This month’s product review is an interesting one in the Konica Minolta AccurioLabel 190. The print engine was essentially born from Konica Minolta’s hugely successful Bizhub (now AccurioPress) range of cut-sheet production print devices, so is well tried and proven.
It images with CMYK dry toner at up to a very respectable equivalent of 1200 x 3600dpi, with 1200 x 1200dpi as standard. The first version was known as the Bizhub PRESS c71f, with one installed at Victoria’s Holmesglen TAFE for training purposes.
The first one was installed at Brookvale, NSW’s Foxcil facility shortly after PacPrint 2017 and has clocked up almost a full year of production.
The R&D people at Konica Minolta saw the potential to develop a moving web version targeting the short-run self-adhesive label market and first showed a prototype at Ipex 2010 in London. Being dry toner, the image is fused on top of the substrate which means that any standard label stock can be used. Specialist materials, such as thin heat-sensitive ones, are accommodated by tweaking the fuser temperature. Synthetics such as Yupo, PP and PET can also be printed.
The other advantage of fused toner is that there is no fluid to permeate the substrate – making it suitable for indirect food labelling. There is also no need for UV curing.
AccurioLabel’s web width is the same as the sheet width for cut-sheet printers at 330mm. A specially adapted version running a 250mm web is available and one is installed at Mr Sticker on the NSW Central Coast. Several more of the 330mm wide machines are in operation around the country.
As to be expected, the dynamics of running a moving web through a digital toner engine requires dedicated reel handling and finishing. Speed needs to be matched to paper/film type and 13.5 metres-per-minute is the most common linear speed for pressure-sensitive materials. Adjustments for 18.9 and 9.5 linear mpm are made depending on substrate.
Repeat lengths are something that digital presses are very flexible at because there are no plates or cylinders. In normal mode, images up to 480 x 320mm can be printed and in ‘banner mode’ 1195 x 320mm long prints are possible. The repeat length is effectively up to 1 metre, and is set along with imposition in the supplied AccurioLabel Imposition software.
The AccurioLabel 190 is delivered as a roll-to-roll device with nearline or offline finishing. Konica Minolta’s Industrial Print division is fostering co-operative arrangements with third party manufacturers of unwind, die-cut, lamination, matrix stripping and rewinding equipment to supply a single-source solution, or many customers will already have web finishing lines in-house. There is also the option of digital finishing with the JetVarnish JV3DW from MGI, a company in which Konica Minolta owns equity.
The AccurioLabel 190 is supplied with reel unwind and rewind stations which make for a compact area footprint of just 5 x 3 metres, including surrounding working space. The main imaging unit operates on single phase power, with the unwind/rewind units requiring 3-phase. Weight at 949kg overall means that most floors will fall within the loading requirement.
With the label market gravitating towards small-to-medium run lengths – much in the same way as commercial print is going – the AccurioLabel 190 appears ideally positioned to take advantage of this trend. In the cut-sheet world, machines are rated in monthly duty cycles or the number of A4 impressions it can comfortably print. While the official duty cycle of the AccurioLabel 190 is ‘in excess of 70,000 linear metres’ per month, Mark Brown, Product Marketing Manager for Industrial Print, reports that volumes in excess of 10,000 linear metres are quite common for the devices in a single month.
Brown estimates that investment cost is one-third to half as much as other ‘high-end’ digital label presses. As with all production equipment, servicing is of vital importance and, with Konica Minolta coming from the office and production print field with cut-sheet printers, a two-hour response time is available in the event of breakdown.
The all-important label image quality is a given due to Konica Minolta’s Simitri HD toners, the 1200dpi resolution and image processing software that ‘thins’ the lines of very fine text and barcodes – making them more legible even in reverse-print panels. Colour quality – although CMYK and without white ink – is near-photographic thanks to Konica Minolta’s years of experience in both analogue and digital imaging.
The AccurioLabel 190 fits a very ‘sweet’ spot in the label production market, between ‘desktop’ basic devices and ‘high-end’ digital presses. It may even take on Flexo short-run work where white ink is not required.
For both established label printers and commercial printers wanting to get into labels, it could be the ideal entry into a digital market that is showing signs of very good growth.
Konica Minolta Australia Pty Ltd