Product Launches You Might Have Missed in 2022
Last year was a whirlwind. Between emerging from a pandemic, battling a supply chain crisis, and conferences and events like PRINTING United Expo returning in a big way, 2022 had a lot going on.
And while 2022 posed challenges to the printing industry, Marco Boer, VP of IT Strategies, says it’s actually been quite a good year for packaging converters overall.
“One of the reasons why packaging is such a great industry, especially in comparison to commercial print, is that there’s really no alternative, right?” Boer poses. “It’s not like you can put things out electronically and communicate them. You have to have a physical product. And so, the margins have always been better in package printing.”
With the sudden jump back to a sense of normalcy after two years of remote working, virtual conferences, and simply trying to stay afloat, there are probably some announcements you missed along the way. But don’t fret — we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at a sampling of product launches from 2022.
MUTOH’s VerteLith RIP Software
To kick off 2022, MUTOH announced that its eco-solvent family of printers now come standard with MUTOH VerteLith RIP software, offering a powerful suite of features designed to streamline production and create vivid output.
MUTOH VerteLith also features two enhanced preview functions. The soft proof function simulates the color of the printed output on the screen and the RIP preview function displays the actual printing dots on the screen prior to output. It also includes the Pantone spot color library.
Prinect Easy Control from Heidelberg
In March, Heidelberg introduced additions to its color measurement and control systems, along with the Prinect color workflow, as a response to the growing demands for efficient and dependable quality control. Through Prinect Easy Control, Prinect Axis Control, Prinect Image Control, and Prinect Inpress Control, Heidelberg offers the market four spectral measurement systems for print shops of all sizes, and sheetfed offset presses of all performance classes.
End-to-end spectral measurement, patented color control, and a further enhanced Prinect color workflow facilitate rapid, low-waste job changes, and quality monitoring and logging for production runs on all Speedmaster presses.
“The consistent development of the entire Heidelberg spectral color measurement portfolio gives commercial and packaging print shops of all sizes the opportunity to optimize their color workflow, moving it closer to the smart print shop model — even as far as autonomous printing,” explains Jürgen Mittmann, senior manager of product management sheetfed at Heidelberg.
Autonomous printing is especially important because of a skilled worker shortage in 2022 that spanned across the entire industry, with no signs of improvement, according to Boer.
“Focus on labor is going to be a huge issue in 2023,” Boer says. “It’s always been an issue, but it’s going to be a bigger issue as older workers retire. And then ultimately, you know, as we look towards having even more productive digital printing technology, we are going to be able to shift some of these pesky short-run jobs over to digital printing using less labor. And so that’s really our long-term vision right now for the next five to 10 years, and we’re at the beginning of that journey.”
Koenig & Bauer Durst’s Delta SPC 130 FlexLine Eco+
In May, Koenig & Bauer Durst used its SPC Open House to unveil the Delta SPC 130 FlexLine Eco+ industrial production press for run lengths ranging from one to millions of square meters. The entry-level, compact model offers corrugated converters a new route into digital packaging, and uses water-based, food-safe, sustainable inks.
At the same open house, Koenig & Bauer Durst also introduced Dynamic Nozzle Management (DNM). This tool reduces the printhead maintenance across its Delta SPC 130 product portfolio.
BOBST announced the launch of the first subscription plan, BOBST Connect, in June. BOBST Connect is a user-centric platform that connects converters and brand owners to a digitalized and automated workflow, giving them clear visibility and control of their production process.
The new package — BOBST Connect Essential — has also been available since July, and offers a host of features and functionalities to help customers optimize their packaging production at every stage.
The Gallus One
Gallus launched its first fully digital label press, the Gallus One. The August product launch marked a new addition to the company’s conventional and hybrid portfolio of label presses.
The Gallus One was specifically designed to remove the total cost of ownership barrier for the adoption of reel-to-reel digital labels with the highest level of automation and cloud-based technologies. It’s built on the Gallus Labelmaster press platform, and utilizes a host of features to achieve high levels of automation and press efficiency, with UV inkjet print quality and stand-out print speeds of up to 70 meters per minute.
Boer says that 2022 was a great year for the digital printing of labels, specifically inkjet.
“The breakthrough that really happened in 2022 is on the inkjet side of digital label printing, because the inkjet side — for the first time — really got to the level of quality that these converters were willing to accept. So, for years, they’ve been used to Indigo quality or Xeikon quality,” he says. “Well we’ve now moved to these 1,200 dpi printheads, which have much higher resolution, and so now all of a sudden it’s very competitive. So, we’re seeing a big shift in the interest, particularly among these private equity-owned label converters.”
Xeikon’s Digital Hybrid Label Solutions
In September, Xeikon introduced a fully digital hybrid solution based on its digital press (Cheetah or Panther series), the recently developed Xeikon Label Converting Unit (LCU), and Xeikon’s X-800 Digital Front End. This solution can be configured to the needs of the converter, and becomes a production system enabling label converters to step up their productivity while remaining fully flexible for all their customers’ needs.
“At Xeikon, we take customer input seriously,” explains Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s VP of marketing. “Our solutions are cloud connected, providing us with a lot of data on how the equipment is performing. This results in the ability to provide more automation in combining production runs to increase efficiency.”
ACTEGA ACTExact SafeShield UV-LED Inks
Also launched in September, the ACTEGA ACTExact SafeShield UV-LED Inks were unveiled at Labelexpo Americas 2022. The SafeShield UV-LED inks are an extensively certified ink product, developed for use in low migration applications such as indirect food contact, cosmetics, and nutraceutical packaging.
The ACTExact SafeShield UV-LED inks were formulated with protocols in place, meeting a comprehensive list of global and regional regulatory requirements.
“One of our key objectives at ACTEGA is to offer products that not only put consumer safety at the forefront, but enable our customers to confidently adhere to a very complex and rigorous regulatory process established for the labels and packaging industry,” explains Mell C. Bishop III, global market manager, labels, at ACTEGA. “By developing products that meet numerous exacting regulations, on a global scale, we aim to take some of the stress out of packaging production, allowing our customers to spend more of their time on what they do best — delivering high-quality labels and packaging that meet brands’ high expectations.”
XSYS Woodpecker Nevis Surface Screening
September was popular for launches. That same month, XSYS introduced Nevis — a new version of ThermoFlexX Woodpecker surface microstructure technology that enables higher imaging speeds of flat-top dot flexographic plates for standard white inks.
“Woodpecker Nevis screening improves overall brilliance and makes it possible to save on white ink costs, while also simplifying and speeding up the imaging process,” says Christophe Lievens, global sales director, XSYS Prepress. “In combination with the ThermoFlexX Multiplate option, which allows multiple resolutions to be imaged on the same plate, it delivers a more cost-effective and competitive solution that will help printers optimize OEE and reduce waste.”
The Fife GuideLine Digital Line Guide Sensor from Maxcess
Sometimes, it’s easy to miss an announcement during the fourth-quarter rush. Introduced in November, the Fife GuideLine Digital Line Guide Sensor features a 32 mm field of view, a color touch screen in 19 languages, the ability to touch the line you want to guide to, and the ability to sense challenging materials like low-contrast lines, black-on-black lines in tire and rubber applications, and tabs on lithium-ion battery webs.
“With GuideLine, we wanted to give users the most accurate line guiding sensor on the market with the widest field of view at a competitive price point,” says Darren Irons, global product manager for Fife GuideLine. “We think users will love being able to simply touch the line or 2D pattern they want to guide to, especially on-the-fly without having to stop the machine.”