By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
Label manufacturers convert to digital print technology to provide short turnaround times for cosmetic, food, household care, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical industries. One such manufacturer is Syracuse Label Printing, founded in 1967 with two people in North Syracuse, NY. The company originally offered flexographic printing and operated from a small space in a commercial building.
Today, Syracuse Label Printing offers digital and flexographic printing solutions including cartons, hang tags, flexible packaging, pressure-sensitive labels, shrink sleeves, and custom-made printed products. With 90 employees in a 60,000 square foot facility, the manufacturer produces labels for the Northeastern U.S. and several national accounts.
Digital Label Printing
In 2009, Syracuse Label Printing noticed label market demands growing for shorter runs and multiple SKUs. To keep clients satisfied, the manufacturer entered the digital market with an EFI Jetrion 4000. The press prints up to 120 feet per minute (fpm) with a printable width of 5.5 inches.
According to Peter Norris, marketing coordinator, Syracuse Label Printing, the company chose the EFI Jetrion to enter the digital market on a smaller scale with a modern investment. “We were aware of the growing demand but not fully aware of all the hurdles and challenges that we could face printing digitally,” he offers.
In 2014, Syracuse Label Printing purchased an HP, Inc. Indigo WS6800. The press prints up to 98 fpm in four-color mode and up to 196 fpm in one- or two-color mode. Norris says the press was chosen for its high-quality printing, material versatility, and advanced variable information capabilities. The company uses OEM inks for each of its presses.
“The versatility of our digital equipment allows us to produce a range of decorative products on a variety of material substrates,” explains Norris.
Less than 15 percent of the manufacturer’s work is digital label printing. Label clients include pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic, food, beverage, and household care industries. Norris says the company has requests from every industry for a variety of reasons but tends to see a lot of demand from the food and beverage industry due to SKU proliferation.
Compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, digital printing eliminates the need for plates, ultimately eliminating an entire step in Syracuse Label Printing’s setup process. “Job setups are much quicker on the digital press, as the technology allows for nearly instant registration,” explains Norris.
Additionally, plate-free printing and near-instantaneous registration gives the manufacturer considerable savings in materials—allowing for short runs, multiple SKUs, and cost-effective pilot projects. “Advanced variable information capabilities allow customers to create unique marketing campaigns and promotions with individualized designs per label or sets of labels,” offers Norris.
While digital printing has broadened the manufacturer’s client base, Syracuse Label Printing still has challenges with cost. Norris says digital jobs can quickly become expensive if the right processes are not applied. “You must have a good handle on your finishing equipment capabilities when quoting a job or face added, unplanned costs due to lost time,” he explains. The company overcomes these challenges through lean techniques, running like-sized labels together and having experienced flexographic operators run the finishing equipment.
Recently, Norris sees more customers taking advantage of the variable information capabilities from digital presses. With this technology, customers can add specialty elements like bar codes, text, singular numbers, and photos to each individual label within a roll.
In 2015, Braided Oaks Spirits approached Syracuse Label Printing for 2,500 bottle labels with a 360 degree blue flame. The client requested that the labels were vibrant and eye catching for promotional branding.
The manufacturer printed the labels on the HP Indigo WS6800, which includes options for improved performance for resistance, productivity, and embellishments. The printer is intended for the production of labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging, and shrink sleeves.
Syracuse Label Printing selected shrink sleeve on PETG shrink film for the labels. According to Norris, shrink sleeve was the best method to provide a 360 degree branding. Custom printed shrink sleeves are often selected for an aesthetic appeal and functional use. Shrink sleeves are created with OPS, PET, PLA, and PETG films. PETG film has a high achievable shrink rate and is recyclable and scuff resistant.
Norris says the main challenge for the project was accounting for the complex graphics and fine details that would be displayed over the shrink sleeve’s seam. “Our prepress team overcame this challenge with the aid of our shrink software, which allowed us to manipulate and adjust the design to create a smooth and consistent flame without disruptions on the completed sleeve.”
The labels were completed on time for Braided Oaks Spirits and the client was satisfied with the outcome. They won the 2016 AWA Sleeve Label Award in the Heat Trans-Directional Shrink Sleeve category.
Label manufacturers like Syracuse Label Printing incorporate digital presses to stay on top of market demands for short runs and multiple SKUs. With digital manufacturing techniques, businesses take advantage of faster job setup and instant registration to keep production moving.
Jan2018, Industrial Print Magazine