Inkcups Unveils Helix for Short-Run Color Promotional Goods
The “digitization” of industrial printing is opening up opportunities for printers serving a variety of marketplaces. One new device that has been attracting a lot of interest is the Helix rotary inkjet printer for straight-walled and tapered cylinders, designed and manufactured by Inkcups (Booth 3001). The Helix is suitable for short-run, high-quality multi-color printing on things like wine and pint glasses, bottles, stainless steel drinkware such as YETI cups and more. Although it has been seized on by companies that print promotional products, interest has come from some unusual corners.
“We’re finding a lot more people in different marketplaces are interested in the Helix,” says Benjamin Adner, CEO of Inkcups. “We’re seeing a lot more retail and from other markets like licensed goods, glassware, barware, cosmetics and not just those who print promotional goods.”
Promotional drinkware has been a strong category, but the ability to do multi-color graphics has been limited. Screen printing has been the go-to process for multi-color drinkware printing, but requires fairly long runs to be cost effective. Enter high-quality color digital printing systems like the Helix that can handle shorter runs.
One of the benefits of the Helix, which prints CMYK plus white and varnish, is that it can match a wide range of PANTONE colors, which is essential for printers or decorators serving the licensed-product market, who need to hit specific brand colors.
The Helix is an LED UV device that can print on a wide variety of surfaces, such as stainless steel, plastics, glass and more. In order to facilitate ink adhesion, these surfaces need to undergo a process called flame treatment. So to complement the Helix, last year Inkcups introduced the AutoFlame 360 (pictured at right), an automated flaming system that allows users to flame an entire day’s production run offline in, the company says, about half an hour.
Although Inkcups is focusing a lot of its attention on the digital side of industrial printing, it still has a strong presence in analog technologies, and offers an extensive line of pad printers and laser engravers for platemaking. The company is showcasing its latest laser engraving system, the CobaltONE. “This is a new machine that simplifies the laser etching process at an attractive price,” says Adner. “It’s a very important machine for pad printers.”
Pad printing finds a strong niche in the promotional product market and is also becoming the go-to printing process for the fast-growing tagless apparel market. Pad printing of tags — which is also called “inkcup printing” — is replacing sew-on labels or tags for T-shirts, sportswear, underwear and other items of clothing. “It has a better look and feel, washes better and offers good cost savings for the company doing the printing,” says Adner.