What is Label Finishing?

What is Label Finishing Equipment?

Label finishing equipment allows someone to take a printed label and cut out any shape or size while also adding lamination and slitting it down onto a smaller size roll.

There are a few different kinds of label finishers, mainly analog or digital finishing, and determining which is best for your label printing business is very important!

Lets start with Analog since it is the older of the two technologies and then we can work our way into digital.

What is Analog Finishing?

Analog is defined as not involving or relating to the use of computer technology, however a lot of the newer technology has computers embedded to help with tension control. However, for the purpose of the article we will discuss traditional finishing equipment such as semi-rotary and rotary die cutters as “analog”.

These types of finishers use a cylinder that has a sharp edge to cut out the label. Since the cylinder only can have one shape on it, this means that every time the design of the label changes you need to change an reregister this cylinder.

For longer runs of labels this is not an issue, but when doing a lot of short run production it can become quite the headache to constantly be changing out cylinders or mag dies.

While the speed and cut quality of analog finishing is great, the flexibility provided by digital finishing systems is unmatched in the roll to roll world.

Digital Label Finishing

Digital label finishing has only been around for about 10 years now, but it has grown exponentially during that time. As more and more customers demand shorter runs and custom shapes for their labels and packaging, digital finishing is the perfect solution for these custom die cut labels.

While most digital finishing equipment isn’t going to run at the same high speeds as analog, the lack of speed is made up for with the versatility of being able to cut any shape on demand from any label printer.

Custom label designs have become easier than ever to accomplish with the advent of digital printing, but being able to die cut the label printing is more important now then ever.

There are 2 general types of digital finishing equipment in the market today; laser finishing and knife finishing. We will detail the benefits and drawbacks of each below:

Blade Finishers (Knife Finishers)

Blade finishing has been around for about 10-15 years, but has really taken on a life of it’s own in the past 5 or so years. More and more companies want the ability to print and cut what they want, when they want it, and low cost knife finishers allow them to do just that.

Some blade finishers can be simple systems, with just an unwind and rewind and a single knife cutting head.

While other knife finishers can have multiple cutting heads with inline lamination and slitting for a complete roll to roll processing machine.

Depending on your manufacturing volumes, either one of these options may be perfect for you. However, if you have higher volume production for short run labels, it may make sense to look at laser finishing solutions.

Laser Finishing

When using a laser to die cut labels there are a few things you need t know. First, it’s really cool! Watching the high power laser burn through the top layer of laminate and label material and cut down to the backer is just downright awesome.

The laser cutting solutions that we provide are perfect for roll to roll manufacturing of short run labels, especially if there are a lot of intricate shapes.

It can also be used to cut and perforate labels or stickers for easy tear away off the roll.

Laser finishing can be the perfect finishing process for individual stickers and cut outs as well, since you can control how deep the laser cuts very easily. This allows you to easily change between plastic films and other flexible materials and papers, without need to change any tooling!

These laser finishing systems use a web tension system to keep the material taught while a galvo laser cuts out any shape or size based on what you input via Adobe Illustrator. It can cut any shape or design with any complexity level.

For more information on any type of digital finishing system, contact Arrow Systems today! We have the widest selection of both blade and laser finishing options and our experts are here to help!

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