Killer Apps Percolating At The Free Xeikon Café in May

Anyone feeling challenged by running a printing business in the digital age may be interested in getting to Chicago mid-May to check out Xeikon Café North America (May 14-16, 2019). This multi-vendor educational & networking event follows on the heels of a record-breaking Xeikon Café Europe in April, which attracted over 1,000 participants to Antwerp. The North American conference includes panels, workshops, demonstrations, presentations and social events, with a focus on automation and flexible packaging. It is free of charge for print providers, converters, brand owners and designers looking for practical inspiration and perspective on gaining a lead in the digital printing race. The two-and-a-half day event will be held at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Itasca, IL, just outside Chicago.

As with past Café events, the program spotlights innovations and strategies that may stimulate new revenue streams, as well as better ways to control production costs. Tracks include graphic arts, labels and packaging, with a number of “killer app” demonstrations featuring Xeikon niche innovations.

Sustainable Packaging Trends

Among the technologies to be highlighted is a new digital printing solution for flexible pouches. Ultimately driven by evolving consumer preferences, Xeikon’s dry toner pouch printing process is helping its printing customers meet corresponding demands on the packaging industry.

Industry observers see flexible packaging as the next major stage in a fast moving transition away from rigid packaging. Pouches are regarded as more sustainable than boxes because they are inherently stronger pound for pound, ultimately requiring less energy for manufacturing and transport. Brand owners increasingly favor pouches because of their light weight and on-shelf impact.

Of course, the benefits of pouch packaging have also resulted in printing challenges due to multiple laminated layer composition. Xeikon’s solution, which will be covered during breakout sessions at Xeikon Café, simplifies and streamlines the multi-step process by eliminating changeover costs, while allowing Just-In-Time production, versioning and last minute updates on the fly. Dry toner also assures food safety.

Another app on the agenda will be a food-safe dry toner on Kotkamills ISLA® Duo paper cup stock. Xeikon and Kotkamills Oy announced their partnership last month. Kotkamills’ plastic-free, recyclable, biodegradable board is ideal for zero-waste go cups, another reflection of the trend toward more sustainable consumer packaging. The cup stock is something of a game-changer in that it offers a water-based dispersion barrier rather than the usual PE coating. This eliminates static electricity, promoting faster throughput and better stackability.

According to Xeikon, the food packaging space is full of new business possibilities for converters.

Is the writing finally on the wall?

The Café will also offer a look at custom wallpaper printing systems, another long awaited on-demand niche that is clearly on the upswing in 2019. Although custom wall-coverings are not new, this market has taken its time reaching a critical mass. Digital wallpaper has been doable for years, but it would appear that the convergence of driving factors – from consumer awareness on one side and production optimization on the other – is finally at hand. The past few years have seen a steady uptick in production and the market appears ready for a break out.

Xeikon announced at Hunkeler Innovation Days its latest dry toner press, the Xeikon CX500, a single pass, 1200 dpi rotary press rated at 900m²/hour. Xeikon tells us that the CX500 features the latest custom wall paper printing technology, including banding free printing capability, automatic tiling and stops. The system incorporates a web varnishing module that renders printed murals washable and scratch-proof, is compatible with web-to-print ordering systems and is equipped with a wallpaper rewinder unit. And this will not be the only Xeikon press showcasing wall paper printing.

The Xeikon Café program offers separate tracks for the graphic arts/commercial print and label and packaging sectors, with sessions on workflow automation, personalization and other ways to enhance revenue. Each track concludes with a visit to the Xeikon Innovation Center for live technology demonstrations.

Other vendor participants in Xeikon Café North America are AB Graphic, acpo, Anderson & Vreeland, Avery Dennison, FLAG, FLEXcon, Label Traxx, Prati, Spinnaker Coating, and UPM Raflatac plus many others, a total of over 30 companies supporting the printing industry.

And finally, Casino Night will return due to popular demand.

There is no charge to attend Xeikon Café North America, but advance registration is requested. Visit online registration.
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