From current trends and modular and future-proof solutions to future steps

As the demands of converters and brand owners drive the current trends in the label industry, Patrick Graber, Strategic Product Marketing Manager in BOBST Narrow and mid-web Printing & Converting, deep dives into the different reasons why the DIGITAL MASTER series meets the needs of this fast-changing market.

Leading innovation in label production with BOBST oneLABEL portfolio
BOBST has created the oneLABEL portfolio to offer the most complete range of label printing solutions and services in the industry. With inline flexo, UV digital inkjet and All-in-One technologies, label converters can maximize opportunities with increased flexibility, higher output and more profitability. Building on the four fundamental pillars that underpin BOBST’s vision of the future, oneLABEL leverages the synergy between digitalization, automation, connectivity and sustainability allowing converters to address all types of label applications.

Market complexities
The wide scope of current market trends and the global events that are impacting the industry make label production increasingly challenging. Supply chain disruptions and recent major events, such as the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic, continue to have serious ramifications on the availability of raw materials, transport logistics, and energy prices, all driving up production costs for the converter.

Product proliferation remains high to match rapid changes in consumers’ preferences which means brand owners look for just in time delivery of shorter print runs, so they can reduce inventory and hedge their bets. However, shortages of materials and consumables are also affecting the product offering causing delays in delivery leading to lack of stock in shops. And crucially, more regulation is being introduced to increase the sustainability of packaging, affecting the choice of substrates and manufacturing processes, as well as demanding high recyclability and separability of components.

Finding enough trained machine operators and recruiting new people among the younger generations has become very difficult, with converters often not able to maximize the capacity of their existing machinery. In the face of all these challenges, converters must further improve efficiencies, planning, and forecasting based on fully optimized processes and flexible production. They need to provide a wide portfolio of solutions and applications to take a larger share of the market and remain competitive, while their products must be of high, consistent and repeatable quality.

The benefits of an automated flexo fleet
A high-quality flexo press will handle all medium and long runs with ease, dealing with a wide variety of substrates and multiple types of applications. BOBST’s precisely engineered, highly automated flexo presses and robust ink delivery systems, in combination with a fully integrated digital workflow, deliver solutions that are helping label converters to optimize their operation and increase productivity, while also reducing running costs and waste.

The flagship BOBST MASTER M5 includes a number of features that takes flexo printing to the next level in terms of productivity and quality. Among these is the Print Tutor system, which automatically handles set up and register, using a mark-to-mark detection camera on every printing unit, thereby allowing the operator to check the quality of the printed job.

Another automation feature in flexo is motorized pressure adjustment which is fitted on each printing unit reducing makeready time and bringing waste levels close to zero. Non-stop die-plate changing while the machine is running is another game-changer.

In flexo, colour consistency over longer runs, and between different machines or technologies, is a challenge best met by implementing BOBST oneECG technology, which can cover over 95% of Pantone colours when printing with seven fixed ink stations and also lower makeready time by almost 90%.

BOBST’s long experience in inline flexo has been integrated with its own brand of innovative inkjet technology in the new DIGITAL MASTER series platform, which enables converters to better address the many complexities in label production today.

The DIGITAL MASTER series platform is not what is traditionally described as a “hybrid” configuration, because it is a 100% BOBST All-in-one system, not a combination of technologies that have been developed separately by different manufacturers. As a seamlessly integrated platform, it is built with digitalization in its DNA – the ultimate result of the BOBST vision for the future of packaging production, where every part of the value chain is digital, automated and connected.

Launched in March 2022, the DIGITAL MASTER 340 and DIGITAL MASTER 510 All-in-One label presses are fundamentally changing the way label production is set up by offering a seamless workflow – from PDF to final embellished and cut labels in one pass. They provide a fully digitalized and automated production line, from printing to embellishment and cutting, built on a modular and upgradeable architecture, so customers can order the exact press they need now and then evolve it over time.

By combining the power of its proprietary digital printing technology, analogue modules, ACCUCHECK 100% inline quality inspection, closed loop calibration and integrated digital maintenance device in the DIGITAL MASTER series, BOBST is once again leading innovation in label production.

BOBST in the labels industry
BOBST is fully committed to the labels industry as evidenced, not only by the 1000+ printing presses in the market – inline flexo, digital and All-in-One – that are busy producing all types of labels for global brand owners and retailers every day, but also by its constant dedication to always paving the way for innovation.

A pioneer in inline production with the digitalization of flexo printing, BOBST has over the years introduced numerous industry-leading automation features to control job changes, print pressure, ink management, and more. For inkjet printing, the company now offers the most efficient, flexible, compact and scalable technology in the market today in the form of the unique Cluster printheads, which sit at the heart of the digital engine to deliver an unparalleled performance of 100 m/min in four to six colors at 1200 dpi. In the last five years, BOBST has also expanded its strong flexo team by hiring the best digital talents in the industry, backed up by a well-established team of pre-sales engineers and more than 1000 service engineers.

With the oneLABEL portfolio, BOBST is driving the industry transformation and shaping the future of label production – from 1 to 1 million labels.

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