ST LOUIS, MO—Mark Andy Inc. ushered in its new digital age in front of some 200 people over the course of three days, March 25-27, debuting its Digital Series press to potential customers, but taking the time to demonstrate its Performance Series offerings, as well as Mark Andy Print Products consumables division offerings and Mark Andy University services and seminars. It also shared a glimpse of its Versa Max mid-web press on the production floor. The 20 station, 120 ft. long, 20 ft. high, 26 inch wide press was specially configured for lottery ticket applications.
In staging the open house and workflow and equipment demonstrations, the press manufacturer partnered with 10 firms: ACTEGA WIT, DuPont Packaging Graphics, Esko, Flint Group, Harper Corporation of America, IT Strategies, MACtac, RotoMetrics, tesa tape and Wilson Manufacturing.
Kevin Wilken, the recently installed CEO, welcomed delegates to the plant and said, “This is the new Mark Andy. We’re driving profits for customers. Everything we do is all about speed, cost and productivity. Our full breadth of solutions focuses on quality and seamless integration. Planned progression has us touching the customer every week, not once or twice a year.”
Mark Hanley, IT Strategies, keynote speaker for the event, described himself as a digital prognosticator and consultant to digital print vendors in the print for pay market. “Digital printing has shown its credibility in a number of sectors in the pure label market. It has taken a foothold and does have some significance. Digital is not in any way a substitute for analog—it’s a parallel and complementary technology…. Flexo is not going away. There is no way! Construction of hybrid presses gives you a choice.”
His suggestion to converters present and any of the 3,000 label printers in the United States: “Integrate the two. Emphasize printing at a premium standard.” Forecasting digital label press sales at 916 units annually by 2018, up from 412 units in 2013, Hanley said, “Simple technology offers free choice in what to run digital and what to run flexo. Everybody gets the content suitable to them.”
The consultant reported, “Twenty-six percent of printers surveyed, said they adopted digital for inventory reasons, 40 percent for short run, 15 percent extended batch—single substrate, 12 percent high volumes and 7 percent versioning or variable data printing. “
Later in the day, two converters, Richard Ferreira, Action Packaging and Bruce Riddell, Spectrum Label, joined Hanley and Jeff Feltz, Mark Andy’s director of new product development, in a panel discussion detailing their individual digital journeys.
In another breakout session, Dave Telken, Mark Andy, stood with a P5 Performance Series press running behind him and decreed, “Energy is money,” then launched into a presentation on savings through efficiency. In espousing Lean Manufacturing, he said a converter’s focus should be on six elements—flow, employee environment and involvement, workplace organization, quality, operational availability and material movement.
While both digital workflows and utilization of a P7 Performance Series flexographic press were demonstrated, the afternoon spotlight was also cast on the new Digital Series press. Feltz served as master of ceremonies and talked up inline productivity in a single pass workflow at speeds up to 250 fpm/76 mpm. His message, as delivered, was that the hybrid press promises true production run lengths at speeds significantly improved from the past, on a flexible and configurable platform, at relatively low cost of total operation.
Jobs run (see photo) entailed high-resolution, 4-color process UV inkjet printing (CMYKOV) + W. Hybrid flexo stations were deployed for top coating, metallic, cold foil and more. Specifics revealed about the press’ footprint included:
- Web Width of 13.25-in/336mm
- Flexo print width of 13-in/330mm
- Digital print width of 12.5-in/318mm
- Flexo station repeat of 5.5-in–24-in/140 mm–610 mm
- Digital image resolution–600 X 600 dpi native
- Die repeat–24-in/610 mm maximum
- Unwind and rewind capacity 40-in/1,016 mm
- Digital Front End (DFE): Mark Andy ProWORX–one box solution that permits consistent control between the press and digital file management systems used by converters