1.2.3. Etiketten chooses the clever as chemical-free platemaking process

July 21, 2019

Codimag Vivo 340
Chemistry-free Verico Zahara NWL waterless plate on a Codimag Aniflo Viva 340 narrow web waterless UV offset press

The European sales and service team of Verico Technology ensures that print shops can make their plates for waterless offset in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. This also refers to 1.2.3. Etiketten, a member of the Clever Group. Founded in the mid 1990’s, the Clever Group already belongs to the Top 10 label print shops in Central Europe. Besides a broad product portfolio, it is the strong focus on customer relations that gives the company a unique selling point. As a result of this approach, the company expanded into Austria in 2015, where it is known as 1.2.3. Etiketten Ges.mbH. Headed by plant manager Heiko Busjahn, who favours straightforward practical solutions, the team is characterized by quick order processing and customer orientation. One of such solutions is the use of the new chemistry-free Verico Zahara NWL waterless plate for narrow web label presses.

Heiko Busjahn represents the successful expansion of the Clever Group into southern Germany and Austria. With ten years of experience within the Clever Group, he built up a production plant in Freyung in Bavaria in 2005 (“Clever-Etiketten Süd”) and also won over new customers in nearby Austria.

Initially Clever established a sales office at Altheim in the Upper Austrian region near the border river Inn. In 2015, the Group decided to construct a new production plant. At the village of Vöcklamarkt, north of the Attersee, the Group found a suitable building where the new subsidiary, “1.2.3. Etiketten,” could start to produce blank labels. In 2016, the company’s first Codimag Aniflo Viva 340 narrow web waterless UV offset press was installed. This step turned out to be a resounding success. Just a year later, a second almost identical press of the same type was also installed. Currently both machines are working almost to their capacity, running in a two-shift operation. Typical medium sized jobs have running lengths of about 10,000 metres (32,809 ft). This sometimes increases up to 20,000 metres (65617 ft) and even more. One of the two presses is equipped with two flexo print-units which are not only used for varnishing, but also for the application of white priming for images on transparent film substrates.

Backed up by the Clever Group, 1.2.3. Etiketten is able to provide its customers in Austra with a whole portfolio of services spanning from label printing with the flexo, offset or digital processes all the way up to RFID tags. No matter if classic pressure-sensitive labels or complex booklet labels are concerned – there is hardly any demand that cannot be met by one of the production plants in Germany and Austria.

The fact that not all of the Group’s products are manufactured in Vöcklamarkt is no big deal for Heiko Busjahn and its team, as for this plant the offset process was first choice. At this location, mainly pressure-sensitive labels for machine dispensing are printed. According to Heiko Busjahn, the offset process itself ensures close production loops as there is no need to wait for external plate supply but the plates are made in-house in a fast and simple way. In addition, the waterless offset process meets the highest quality standards. 

It has long been clear to the highly experienced label printer Busjahn that the printing plate is an important quality factor. To what extend this is true was obvious as the new Zahara NWL plate was introduced to him in autumn 2017. This plate product can be decorated in a chemical-free way using just clear water. Furthermore it offers an extremely high print run stability and a remarkably lower sensibility to scratches compared with competing products. Facts like this can be heard very often when asking the print operators at 1.2.3. Etiketten about their initial experience with the new plate system. However, Heiko Busjahn also mentions the high quality level to achieve with the Verico Zahara NWL: “At the Zahara plate, the single image elements are apparent in a much better and clearer way. This is reflected in the printed product.” Finally the omission of all chemistry from the platemaking process was very welcome. This spares not only the operators from handling such chemicals, but also saves any administrative efforts for the respective handling and disposal. This perfectly fits with the desire for easy solutions and high flexibility at 1.2.3. Etiketten.

Günter Schmid, Verico Technology customer service (r.), with Heiko Busjahn

We don´t want anything else 

Heiko Busjahn comments: “Immediatley after we delivered the new Zahara plate to our press operators and just after the first process steps, there were distinct comments that they don’t want to use any other plate material any more. This really was only the start of a real success story.” However the Austrian location remained not the only one changing over to the new Zahara plate. Additionally there are two other locations in Germany running the same type of Codimag waterless UV offset presses. The shift to the new plate was executed within a very short period of time. A clever step – so to speak.

The technology is most convincing

Additional concerns of the label printers were quickly dissipated by the Verico Technology customer service. At Vöcklamarkt this service is represented by Günter Schmid, a sales and service technician with extensive experience within the plate business. Not only is he quite familiar with the structure of the Clever Group and its requirements on consumables, but it’s his practical ability that is most convincing. Günter Schmid comments: “We just removed the chemistry from the processor, rinsed it thoroughly and filled it with water.“ Furthermore, no structural changes for both the exposing unit and the processor were necessary. The exposing unit was calibrated one-time according to the requirements of the customers. Since then it has continued to stably conduct platemaking.

At the Verico plate, the single image elements are apparent in a much better and clearer way. This is reflected in the printed product.

Heiko Busjahn, Plant Manager, 1.2.3. Etiketten

A considerable number of the Vöklamarkt customers are from the food segment, which is very sensitive to environmental concerns. Therefore, low migration inks are used – despite the fact that the very few labels will ever come into direct contact with food. Typical applications are the labelling of deep drawn containers, packaging films, cardboards and secondary packaging. “We also target the chemical and textile industries”, comments Heiko Busjahn. He also mentions that the solutions for such fields of application are often more complex like fold-out “Gizmo” label construction. However, the overall reaction of the customers – and particularly the ones from the food segment – turned out to be very positive as Clever Group navigated the shift to the new chemistry-free Zahara NWL plate technology.

Indeed, the introduction of the Zahara was one of the most uncomplicated technology changeovers that Heiko Busjahn can think of ever participating within.