Offset and digital presses for labels were among the highlights of a recent open-house technology demonstration by Japanese press manufacturer Miyakoshi Printing Machinery Co. Ltd. at its R&D facility in the Yachiyo plant near Tokyo's Narita Airport.

Miyakoshi has supplied offset press and postpress equipment to the form printing industry for nearly 70 years. Its technologies for narrow-web press and postpress have been considered the best in the industry and mostly dominate Japan’s form printing market. Now, Miyakoshi also offers its narrow web and inkjet technologies as top-of-the-line products to many OEM partners such as Kodak, Océ, Fuji Xerox, and Fujifilm.

At the open house, before an audience of more than 1,300, Miyakoshi showcased a number of new technologies marketed under its own brand. The five label printers that were shown included two offset and three digital systems. One of the offset presses uses standard lithography, while the other is based on a waterless process. Besides the labeling solutions, the program also featured Miyakoshi liquid-toner presses for printing on paper and film.

Offset presses for labels

Miyakoshi has marketed its semi-rotary MLP13 web offset label press for 10 years, mainly in Japan and in Europe. The 13"-wide machine offers good offset color quality and registration accuracy to markets such as wine labels, which require higher-quality reproduction than standard offset or flexography. However, the MLP13 is relatively expensive as a label press.

The new MLP13C offers the same color and registration quality at a competitive price for the label printing market. Designed to be appealing to commercial printers who want to enter the label business, the press meets the label market's growing need for small runs and shorter lead times. Featuring quick-change plates, a special ink roller configuration, and digital controls, the MLP13C can print with UV ink at speeds up to 220 impressions per minute. Repeat (cutoff) lengths can be from 5" to 14".

Miyakoshi's MWL13A waterless offset press offers the same print quality for environmentally conscious markets such as Europe. Its keyless, temperature-controlled inking, five-cylinder printing stations, and full-servo drive construction minimize ghosting and streaking while providing best-in-class color registration accuracy. The MWL13A's performance specifications are nearly identical to those of the MLP13C.

Not shown at the open house was an LED UV sleeve offset press from Miyakoshi, the MHL-13A 3000. Aimed at label and film printing, the machine is available in a 13" web width for the label market and in an 18" width for other applications.Plate and blanket cylinders use a patent-pending metal-sleeve structure that makes format changes easier and faster than changeovers with conventional cassettes. Repeat lengths can be from 15" to 24"; top running speed is 328 feet per minute. The press is configurable with inlinevarnishing, laminating, foil stamping, perforating, and punching.

Full-color inkjet presses for labels

Although the majority of label substrates are paper-based, printing on film-based material is always required and sometimes is a must. That is why the major players in digital label printers use UV inkjet technologies to enable their presses to print both types of material. However, UV ink has inherent issues: it slows down the running speed, the ink itself is expensive, and the life of inkjet heads becomes shorter. Moreover, UV ink's smell and migration characteristics are prohibitive to the food industry. 

For large-scale label printing businesses that can justify investing in digital presses dedicated to paper substrates, water-based inkjet technology offers high speed, low cost, and longer head life as well as freedom from migration issues. Miyakoshi's solution for this segment is MJP13LX-2000, a roll-fed, piezo drop-on-demand inkjet press aimed at the short-run color label market. It can print at 1,200 dpi in up to eight colors at 164 fpm on substrates from 6" to 13.5" wide. The MJP13LX-2000 features hot-air drying and can be equipped for inline finishing.

Miyakoshi developed its MJP13LX-UV for label printers who need one machine for both paper and film. Claimed by the manufacturer to be the world's first label printer to use 1,200 dpi inkjet printheads, the LED-curing MJP13LX-UV can print four colors of low-migration UV ink at 164 fpm in widths from 6" to 13.5". Its nitrogen-purging system minimizes UV odors and enables the press to address a wider range of printing applications.

Miyakoshi's MKD13A dry-toner printer and laser diecutting system is the result of a joint development effort with Konica Minolta. By modifying a Konica Minolta cut-sheet engine to print roll paper and adding laser diecutting technology, Miyakoshi has created an affordable digital solution for print-and-cut color label production in short runs. The MKD13A prints in four colors at 1,200 dpi at about 60 fpm (with laser activated) or 30 fpm (without laser activated). Maximum print width is 12.6".

These five machines justify investment by label printers as well as commercial printers who wish to jump into new markets with a variety of products, technologies, and strategies.

Liquid-toner digital presses for paper and film

At the open house, Miyakoshi demonstrated three printers that use the company's own liquid-toner technology: two web presses and one B2 cut-sheet device.

One of the webs, the MDP5000, is targeted at color print markets with reproduction requirements that inkjet presses cannot reach. These applications include photo printing with dense, heavy graphics of the type seen in high-quality brochures, catalogs, and direct mail. The liquid-toner, duplex-printing MDP5000 offers very good quality, variable output, and a compact body in addition to 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution and print speeds up to 196 fpm. Maximum print width is 19.17".

Miyakoshi is very aggressive about using liquid-toner technologies to print film for the flexible package market. At the moment, the majority of flexible packages are printed by either gravure or flexography. Both technologies have issues in that cylinders and plates are expensive and that makereadies and job changeovers take a long time. Therefore, neither process is the best solution for short-run packaging jobs on flexible film.

Miyakoshi's answer is its MDP2500 digital web press with inline primer coating for better toner transfer in CMYK plus white simplex printing. Designed for short-run production on films as thin as 10 microns, the MDP2500 features 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution, 164 fpm running speed, and a maximum print width of 19" x 17".

?The B2 cut-sheet press, the MDP8000, offers 8,000-sheets-per-hour productivity and the ability to print on coated papers without primers. Printing simplex in four colors at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution, the press can handle sheet sizes ranging from 16.14" x 11.4" to 31" x 23.6".