling and partial glazing. Cold foiling can be coated with a single printing rod at a speed of up to 75m/min, while the double-rod system is used for partial glazing at 50m/min. “Domino’s K600i continues to enhance the appearance of brand owners’ products as well as add value to their products. This digital decoration technology enables label processors to simplify their manufacturing processes and increase production efficiency so that they can obtain all the benefits of digitalization in the post-press process,” says a Domino representative.
The two largest products of independent industrial scale systems are MGI and Scodix. MGI is sold by Konica Minolta, and has both sheet-fed and roll-to-roll machine, which can increase the tactile effect and bronzing effect (when the iFoil module is installed). JetVarnish 3D Web can also be used in conjunction with the Color + CMYK printing module using Konica Minolta toner technology. It can handle media ranging from 50-400 microns, including coated paper, uncoated paper and textured paper, self-adhesive label substrates, white or transparent synthetic materials: PP, PE, POPP and PET, lightweight cardboard and shrink film (PVC, PETG). “One of the popular digital enhancement machines in India, with 19 installations across the Indian subcontinent, we are proud to be the leaders in the field,” says Mr.Vijay Kamath of Konica Minolta.
Scodix is represented in India by Monotech Systems and its Ultra series of digital Enhancement printing presses can add multiple UV & Foil effects to four-colour printed paper, with a format up to B2 + (Scodix Ultra) and up to B1 (Scodix E106). The most extensive machine is the new Ultra 101 & 202. Scodix S, Scodix Ultra and Scodix E106 series printers have various functions and applications. Scodix Sense uses embossed decoration to inject fresh and delicate texture and unparalleled touch into the printed products; Scodix Foil digital foiling system is compatible with cold and hot digital foils; Scodix Spot simulates and is better than screen printing; Scodix VDP/VDE variable data printing (with barcode) is for personalization; Scodix Metallic achieves metallic effects; Scodix Braille creates high-quality Digital Braille; Scodix Glitter Digital and inkjet to achieve flash powder special effects; Scodix Crystals realizes true 3D flashing special effects through overlay printing, and Scodix Cast&Cure creates 3D holographic images with high visual impact. All the application functions of Scodix can be integrated in a single Scodix digital efficiency printer. “One amongst the popular digital enhancement machines in India, with over 40+ installations across the Indian subcontinent, we are the preferred choice of our customer not only for our excellent quality parameters but also after sales service whenever required,” says Mr.Ajeet Pareek of Monotech Systems.
For printing companies with HP Indigo narrow-format digital printing presses, the HP GEM system can be operated online to complete post-press processing at one time. It uses JetFx technology to add bronzing, glazing, casting and curing effects.
In the smaller format and scale, which is very interesting for even very small quantity label requirements which we even refuse to print, DTM has developed a desktop hot stamping machine to obtain a low-cost technology to make printed products glow. DTM, until as recently as 2019, known as Primera Europe GmbH, has many hot stamping equipment which can add metal or film effects to blank or pre-printed labels produced by inkjet, laser, LED, offset or flexographic printing. They also have a Pro1050 five colour label printer with the unique Fifth Colour option “white”. The Pro1050 takes creativity to a new level for transparent or even coloured label materials.
Caslon has been providing products for this market. Tracing its beginnings to the 1720s, the company is still a family owned business with Richard Caslon, its current Managing Director. Caslon sells the FoilTech series of desktop systems, which include some automatic paper feed systems for hot stamping on paper. FT22 and FT22F models can add two hot stamping colours to paper with a thickness of no more than 400gsm at one pass.
Intec’s ColorFlare series can be used in conjunction with ColorSplash colour digital printers to add colour bronzing to printed toner and composite films to produce special effects on labels and packaging. It is a compact and environmentally-friendly, dual laminator and foil-flaring device, designed to offer an in-house decorative effects solution for short-run, on demand digital applications, as well as lamination for traditional litho output too. Last year, after the flagship CF1200, the CF350 and CF750 desktops were launched one after another.
If the readers wish to share info about some interesting products that should as well have served us better through this article, please feel free to point out and we shall try to explore the same in one of our future coverages!
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