Numerous macro trends in label and packaging printing require flexible machine systems.
Trends that increase job changes and reduce print runs
At the forefront of Macro Trends are changes in consumer behaviour as well as trends that can be attributed to fashion & design or retail development. For label and packaging printing, this is reflected in the increase in job changes and decreasing print runs.
- Today, packaging designers respond more specifically to the needs of consumer groups. They address baby boomers with a different design than younger consumer groups, increasing the number of packaging designs.
- The trend towards age-appropriate consumer design also increases the variety as labels or packaging are designed more clearly for the older audience, or larger typefaces are used.
- The "I want it now" trend is dominated by a group of buyers who are increasingly ordering on the Internet, some of whom are using their own labels and packaging for shipping.
- The fact that consumers are becoming increasingly aware and want to know what is contained in a package leads to more information and thus more text on a label or packaging. This is reinforced by the variety of languages and the mandatory information required for products requiring explanation, such as pharmaceuticals. These developments are creating a positive trend for booklet labels, but also to shorter print runs, as the information can quickly change.
The Internet of Things (IOT) is especially important for the macro trend technology.
- Labels and packaging are increasingly being equipped with QR codes or NFC tags (near field communication tags). Via the Internet, buyers can view more information or interactive options on their smartphones. This allows the brand owner to differentiate itself from its competition on the store shelf and create a direct link to the buyer. This also includes an enhanced product experience through augmented reality.
- At the same time, we live in a world of networking where changes in the design of labels and packaging are much faster. This results in a wide range of variants and smaller lot sizes, combined with an increasing number of order changes.
Trends that affect the machine configuration and the change of the printing units
The current trend in consumer behaviour towards simplicity in design does not necessarily mean that this also represents less effort in the requirements of the printing technology.
- On the contrary: To realize a rather simple design attractively, often means more effort in printing. High opacity due to screen-printed white, the use of matt and gloss coatings or haptic effects due to thick-layered screen printing are just such examples. And not to forget finishing with hot foil and cold foil: All screen printing units and hot foil units for such jobs must be able to be placed where the respective job demands it with little effort.
- Contrary to the simple design, higher quality consumer goods continue the trend of highlighting a brand with an exclusive design, resulting in at least the same - if not even higher - process variability requirements.
In the Gallus Labelmaster Advanced, all flexographic printing units can be exchanged by either screen printing, hot foil or die-cutting units. Additionally it is also possible to replace them with units from OEM manufacturers. (Source: Picture by courtesy of Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG)
Changeability of the Gallus Labelmaster
The basic version of the Gallus Labelmaster also offers the option of two interchangeable processes within the printing units, for example a screen printing unit and a hot foil stamping instead of two flexo units. Again, the change in any position of the machine is possible. Machines that were configured as a pure flexographic printing line at the time of purchase can be retrofitted with the option of changing two units, for example with a punch or screen printing unit. In this way, a customer can also use the machine for other applications / products and has investment security for a changing product portfolio. If one draws a cost comparison for process changes with machine systems of other types, this results in an annual saving of 12,800 EUR / year compared to a rail system, or 51,200 EUR / year compared to a drop-in variant.
User-friendly features: "Easy-to-Use"
For fast process and job changes, the user-friendly features of a printing press are crucial. This includes the entirety of the "easy-to-use" properties. For example, that during the process change on the primary process level no chain hoist is needed. Or stable printing units in which printing cylinders and anilox rollers are equipped with bearer rings. They ensure consistent print quality by eliminating the formation of gear marks that always occur over time with gear-driven printing cylinders.
The lightweight printing cylinders of the Gallus Labelmaster can be changed in no time at all. A machine with eight printing units requires less than 8 minutes to change, even less when two people are performing the change at the same time. For this purpose, a special clamping system has been developed to accommodate the cylinders. Also of advantage is the practical and ergonomic arrangement of the operating buttons, which, from experience, are installed where the operator expects them.
For maintenance, the printing units can be easily removed so that no machine failure occurs during such operations. When integrating screen printing units, it proves to be an advantage that they are designed and manufactured by Gallus itself and that a separate model is used for each machine type, which is integrated in the control system. Also noteworthy is the design of the chambered doctor blade, with robust ink chambers that require a very small amount of ink from 220 to 1,500 ml. The rounded shape of the ink channel in the chamber blade results in improved circulation of the ink with less tendency to trapped air and allows for easier cleaning. All of these criteria help to make a machine easy to operate for the operator and easy to change over.
With its concept for fully flexible process and job changes at a primary process level, Gallus is fully in line with the requirements of today's macro trends in label and packaging printing. In particular, rapid job and process changes are becoming significantly more important in order to remain competitive and produce efficiently. At the same time, a flexible machine concept means investment security for the user, as it can be quickly adapted to changing market conditions. Thus, it is worthwhile for printers to calculate the cost of day-to-day production on a label printing machine - over the entire life cycle of the respective machine solution. In the course of increasing industrialization in label and packaging printing, the productivity of the machine solution is becoming the main driving force for sustainable business success.