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Evolution has caught up with the first wave of digital print engines, says Søren Ringbo, Nilpeter’s manager, digital products

Demand for industrial quality standards and reliable technology is driving the development of the next generation of UV inkjet. For more than a decade, label printers have followed the evolution of digital print technologies with some degree of hesitancy. Some have made profitable investments in digital presses while others have found the outlay to be less successful. Many have been waiting for two important ’triggers’ before considering investments – a stronger market for digitally printed labels, and a viable digital print technology.

Inkjet will win the race today. Given the industrial trends and the growing demand for shorter runs, there’s no doubt that the market for digital print is real and increasing. In terms of technology, the graphical industry is united: the future is liquid!

In the mid-1990s, Nilpeter recognized the demand for digital printing in the label industry – and rapidly became one of the pioneers in the field. An OEM agreement with Belgium based printing equipment manufacturer Xeikon led to the commercial introduction in 1997 of one of the world’s first truly industrial digital label presses, the DL-3300. Over the next few years, Nilpeter installed at least one DL-3300 every month worldwide. Ten years ago this was a revolutionary achievement in the digital print industry.

Now, 10 years on from the introduction of the DL-3300, Nilpeter is once again shaking up the label press market with a groundbreaking digital press introduction.

For the first time, customers can combine high quality digital printing with conventional printing and converting. The Caslon is a four colour process CMYK inkjet system integrated on a Nilpeter press platform. It uses a standard Nilpeter UV system with UV curable inks. The inkjet heads are the newly developed Xaar 1001, the first model designed for single pass printing applications.

The imaging system and imaging software were developed in conjunction with UK based FFEI, a former business division of Fujifilm. FFEI has a strong background in high quality imaging technologies. This, combined with the hi-tech Xaar heads and Nilpeter’s reliable, high quality platform concepts, will set new standards in the industry.

The Caslon is bringing back digital print to the pressroom and onto the presses. For years, digital label printing lived a lonely life, isolated from the conventional presses in the printing houses. Today’s digital presses have special requirements in terms of temperature and humidity, as well as specially skilled operators. The Caslon will change all that.

Since the introduction of the Caslon at Labelexpo, the interest has been tremendous. It seems that the market has been awaiting an alternative to current digital label printing systems.

By now, we already see a change of mindset from the label converter’s side, indicating that our concept meets demands and offers opportunities not yet seen in the industry. In addition, the idea of implementing digital printing as a modular printing technology in combination with conventional printing seems to open new doors for our customers that we didn’t even expect. Now orders are already in the pipeline.

Nilpeter will be exhibiting the Caslon during drupa 2008 (Düsseldorf, May 29-June 11) on Xaar’s stand 4E10.

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