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McLoone prints one-third of its flexible labels digitally on a DSI UV-curable inkjet press from SPGPrints

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Press release from the issuing company

Boxmeer, Netherlands - McLoone, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA, an industrial label converter and nameplate maker, has boosted productivity, accelerated throughput, reduced material costs and increased profitability by migrating flexible label production from screen to digital with its SPGPrints DSI® UV-curable inkjet press.

Since installing the press in early 2014, the whole way the company operates its flexible label production has been transformed. The industrial labels (stickers or decals) produced by the company are, by nature, short run products, printed in batches in runs from approximately 100 linear meters (a few hundred linear feet) to a maximum of about 3650m (approx. 12,000ft). Previously, this work was carried out on the company’s 12 flatbed screen presses.

Keith Rosenthal, vice-president of manufacturing at McLoone, comments: “We were experiencing heavy pricing pressure, and required to fulfil several dozen orders each day. We recognized that, by relying exclusively on flatbed screen, we were unable to achieve our growth potential due to the lengthy setup times and complicated workflows. We needed to re-engineer the industrial label manufacturing process.”

McLoone selected SPGPrints’ DSI press after being impressed with its solid build and compact design during demonstrations at Labelexpo Americas 2012. A five-color press, featuring opaque white along with standard CMYK, has a 333mm (13in) width and can handle the substrate program supplied by McLoone, which ranges from 51 micron (0.002in) to 254 micron (0.01.in) in thickness. The company was also attracted by the press’s ability to print on a wide range of substrates with its specially formulated inks.

The single-step digital printing operation replaces as many as 20 labour-intensive screen production steps, which included custom-made ink formulations for every colour, stock cutting, screen imaging for every color, and printing each color on separate machines. McLoone also invested in an off-line digital laser cutter to accelerate finishing by eliminating the need for dies.

SPGPrints helps with prepress

While a digital process results in a simpler, cost-efficient workflow, those who adopt it have to learn about prepress. McLoone’s digital manager and SPGPrints trained staff in file handling, detailing cut sizes, and other aspects of digital workflow and color specification.

The installation was a special challenge for both McLoone and SPGPrints, as this represented the first DSI installation in the USA. Mr Rosenthal comments. “While we were impressed with the DSI’s design, what sold us most on SPGPrints was their reputation for high quality and dependability, which we needed because we had one shot at this business and could not afford to be wrong. Our faith in their reputation was so strong that we were willing to go ahead even if we would be the first in the USA to install.”

“Because we were dealing with new materials and new printing technology, we knew enough to expect problems – and there were problems. The SPGPrints engineers and customer service team did well to stay with us at every twist and turn as we systematically tackled each one.”    

Meeting customer requirements

McLoone’s customers require durable label construction and variable data, and a UV-curable digital solution was essential.

“Industrial labels must perform for several years, perhaps resisting abrasion in the logistics chain, extreme weather and sunlight, water and corrosive chemicals,” explains Mr Rosenthal. We subject samples to accelerated weathering (‘QUV’) tests for outdoor durability, and a range of chemicals, including household and industrial chemicals and detergents. The ability of SPGPrints’ inks to withstand these conditions was a principal reason for investing in the DSI press.”

Print quality has improved, too:

“With the DSI press, we have perfected half-tone reproduction, eliminating the occurrence of grainy appearances” he continues. “We can achieve visually appealing graphics with high gloss, photo-equivalent quality and more precise registration in a single pass, rather than four as with screen.”

The addition of variable data by the DSI press not only eliminates a separate post-press process, but facilitates the use of numbering and human and machine-readable track-and-trace information on both industrial and consumer products and components.

The company soon achieved UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) accreditation for safety labels produced on the DSI using Flexcon laminates. This has reduced the cost of the approval process and given McLoone as competitive edge in the industrial label market.

By increasing automation, reducing costs and accelerating throughput the effect of digital at McLoone is clear:

Mr Rosenthal concludes: “When we signed the agreement, our sales contact at SPGPrints, Edward Scheppink, promised us, ‘we will never leave your side’. More than a year has passed since our install and we are very happy with our decision to align ourselves with SPGPrints. Whether from the perspective of human resources, versatility, quality or output, the DSI provides us with a long-term solution for the business’s sustainability.” 


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