The market for packaging printing, and especially labels,, is gravitating towards digital print. This momentum is driven by the ease of use, short-run capability and rapid production times of inkjet presses. LabelExpo 2023 already brought a raft of new devices covered in previous posts but the innovation has not stopped since. At Printing United 2023 a new player emerged with SnapPress and the SnapPress LP-1 inkjet label printer.
SnapPress was developed out of Allen Datagraph Systems Inc, a long-standing supplier of label equipment, cutters and plotters, based in Salem, NH. Sensing the opportunity in short-run label printing with a compact, low-priced printer, Allen Datagraph’s new owner, Kevin Davis, kicked off the development. The company already had more than 25 years of experience in serving the label print market by distributing OEM products. The company came to believe that a next generation printer would be needed to better address the market and to leverage the experience gained in supplying and servicing the third-party printers.
The first product to come to the market is the SnapPress LP-1. The specifications firmly place the device in the light production/entry-level range. Print speed is up to 90 fpm (27.4 m/min), depending on the media and of course on the resolution. Multiple combinations of speed and resolution (in transport direction) are possible – as usual, the higher the speed the more the resolution drops. The HP FI-1000 printhead used offers a 1,200 dpi resolution across the width of the web. An interesting concept is that the inkjet section has been designed in cooperation with HP as an interchangeable unit to allow easy replacements and low downtime. If required users can quickly swap the unit with a spare jetting module, while the faulty unit can be repaired offline
With an 11.7” (297 mm) print width and a 12” web width while using aqueous inks with four color channels (CMYK), the printer is on par with most devices in the light production range. The printer is very compact with a width of under 5 feet (1.5 m), including the reels. Noteworthy is also the ease of use. It includes an easy webbing up and an intuitive user interface via a large touchscreen. The printer is driven by a Xitron RIP.
SnapPress is aiming for the best-in-class print quality. This entailed enlisting external help. Our colleague Mary Schilling of Schilling Inkjet Consulting worked closely with the SnapPress team of engineers through media qualification, print quality, and automated color management integration. The aim was to support small run label requirements, also for prospects currently using conventional print methods.
Targeting CGATS_CRPC3, 6 and 7* specifications for an extended gamut, while improving print quality through ink management and drop accuracy, this development focused on CMYK aqueous pigment ink label printing, which simulates the color and print quality of the larger devices. Mary Schilling states “The coolest aspect of this device is, all the color and print quality is mobile, wrapped up in a small footprint. Creating a movable “print-hub” through product development and manufacturing, offering various media options for simple identification and samples to high-quality branding and packaging in minutes.”
Being a compact, affordable, and easy-to-use printer the SnapPress should appeal to both, label printers and goods producers requiring labels at their site. As it is easy to use and maintain, not much previous experience would be needed. A competitive price point of around $80,000 should appeal to a wider range of users as well. The LP-1 could be used as a backup or reprint solution as well.
The SnapPress LP-1 was presented publicly for the first time at Printing United 2023 and the company reports a wave of orders. The first orders are scheduled for delivery by the onset of the 2023 Christmas Season. So far, the SnapPress is available in North America only but the company plans to enlist dealers in other geographies.
The market for Inkjet label printers is quite diverse and competitive. Inkjet Insight published an inkjet press market overview in 2023 and the section on light production/ entry-level label inkjet presses can be found here