The Widnes-headquartered company already has many existing installations at global brand companies worldwide for applications such as coding, mailing and addressing.
It’s now expanding its patented technology into more sophisticated high-speed digital printing applications such as packaging and labels, with its Variprint inline digital printing system, which prints fully variable data at 2m/second.
The system works using DataLase’s laser reactive colour change pigment technology, which is incorporated into ink formulations from major ink manufacturers.
The required area of the packaging or product is then printed with a patch of the special ink coating using standard printing processes, including flexo, litho, gravure or screen printing.
When the item reaches the packaging or production line, the area with the special coating is exposed with a laser of a specific frequency that is integrated into the line. This generates a colour change in the coating.
The Variprint system uses a new type of near-infra red laser that allows very high speed operation. The lasers are arranged in an array to image the required format area.
“We are using existing supply chain assets and printing substrates. The customer doesn’t need to invest in new printing equipment to offer these solutions,” said DataLase business development manager Mark Naples.
“The laser system is installed, and we then produce high resolution, permanent and irreversible inline digital printing that is inkless at the point of printing – there’s no ink, and no mess, it’s what the market wants.”
Naples said the print speed was the equivalent of 100,000 products per hour,
He cited potential applications as the reduction of SKUs (stock keeping units) by consolidating multiple label types down to a single standard design that is overprinted on the production line, as well as fast turnaround marketing campaigns and promotions, such as campaigns reacting to major or local events.
“We believe this technology can initiate new marketing campaigns that haven’t even been though of yet,” he said.
Further technical details, including the imaging resolution of the laser writing system, will be revealed at Drupa when DataLase announced the strategic partner who will bring the product to market.
Variprint colour options are black, green, red, blue and yellow.
The firm is also looking into the potential for multi-colour printing, which is on its product roadmap for 2017.
“Our customers say, if you can deliver all of this in multi-colour in a single coating, that will be the final evolution of digital printing,” Naples added.
DataLase Variprint demonstration video