Betting on Digital…and Winning
Committing to color digital presses has paid off for Innovative Labeling Solutions.February 2012 By Bob Leahey, InfoTrends
Atrait most successful enterprises share is a willingness to take calculated risks, such as investing in new technologies and tackling new markets. Label and packaging converter Innovative Labeling Solutions (ILS) has shown that willingness for years now by making a deep commitment to digital press technology and by adding applications and markets in the process. ILS was featured in packagePRINTING in July 2008. At that time, ILS was an established label converter using narrow-web flexo printing, but it also had three years of experience using HP Indigo color digital presses. Now, with another solid three years behind them, we've gone back to ILS to ask again about the company's digital printing business. There's a lot to tell, not only about what ILS has done, but about how they've done it and what the future might hold.
First off, ILS in 2012 is a big shop, and not just for digital. The company's 65,000-square-foot facility is home to more than 58 staff, including client managers, a full-service graphic design/prepress department, director of innovation, and both dedicated flexographic pressmen and HP-certified digital press operators. ILS still operates four narrow-web flexo presses and related finishing lines. Complementing them, though, are three HP Indigo WS6000 digital presses and three related finishing lines, two by AB Graphic and one, installed just last year, by Delta Industrial.
ILS is something of laboratory for color digital printing, and almost literally so. Its digital presses and finishing are all in a dedicated, 10,000-square-foot "digital room," a gleaming space that's busy for three shifts, five days a week. An HP Indigo WS6000 (13˝ webs, 98 feet per minute), which was first commercially available in 2009, was operating as a beta unit in this room two years earlier, one of the first HP Indigo WS6000 installations worldwide. This year's addition of the Delta Industrial finishing line was a first, because it is a unique hybrid unit, one that can operate in-line with the HP Indigo or off-line, as needed. The ILS digital room also holds the only North American installation of an AB Graphic Digilam system for laminating narrow-web packaging materials for eventual conversion into bags, pouches, and sachets on site. Around these systems are still other technologies that ILS is putting to good use: a seaming machine and sheeting machine, both for shrink sleeves and both by Karlville; and design and workflow software by EskoArtwork and LabelTraxx.