P-S Labels Every Which Way

Tadbik Ltd. reports it is the largest pressure-sensitive label converter in Israel, controlling more than 60% of that country's prime label market and exporting flexographic and offset printed labels to Europe and Russia from its two Israeli facilities.

Naturally, Tadbik didn't expect to achieve a similar dominance of the US market when it established its North American subsidiary five years ago. But the Fairfield, NJ, facility, designated Logotech, is no less prepared to meet the quality needs of the US marketplace.

“It took us a little bit longer to build a reputation in the United States, because there are so many more converters here than in Israel,” acknowledges Logotech president Rami Molcho. “First we had to let them know we were a quality company that is here to stay. I think the investments show that.”

Gaining an Advantage
To gain what the company felt was an immediate advantage as a newcomer to the North American marketplace, Tadbik launched its 15,000-sq-ft operation in Fairfield with a 8.5-in., five-color Gallus R200 rotary letterpress. Logotech later added another seven-color Gallus R200 letterpress/silk screen combination press with in-line hot stamping capabilities.

Molcho says the R200 is ideally suited for converting upscale wine, cosmetic, and food labels, which are Logotech's key markets. The presses also can be extended up to ten print units, with additional letterpress, rotary screen, ultraviolet flexo, and rotary hot stamping units available. Dies are from Ashwell and RotoMetrics.

To enhance its technological offering, the company last year purchased a Xeikon DCP 320 S digital press, a 13-in.-wide unit that runs at speeds of approximately 45 fpm and is designed to custom-print as little as a single label. The web-fed press handles a variety of substrates, such as p-s materials, polypropylene, or polyester, all coated and uncoated stock. Materials are supplied by FLEXcon and Fasson. Inks are supplied by Uvitec, Akzo Nobel, and Sicpa.

Molcho concedes flexography is clearly the dominant technology in narrow web label production in North America. But, at the same time, he felt letterpress — along with the new digital press — would better meet the needs of its US target audience with its high quality, short-run capabilities.

“We did not want to compete for the milk jug label business,” Molcho says of his company's decision to rely on letterpresses. “We found there was a niche here for the high quality labels you can get from letterpress.” Molcho believes the operating advantages of letterpress include faster setup, line screens to 200 lpi, and crisp printing of even fine type.

And there was little question, even at startup, which manufacturer would supply that press.

When Henry Ford revolutionized the American landscape with the introduction of the Model T, he noted consumers could purchase the “horseless carriage” in any color they liked, “as long as it is black.” Ilan Drori, owner of Tadbik Ltd., gave the management of his US facility a similar edict in choosing its converting equipment: “He once said, ‘I don't care what machine you buy, but it should have the letters G-A-L-L-U-S on the side,’” Molcho says with a laugh. “He really believes in Gallus and the high quality of its equipment. It keeps registration tremendously and delivers the fine lettering required by pharmceutical and neutraceutical markets.”

Adding Flexo to the Mix
Molcho admits the evolution of UV flexo technology has served only to make the upscale label market in the US more competitive. In fact, he reports Logotech likely will add a 16-in., eight- to ten-color Arsoma (Gallus) UV flexo press in the near future to help it better compete in the long-run market.

“We are getting really high quality four-color process off our Gallus letterpresses,” notes Molcho. “…but the quality gap between letterpress and flexo has continued to narrow. That's why we're looking to invest in high quality flexo as well.”

Adding an Arsoma UV flexo press, notes Molcho, will enable the company virtually to match letterpress quality while delivering higher volumes more economically. He adds that most of the runs completed on the Gallus letterpresses are between 25,000 and 50,000 labels, “but we also have a lot of 5,000-label runs, and some in the millions.” The addition of the Xeikon digital press allows Logotech to deliver ultra-short-run labels more economically, while the company expects the wider web Arsoma will convert higher volumes faster and more economically.

“There is a lot of demand for this,” Molcho says of the Xeikon's short-run capabilities. In fact, parent company Tadbik has installed identical presses at its label facilities in Israel and Italy. “They deliver exceptional four-color process, and our people were impressed by the quality they can print, particularly on wine label paper.”

Logotech serves primarily the health and beauty, food and beverage, and industrial markets in the mid-Atlantic states. It hopes to expand its market with the recent addition of two brokers in the upper and lower midwestern US, where Molcho feels there is a high demand for the quality Logotech can produce on its Gallus and Xeikon units.

More Quality Controls
Logotech also operates an off-line hot stamp press and a Creo platemaking system that allows it to control prepress quality in-house.

In addition to finished labels, the company offers the Logotech line of fully automatic p-s labeling machines that can be customized to handle various product requirements, including top and bottom labels, two- or three-sided labels, as well as add-on modules that allow labeling on customers' existing production line.

Molcho notes in spite of the ongoing economic slowdown in the US and other industrialized countries, Logotech has enjoyed growth of 20% or more in each of the past three years. The company recently expanded to two shifts from a single 12-hr shift, and Molcho expects demand will increase along with Logotech's experience and technological capabilities. In fact, the company recently joined a number of industry trade associations, including the Tag & Label Mfrs. Inst. and the Private Label Mfrs. Assn., to enhance both its quality and name recognition.

“You have to show people you are a solid company and you will use high quality equipment and materials. I think we've done that,” notes Molcho. “Now, we're ready to show more people what we can do.”

Fairfield, NJ; 800/988-5646

Gallus/Arsoma, Philadelphia, PA; 215/677-9600; gallus.org

Ashwell Label Dies Inc., Pinellas Pk., FL; 727/527-0098; 800/633-8943; dieco.com

RotoMetrics, Eureka, MO; 636/587-3600; 800/325-3851; rotometrics.com

Xeikon America Inc., Wood Dale, IL; 630/616-5600; xeikon.com

FLEXcon, Spencer, MA; 508/885-8200; flexcon.com

Fasson/Avery Dennison, Painesville, OH; 216/639-3000; 800/828-0122; fasson.com

Uvitec Printing Ink Inc., Lodi, NJ; 973/778-0737; uvitec.com

Akzo Nobel Inks, Langhorne, PA; 215/750-9191; aninks.com

Sicpa Inks, Springfield, VA; 800/345-1320; sicpa.com

Creo, Burnaby, B.C. Canada; 604/451-2700; creo.com

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