Digital Labels Lead the Way
Starting a successful American company in a suburban garage might sound cliché, but that’s exactly what happened with AccuLabel. Over the years, the flexographic label business had been good to Dave Manning, as he steadily grew AccuLabel’s customer base over a period of 30 years. He attributes his success to a relentless focus on delivering quality products and providing top-notch customer service.
But while flexo labels remain an important part of AccuLabel’s business, a clear shift in customer requirements prompted Manning to examine new ways of meeting those needs. Over time, there was a huge influx of small SKUs with six or seven colors and very high-quality requirements. The flexo press could accomplish the goal, but not without a “nightmare” of plate changes and prepress logistics.
Manning had been watching the growth of digital labels for years and — along with daughter Catie Manning-Ewald, who plays a big part in AccuLabel management — the decision was made to add digital label capability. After an intensive evaluation process, AccuLabel installed a Xeikon (Booth 9344) 3500, a five-color, 20.3" digital web press that can run as fast as 49.2 fpm.
The short-run economies of the new digital press enabled AccuLabel customers to keep their label inventories to a minimum, but Manning-Ewald points out that there are other considerations. “Run length is only part of the picture,” she says, “job complexity is important as well.” For example, the ability to instantly produce as many proofs as needed to get the image precisely right — without waiting for plate changing, and other steps required with flexo — helps ensure that the quality of labels shipped to the customer will be the highest possible.
But another challenge arose. AccuLabel’s demand grew so rapidly that it outpaced the Xeikon 3500. AccuLabel’s solution was to add another digital label press from Xeikon: the “Cheetah” CX3. The Cheetah provides AccuLabel a web width of 13", and 1200x3600 dpi resolution in five colors, including opaque white, and a much faster speed of nearly 100 fpm.
Now, at PRINTING United, AccuLabel will trade in its original 3500 digital press for a Xeikon Cheetah CX500, the latest model in the series. Their new press will run at the same speed as their CX3, but with a wider, 20.47" web.
Manning-Ewald and Manning know that the economics of flexo keep it the technology of choice for very high-volume orders that don’t include variable data. But at the same time, they’re quick to point out that flexo’s long runs yield smaller margins than the shorter runs on their Xeikon equipment.
With both technology options at their disposal, they can easily achieve the top priority that has been central to their success: customer satisfaction.