Xeikon held a special press conference at LabelExpo in Brussels to announce VariLine, its new software plug-in for its X-800 Digital Front End. VariLine enables print service providers to create impose labels with different print run requirements and with different sizes into the same print run.
This offers label printers who own Xeikon digital label presses to access new levels of flexibility and to optimise the amount of material used. By allowing combined print runs of unlike labels in the same print run, the companys press users can reduce their production waste and split the print time across multiple jobs, further increasing their profitability and directly improving production capacity.
The software platform offers prepress operators the freedom to create innovative imposition templates that automatically arrange labels into parallel print lanes, irrespective of the run length or the label sizes being used.
In their drive to meet the needs of specific groups of consumers, brand owners are developing more and more product variants, said Filip Weymans, Marketing & Business Development Manager, Labels & Packaging at Xeikon. As a consequence, label printers are being asked to produce more unique labels for an ever-increasing number of different references (SKUs), but with less volumes of each.
This shorter run, more variables-per-job challenge presents an ongoing headache for label printers as it’s obviously important that they optimise material used, said Weymans. The advent of digital imposition, which creates the layout in an instant has helped a lot, but to date this technique could only handle labels of the same size. With the release of VariLane, print operators can now create imposition templates for labels with different references and with different sizes.
When it was first released in 2004, the X-800 Digital Front-End featured a post-RIP imposition function which defined how individual designs were to be positioned on imposed repeat.
Labels were typically arranged in a Step&Repeat configuration so that they could be die-cut into separate rolls during the finishing process. One design SKU only needed to be RIPd once and could be repeated over and over, thereby drastically reducing the RIP time needed – last minute corrections and changes were also very simple to carry out.
Jeroen van Bauwel, product manager for Xeikon’s digital frontends, said Xeikon has a strong focus on the self-adhesive label market. In talking with the more experienced label printers we recognised that there was a tremendous amount to be gained with them being able to print multiple lanes – therein lies at the origin of VariLane.
Recent simulations have indicated that label printers could reduce their cost by up to 30% based on combining different job portfolios into a single production run. The new VariLane also illustrates the power and importance of a dedicated digital workflow which ensures that you maximise the productivity and capability of your digital press.
With its ability to create a single imposition scheme for labels of different sizes, the software now offers the perfect solution for setup and run-waste savings not previously achievable in digital production.
Label printers can now plan, print and output orders for multiple references and different label sizes in the same print run. This job optimisation directly minimises the amount of material waste and directly reduces the press run time quite significantly, and this naturally increases profitability and improves productivity and press capacity every day.