"Initially, Newfoil machines were mainly used by commercial label printers for adding embellishments to preprinted webs produced for the alcohol industry," says Derrick Evans, managing director at Newfoil Machines. "Over the years, we have grown into different areas. Whether specialising in producing labels for the alcohol or cosmetic markets, or something more complicated like security or scientific products, customers are constantly contacting us with new ideas or to seek solutions. Our determination to constantly develop and improve the machines means that we are ideally placed to help."
"One of the most regular enquiries we receive is, 'Can you produce these on your machine?'. Our policy is to never initially turn down an enquiry, no matter how outlandish the project or how complicated the samples may appear. All customer enquiries are seriously considered, sometimes at length, before we give a final answer." This open-minded approach has led to the creation of many specialised machines specific to particular industries or products. The sole limitation Newfoil faces is the availability of basic substrate in roll form to begin the converting process.
The first Newfoil machines were produced in 1982. Since then, it has become a specialist in the off-line finishing of pre-printed webs. By constantly refining and modernising its equipment, it has been able to stay on top in an ever-changing industry landscape and is now building the fifth generation of Newfoil printing machinery. Newfoil currently has installations in over 100 countries worldwide and continues to receive enquiries from new territories.
"When batch sizes don't justify the expense of costly rotary tooling, off-line finishing is by far the most efficient way of adding value to pre-printed webs", Evans says. The flatbed method is easy to set up and tooling prices and wastage are low, but that doesn't mean that you have to trade cost-effectiveness for quality. In fact, the opposite is true."
Evans states that Newfoil's most basic flatbed system enables the user to produce high-quality finished products. However, with the combination of its latest screen-printing and embossing units, plus the range of optional equipment such as lamination, sheeting, slitting and hologram application - the customer's imaginations is the only limit. "In recent months, we have been involved in producing machines for the manufacture of wristbands, security labels featuring RFID tags, heat sensitive labels and number plates." As Evans details, many of the specialties produced on Newfoil equipment are far removed from conventional labels.
"At recent LabelExpo exhibitions, we have demonstrated a method of combining flatbed silk screen printing with hot foil stamping to create a solid raised image that will not flatten during packing and transportation. The effect is produced by using UV varnish that expands when heated and it has proved to be an attractive solution for high-end wines and spirits labelling."
Hand in hand with machine developments, the tooling manufacturers have also made big steps forward with the range and quality of tooling available for hot stamping and embossing. One of Newfoil's more popular recent innovations was the Quickset embossing kit. "When embossing on a Newfoil press, the alignment of the brass die and counterforce is particularly critical for the best results." Evans explains. "To make this process quick and simple, we have introduced a method of embossing that allows the tooling to be mounted in-register, off the press, before being presented to the machine as a unit. When positional adjustments are required, the die and counterforce move together and retain a perfect relationship."
When adding hot stamping to the process, it is a simple matter of introducing the hot stamp foil. The result is known as combination foiling. In addition to providing a crisp metallic finish with virtually no set up time, the Quickset kit only uses one print station rather than two. It really is a must have for those serious about high-quality embossing.
"As production runs have become smaller, the advantages of digital print have become more and more apparent. The quick set up and low first label costs have created opportunities to produce high-quality printed webs." Some may see the increased presence of digital systems in the market as a threat but it is important to remember that a digital printing system does not provide a complete process. Without the necessary finishing equipment, the range of prospective products and innovations is greatly limited.
"The most popular high-end digital printers - whether it be inkjet or laser - are large capital investments, but there are good-quality CMYK digital printers available for those on a more modest budget." For years, Newfoil has produced a special unwind unit that integrates with this type of printer to provide a full converting line. This allows smaller label manufacturers to apply high-quality embellishments to their bespoke and digitally printed webs.
Constant development has resulted in the cutting-edge range of NM machines. These machines are capable of operating at up to 18,000 impressions per hour with a maximum web speed of 75m per minute. A heavy duty unwind unit allows large diameter rolls of 340mm-wide material to be loaded and the free-standing rewind system can be fitted with a web inspection device. The customer can choose to have either two or three hot stamping or embossing heads, plus a flatbed servo driven screen printing unit can be inserted into the line either before or after the printing stations. Newfoil have designed this machine to confidently cover every eventuality faced by today's modern label printers.
The integrated Safety and Motion control system utilised on the latest Newfoil machines is a state-of-the-art industrial solution. Servo motors are employed to drive all the main functions of the machines, including web indexing, foil indexing, movement of the patterns and the creation of the pressure for stamping and die-cutting. Many features that were once considered special options are now standard. Newfoil users now have even more control over the quality and cost of what they are producing.
An onboard machine log that records production information is a useful additional management tool. It records all events and stages taken during a typical production run. From this amassed and saved data, efficiency levels can be scrupulously monitored after the fact and compared with estimated production levels, plus any issues potentially identified can be addressed with confidence in the subsequent solution. "On the face of it," says Evans, "the modern servo machines bear no resemblance to the first generation of machines Newfoil Machines first introduced over 30 years ago. They are 300% faster, they are designed to work with the very latest digital print machinery and 50 individual jobs can be electronically stored and recalled by navigating through the touch screen control system. However, despite the succinct technological advancement and ongoing innovation, the traditional high-quality engineering that has long been the signature of Newfoil equipment still underpins the whole process and will continue to do so wherever the future takes it."