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Xaar printheads power direct-to-shape packaging

Friday, 13 September 2013
By Print 21 Online Article

 Xaar 1001 inkjet printhead is a key component of a growing number of innovative direct-to-shape digital decoration systems coming to market. Printing full colour images and text directly onto glass, PET and metal containers is a highly efficient process.

The revolutionary process cuts out materials and inventory, reduces time to market and avoids many of the costs associated with using labels or sleeves. Images and text can be fully variable if required so that each container can be unique for targeted marketing campaigns or traceability purposes. In addition, decoration can be applied easily to irregular-shaped and textured containers which can pose a challenge for traditional labels and sleeves.

 For high-speed, single-pass direct-to-shape decoration, it is critical that the printhead delivers exceptional print quality with maximum reliability. In addition, for container decoration that includes a high-opacity white base layer, the white ink, which is heavily pigmented, needs to be kept in suspension and in constant motion within the printhead to avoid nozzle blocking.

The revolutionary design of the Xaar 1001 printhead is ideal for direct-to-shape printing systems.  The high native resolution and greyscale capability of the Xaar 1001 gives an effective resolution of over 1000 dpi producing high quality, smooth tone images and pin sharp text. It also features Xaar’s patented TF Technology™ combined with Hybrid Side Shooter™ architecture to deliver the highest flow rate of ink past the back of the inkjet nozzle during drop ejection. As a result, the ink is kept in constant suspension, any air bubbles and particles are removed, and the printhead remains continuously primed to deliver maximum production uptime – even in the harshest industrial environments. It is these qualities that are making the Xaar 1001 the leading printhead for this market.

Xaar’s OEM partner Till is demonstrating a new direct-to-shape digital decoration system with Xaar 1001 printheads at Drinktec. The Till system enables bottling companies to print high-resolution images, text and variable data onto containers, cost effectively and at industrial speed. Developed from small-scale and prototype production, the new modular Till SmartPrint range of machines are capable of handling volumes from 10 up to 600 bottles or cans per minute (equivalent to 36,000 per hour). The Till system can be combined with a customisable web shop and enables high-quality decoration by using optimised UV inks which deliver excellent adhesion, vibrant colours and great scratch resistance on glass, PET and metal.

“Leading brands are continuously looking at new ways to innovate their packaging in order to differentiate from their competition,” says Mark Alexander, Director of Marketing, Xaar. “With these new direct-to-shape systems, manufacturers can really push the creative boundaries. They have the potential to cut out costs associated with labels, and still achieve high quality results, and they can respond quickly to product variations with the ability to implement new designs quickly and to change them ‘on the fly’ without stopping production. Direct-to-shape digital decoration is still a relatively new technique, but one that we predict will grow.”