Xeikon forays into UV inkjet technology

Xeikon introduces the new Panther technology and launched the first UV inkjet label press in the series at Xeikon Café 2017.

With the introduction of Panther technology, Xeikon strategically moves into UV inkjet printing. Following the global launch, Xeikon released its first UV inkjet press on the Panther platform, the PX3000. The series of announcements was made at the recently-concluded Xeikon Café Packaging Innovations 2017 event.

Visitors to Xeikon Café 2017, which took place from 28 to 31 March in Lier, Belgium, were amongst the first to see the PX3000 in action. The annual event attracted more than 800 unique international visitors from 49 countries – a record number of delegates to the conference yet. According to Xeikon, 10% of the visitors came from Asia.

Panther & the Xeikon PX3000

Xeikon developed Panther technology in response to growing needs in the digital label printing space. The UV inkjet platform is intended to complement Xeikon’s dry toner label press portfolio, which currently includes the Xeikon 3000 series and Xeikon CX3 (Cheetah) label presses.

Panther is based on drop on demand (DoD) inkjet technology. It utilises PantherCure UV inks, which are mercury cured. Kyocera 600 dpi heads are used, with 4 grey-levels, and incorporates automated head cleaning and maintenance. Panther uses dedicated UV inks with no intermediate pinning required.

The first press based on the Panther technology is the Xeikon PX3000. With the introduction of the PX3000 digital label press, Xeikon hopes to be able to drive new applications in digital label printing and produce labels in the most efficient way.

The machine features a web width of 330 mm, and a maximum speed of 50 m/min. Colour configuration is CMYK plus white, with a print quality of 600x600 dpi. Substrates can range from self-adhesive media with facestocks including paper, PVC, PP, PET and PE. According to Xeikon, speed, durability and cost-effectiveness for digital runs are the new press’ primary strengths.

It is powered by the Xeikon engineered X-800 digital front-end, which is the same system used by the dry toner digital presses. The X-800 accepts various file formats and tackles demanding variable-data print jobs at rated engine speeds. Intuitive and based on open standards, the DFE allows the implementation of flexible and fully automated workflows in any production environment.

“Digital printing is more than speed and output. It is about producing a numerous number of jobs in the most effective and efficient way, which is why workflow is so crucial — something we can’t emphasis enough. The X-800 workflow is therefore a key differentiator of the Xeikon PX3000,” said Jeroen Van Bauwel, Xeikon’s Director Product Management. “From day one, we have been developing our own workflow technology dedicated to digital printing that allows customers to gain maximum value out of Xeikon’s dry toner, and now UV inkjet, presses. Our customers frequently tell us that by using the X-800 features, such as job optimizer and many others, they can set themselves apart from their competition.”

UV Inkjet: The Complementary Technology for Dry Toner

The PX3000 will be first targeted to the industrial label printing market. Xeikon identified an opportunity to widen its role in the market for self-adhesive label applications where dry toner is not the most optimal solution, but UV inkjet printing can bring more value.

A few examples include digitally printed labels, previously produced on UV flexo or screen-print, where a glossy appearance and tactile look and feel is desired, or a high durability requirement for respectively the health & beauty and industrial end-use. There are plenty of end-use applications in the self-adhesive label market, each with their own requirement.

“The Xeikon PX3000 is complementary to our dry toner presses and the choice of the label converter will be based on the end-use markets such as food, health & beauty, industrial, wine & spirits, pharma, and beverage, they serve. Each of those markets have their specific needs — there is no one-size-fits-all,” Van Bauwel continued.

“Inkjet and electrophotography are different technologies, each with pros and cons, and the choice is end-user dependent. We see UV inkjet as a complementary offering that addresses customer needs, for example, in strong durability, extra glossy effects and scratch-resistance results, while recognizing the advantages of dry toner in other applications where high print quality, food safety, and compatibility with challenging substrates such as natural paper are key,” Van Bauwel continued.

More details on the benefits and complementarity of UV inkjet and dry toner is described in a white paper, published by Xeikon.

The entry into UV inkjet comes after acquisition of Xeikon by Flint Group, which meant more resources for the division. As it adds a new printing technology to its portfolio of label presses and its knowledge in the digital printing market, Xeikon hopes to be able to be better advisors and aid label converters find the best solutions to their needs.

“Label converters and brand owners are increasingly recognizing the value digital printing brings to the market, but many converters are unsure which direction to take to bring digital into the fold,” said Filip Weymans, VP of marketing for Xeikon. “In addition, some of our current dry toner users would like to move into inkjet as well, in order to extend their digital offerings. Through our deep industry experience and expertise, and offering both technologies for label printing, Xeikon stands ready to help them make these important decisions. We believe that both dry toner and inkjet will be required in the foreseeable future to meet market needs.

Visitors to Labelexpo Europe 25-28 September in Brussels will also have the opportunity to see live demonstrations of the Xeikon PX3000 UV inkjet press on stand 5C29. Commercial availability of the new Xeikon PX3000 UV inkjet press is scheduled for October 2017.

This article and more in the latest issue of Print Innovation Asia.

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