As the label printing market ‘democratises’ with more businesses able to offer short-run full colour labels, not everyone needs high speeds and roll-to-roll converting. The emergence of microbreweries of craft ales, craft conserves, honeys, health drinks and so on, has spread the demand for printed labels away from the mass manufacturers and into the suburbs and country towns of Australia.
Addressing this market in a very capable way are Roland DG’s combined printer and contour cutters. Labels can be ganged up across the width of these wide-format machines and die-cut in a single operation. Roland DG introduced white and metallic inks to its CMYK,Lc,Lm inksets specifically with short-run labels and decals in mind.
Although most CMYK wide format printers can be set up to print labels on pressure-sensitive stock; for a real label application, white ink is a real advantage and metallic is an added bonus, as is a varnish overcoat. For contour kiss-cutting, the inbuilt cutting capability of the Roland printers is a great feature so long as the volume does not get too high. If this happens, or if you need to laminate before cutting, eg for chemical labels, you can always take cutting off-line and add a Roland CAMM-1 GR in 42”, 54” or 64” widths, for well under $10,000.
The Roland DG printer-cutters best suited for label printing (but of course can also produce packaging prototypes, signs, backlits, vehicle wraps, textile transfers etc.) are:
TrueVis VG series
Available in 54” and 64” widths and configurable up to eight colours: CMYKLcLmLk+WH with piezo printheads capable of 900 x 900dpi. Inks are in 500ml pouches and are GreenGuard Gold certified. Minimum media width is 8.25” (210mm) which is useful for when printing labels that remain on a narrow web roll.
Soljet Pro4 XR640
|Roland XR-640 – both labels and large graphics can be combined in one pass for varying size sets of labels/decals/posters|
Available as a 64” wide printer-cutter, colour configuration can be nine channels including metallic silver and white for CMYKLcLmLk+WH+Ag. Maximum print resolution is 1440dpi. GreenGuard-certified inks are in 440ml cartridges except for white and silver which are 220ml. The silver ink can be printed as a solid spot silver or blended with CMYK for 500 colour metallic and pearlescent effects. Minimum media width is 10.2” (259mm) which is useful for when printing labels that remain on a narrow web roll.
RolandDG’s best-selling printer-cutter, this comes in 30” maximum media width. Ink configuration can be up to eight colours, CMYKLcLm+Wh+Ag. As with the Soljet Pro4, the silver can be printed as a spot colour or combined with CMYK for 500 striking metallic effects. Minimum media width is 8.25” (210mm) which is useful for when printing labels that remain on a narrow web roll.
|The desktop Roland VersaStudio BN-20|
The BN-20 is a desktop printer-cutter in 20” media width but has the versatility of its bigger siblings. It is a five-colour machine that can be configured as CMYK+WH or CMYK+Ag metallic. Maximum resolution is 1440dpi and inks come in 220ml cartridges. When configured with the metallic Ag silver, as with the other metallic-capable printers, it can combine with CMYK to produce over 500 striking metallic and pearlescent colours, including Roland’s Metallic Texture Library of different texture fills. Minimum media width is 5.9” (150mm) which is useful for when printing labels that remain on a narrow web roll.
VersaUV LEC series
While the above Roland printer-cutters use GreenGuard-certifies Eco-solvent inks, the VersaUV series use LED UV-curing inks. Two models are available, a 30” and 54”. The Eco-UV inks can print and cure on a wider variety of materials such as foils, BOPP, PE, PET film, clear and metallic stock. Metallic effects are achieved by printing on metallic foil stocks and colour managing using high-end applications from CGS, EFI and GMG. The CMYK inkset can be bolstered by White and a Clear Coat varnish. In one machine you can Print, Varnish, Emboss, Crease and Contour Cut
Small is beautiful
Roland also supplies the necessary software for workflow control and contour cutting impositions. Roland’s VersaWorks is a Harlequin-based Rip and Print solution that can control up to four printers.
Using wide format printer-cutters as label production printers may seem an unusual approach for label traditionalists but many printers, such as Cairns-based Aldine Printers, have built their digital label success on RolandDG printer-cutters, while continuing as Flexo printers for long runs.
The ’Pros’ are low investment cost, versatility, image quality, white and metallic silver ability and the integrated print-and-cut in one machine. Roll-to-roll production can be accommodated with the addition of a motorised take-up unit.
The ‘Cons’ may be speed if demand rises, and roll handling.
Existing label printers may benefit by the added versatility of offering larger labels and die-cut signs to their high volume label customers. Digital and offset printers wanting to diversify may find a Roland printer-cutter and ideal entry-level device.
Either way, when you look at the million-dollar plus price tag of most digital label presses, it’s not a high-risk investment to partner it with a printer-cutter that can do much more, albeit at lower speed. As with all investments, it’s the profit return that counts, and sometimes smaller jobs are significantly more profitable than huge runs.
A short video is available here:
Roland DG Australia