Graphium labels part 2: Food and beverage labels

At the recent IPEX show, we demonstrated how a wide range of different label applications could be printed on Graphium that were stunning to look at but fit-for-purpose.  This series of blog posts provides some detail on the label application printed.

Food and beverage labels

The food and beverage market is being shaped by a number of forces. Consumers want higher value goods and more variety.

Brands, large and small, are looking for the ability to offer seasonal/promotional variants and improve traceability to source.  Finally retailers are increasing the number of private label goods carried in their portfolios.

All these factors have led to the trends toward shorter run lengths and a rising demand for product differentiation.  Digital production of food and beverage labels continues to grow as a result.

For IPEX we chose to design and print a label that you might see on a small batch manufacturer’s or artisan producer’s product. Due to the nature of their business their print shop must be able to convert labels on-demand, with short lead times including next day turn around on repeat orders.

Clean, vibrant colours are required to best show the food and beverage label design against the content of a bottle where clear labels are applied to clear packaging. Also, an opaque inkjet white is often used both as a base coat for the digital process and as a part of the design itself. This example of a food and beverage label shows how Uvijet Graphium RA inks have been used to create a ‘no-label look’ product on clear PP on a PET liner. This is a short run, versioned label range, which has been die cut, slit in line and then rewound on the multi-turret rewinder. The total print time for these labels was 23 minutes.

Vital Statistics

Application: Smoothie labels over 4 versions

Press: Graphium

Size: 72 mm x 142 mm

Run length: 5,000 labels per version (20,000 in total)


  • Die cut and slit – inline
  • Rewind on AB Graphics Vectra multi-turret rewinder

Substrate: UPM top-coated PP clear on PET liner

Lay-up: 5 lanes across

Total print time: 23 minutes


‘No label look’ labels for food and beverages

Making it happen

The food and beverage label example we ran at IPEX was a smoothie job printed on clear PP with PET liner. Juices and smoothies often have very vibrant colours, which show through the containers they are sold in. Traditionally these types of labels would use screen print or combination of screen print white and flexo. The tactile ‘no-label look’ is desirable because it emulates direct pad or screen print directly onto containers, which is an expensive and fairly difficult process for short run.

As label jobs go this was a pretty straightforward job to set-up and run, from both a prepress and conversion perspective.  There were a few set-up points worthy of note.

White under-print

During repro we needed to extend the white text, so that all objects had a white background. This was achieved by using RealPro Toolkit’s ‘Search’ tool to isolate all objects that we’re not already white ink and then to generate white with a very small trap for the remaining colours. This ensured that there was no white visible on the edge of objects – which can occur.


In order to convert 5000 copies of each label, quickly and cost effectively, the four label jobs had to be laid out in lanes so that they could run in parallel.  For this reason the ‘Nest’ feature in RealPro Toolkit was used to step & repeat the images. This process provides remarkable time savings in the layout process as Toolkit’s ‘Nest’ feature allows you to create print ready layouts allowing maximum use of substrate.  It also includes laying down the Sync marks for finishing purposes.


Four versions of smoothie label

Over to Graphium

The setup of the press uses an inter-colour pinning system to freeze droplets into position as soon as they emerge from print head. This ensures sharpest detail and minimum spread. The additional advantage of inter-colour pinning is that we can control the flow of ink – reducing the flow for smoother flatter results and increasing it for sharper more tactile results. Thus in the case of the smoothie label we wished to emulate the tactile qualities of screen print.

At IPEX we also demonstrated how the food and beverage label could be printed without varnish for a punchy high gloss effect, or used with a flood mat varnish on one of our inline flexo units to control the reflective qualities of both the film and ink. This can improve the ‘no-label’ effect on certain container types, which equally have matt surface properties.


Finally we ran the label job through an inline die-cutter and slit the web to be sent to ABG Vectra turret rewind, producing individually finished reels of labels directly from the press. The benefit of totally finishing and converting inline is that there is no performance hit of reel changes or post finishing, which introduce additional labour, time and material costs.