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This article first appeared in Specialist Printing Worldwide - Issue 1 2020 on February 23rd, 2020

Do hybrid inkjet label solutions offer the best of both worlds? The result is more powerful than separate analogue and inkjet processes, believes Paddy O’Hara

Paddy O’Hara is IIJ’s Business Development Director

For those looking for short run label solutions, digital technologies have always been attractive. Both toner and inkjet solutions have long heralded a digital revolution, but whilst it is now commonplace, it can never replace analogue technologies, only enhance and improve it. That’s why at Industrial Inkjet (IIJ) we like to refer to a digital evolution instead. Hybrid technologies are now in vogue, but are they really the ideal solution and the answer to all applications? As with everything, it depends on your circumstances. There are several things to consider:

    If you are simply producing coloured labels with minimum finishing requirements, such as die cutting and lamination, then maybe
    an offline or near-line digital solution works – although you still may not benefit from reduced stock levels as the digital rolls need to be stored prior to finishing. If you are producing complex labels that need additional processes such as low cost flexo background and spot colours, foiling, varnishing, embossing etc., then an onpress inline solution is the perfect way. Putting one of IIJ’s ColourPrint HiQ modules onto an existing flexo press gives the user the power to include variable high-resolution colour images and text on multi-process labels.
    For a small label company, adding another piece of standalone hardware for near-line production can be problematic and lead to
    additional costs of ownership; there is the extra space, services, staff, and storage of WIP etc. This is where hybrid solutions score
    well, particularly solutions that do not require extensive surgery on the press or require the press to be extended. Using Konica Minolta’s high resolution KM1800i printheads, IIJ’s in-line inkjet modules are some of the most compact on the market, allowing high quality digital label capabilities to be added to an existing press (without removing multiple flexo stations). A compact footprint along with high efficiency LED curing allows the IIJ system to be used exactly when and where it’s needed, especially on rail mounted press adaptors.
IIJ print engine on a flexo base
    Many inkjet label systems require specific label stocks that are more expensive than flexo stocks and do not always lend themselves to some of the additional processes. With an on-press solution, low cost primers can be added inline so standard stocks can be utilised, saving
    money and reducing stock inventory.
Short run colour self-adhesive labels can be produced using
IIJ’s ColourPrint HiQ engines
    The press speed is governed by the slowest process, and for a long time inkjet solutions have been offered at between 25 to 50 m/
    minute. Reducing the speed of inline production undermines the value-add of a digital solution and can make offline or near-line solutions look more attractive. But what if the inkjet solution is run at 80 to 100 m/min or even 200m/min for monochrome variable data? Then the on-press inkjet solution is no longer the limiting point. IIJ label modules typically operate at 80 to 100m per minute, and for
    text and variable data, offer speeds from 100 to 200m per minute.
  • A supplier of hybrid technologies since 2010, IIJ believes that by evolving the analogue label production process through innovative use of inkjet, the result is much more powerful than the separate processes alone. Short run colour self-adhesive labels can be produced using IIJ’s high resolution ColourPrint HiQ engines suitable for premium labels used in the food and beverage sector, personal care such as shampoo and cosmetics, nutraceutical labelling, and labels for consumer goods. For industrial labels, coding and marking labels, including security labels, the MonoPrint series really hits the spot. Clothing swing tags and RFID labels are also easily produced by combining our variable data capabilities with our latest colour management capabilities, giving accurate spot colour identifiers required in this market. If migration and set off concerns exist for an application, IIJ also has a range of solutions using low migration inks.

Customer Story

"The IIJ solution has enabled us to grow our business significantly by going into new markets... it has revolutionised our business."

Read more about how we helped Trader Plus to expand into significant new markets, enabled by digital inkjet technology.

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