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Laser cutter powers ‘For Trade’ label service

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
By Patrick Howard
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Claiming an ‘industry first’ with his GM laser diecutting system, Nick Lowe, owner of Guru Labels, has launched a portal for printers promoting the ‘end of tooling costs.’

Label pioneers; Nick Lowe (left) and Adam Evans at Guru Labels.

The pioneering converter completed a digital transformation of his Tuggerah-based label business this year with the installation of a Xeikon 3030 digital press backed up by the first GM (Grafisk Maskinfabrik) in the country. After three months of bedding in the new kit, Lowe has launched an industry website that he believes will change the way printers think about ordering labels.

He maintains that by eliminating the cost of ‘tooling’ for conventional self-adhesive label die cutting he can not only supply a wider variety of labels shapes and sizes at a lower cost, but also deliver an on-demand service no matter how complex the requirements. He is still waiting for the arrival of software to make the process fully automatic, but is confident the technology can supply over 90 per cent of labels for the industry.

The road to laser die cutting has been long and challenging. It took a trip to Labelexpo in Chicago last year to convince Lowe that the technology has reached a level of maturity where it can operate in a reliable way. While he concedes the laser system produces a different type of cut from a conventional tooling die, he maintains that it’s perfectly acceptable for the general purpose labels that make up most of the orders from Guru Labels’ 3000 customers.

“It’s different from current traditional tooling, but the compromises are outweighed by the benefits. It’s easy now to go from plain rectangle labels to any shape you want – at no extra cost,” he said.

Most Guru Labels jobs are between 5000 and 10,000 units. With a 330mm wide web printed in CMYK and white, the joy of the laser system is that it allows different jobs to be run simultaneously, ganged across the width. A pragmatic selection of substrates – he runs less than a dozen paper stocks – allows the system to be fine tuned for maximum productivity.

He does not rate throughput speed as being decisive. Depending on the complexity of the label he can run it from 30-40 meters per minute, slowing it down for higher quality results to 10-15 mpm.

Away from the Xeikon Guru Labels at its new premises north of Sydney also runs a ColorPainter wide format printer to do decals and labels. He bought it from DES and refers to it as the “best wide format machine in the industry.” A couple of Roland Versa UV LEF-20 inkjets allows the production of customized marketing collateral products.

The switch for Guru Labels from mainly outsourcing orders as a print broker business to becoming a fully digital production plant was facilitated by Grish Rewal’s Melbourne-based Absolute Electronics, agent for Xeikon as well as GM.

The laser chamber on the GM die cutter.

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