Hybrid forum shows future of label production

Packaging Solutions

Welcoming more than 300 converters to a three day event at Mark Andy European showroom and demonstration facility in Warsaw, CEO Kevin Wilken said the company now has the most comprehensive portfolio of label and packaging technology of any manufacturer.

On working display were four presses, a Rotoflex rewinder, and numerous ancillary equipment including a Martin Automatic unwind splicer and the latest ProLED UV curing systems. All of the presses showed how hybrid technology can be applied to the label market with maximum effect, whether producing filmic labels at 300 metres per min on the Performance Series P7E, or high quality short run labels on the toner based Digital One, to outstanding work coming off the new seven colour Digital Series HD, which was making its European debut, ahead of Labelexpo Americas in Chicago. In addition, recently acquired Presstek showed what can be achieved on its 34 DI offset press fitted with ECO UV.

To help converters keep up to date with the latest in UV curing and low migration ink technology, each session began with an informal discussion between Marcus Greenbrook of GEW and Henrik Bernquist of Flint Inks. Topics included the difference between conventional arc lamp and LED-UV systems, and the relative merits and costs of running each, and how low migration ink technology is playing a greater role, especially in food packaging, and the strict guidelines that need to be observed to ensure there is no contamination in the printing process.

The demonstration jobs run off during the event showcased the wide range of substrate capability of the various presses on show. On the P7E, a vodka label was printed on clear foil using Digital Plus Screen and CMYK flexo colours. Digital Plus Screen offers a high quality digital inkjet alternative to screen printing, producing an opaque white in a single application. A second job on BOPP using seven colours was run off at 300 metres per minute with splice on the run using a Martin MBS unit.

The Digital Series HD now adds orange, green and violet to CMYKW capability. It was demonstrated running at 75 metres per minute on three jobs. A whisky label used CMYK plus white, and gold cold foil and a matte varnish, while a gel/soap label used CMYK plus orange with Kurz foil and patterned matte varnish. The third job was an orange juice label using CMYK plus orange and a gold flexo spot with a matte varnish on a white paper. The Digital Series HD is a modular line, a true hybrid platform, and fully adaptable to changing market needs, making it a future proof production tool for high quality labels.

The Digital One entry level toner press, which was launched in 2016, is intended for high mix, low volume work and has enjoyed sales from both commercial label houses and from the inplant production market, like micro breweries and craft goods manufacturers. It was shown printing CMYK with a Kurz cold foil on white paper, with other jobs showing its personalisation capability.

Since its acquisition earlier this year, Presstek has merged its DI sheetfed offset press range into the Mark Andy portfolio. The Presstek DI is a waterless offset press designed for medium to short applications on a wide range of sheeted substrates ranging from paper and board to plastics in format sizes up to 520 x 365 mm (B3). Optional capabilities include waterless with IR drying, aqueous coating, and the latest Eco-UV technology. At the forum, it was demonstrated printing flat sheet cookie cartons in CMYK with Eco-LED UV to complement the labels produced on the Digital One press.

On the finishing side, the Rotoflex VSI 440 fitted with Eye-C Vision Quality Link workflow linked the print to the converting process. Capable of running at 300 metres per minute, the Rotoflex VSI is designed for inspection, slitting and rewinding of pressure sensitive material. Fitted with the eDrive 2.0 drive system and URC 2.0 control system, the Eye-C system on the Rotoflex monitored the print, detecting any defect for easy removal.

As part of its educational programme, Mark Andy launched a competition earlier in the year that invited students to design a label that could be printed flexo or digital. The winners were Olena Onyshchuk from Kiev (Ukraine) and Lydia Haussmann from Stuttgart (Germany). In addition to seeing their own work produced in Warsaw, the students were given a VIP day out that included dinner in a downtown restaurant with the Mark Andy team ­– this proved a great opportunity for the company to learn more about the current situation at printing schools in different countries.

Concluding the highly successful event, European managing director Tom Cavalco commented: ‘The label market reflects the high volatility in consumer demand and as the leading solutions provider we have to ensure that we can respond quickly to any variation. We now have a portfolio of narrow web press technology that allows Mark Andy to cater for any market requirement and were delighted to show this to all the converters who attended.’

As a forum for hybrid technology, the event highlighted how far the market has moved, and how various combined applications of flexo, offset and digital printing can serve different market sectors without compromise, allowing converters the opportunity to enjoy the best of both.

It also proved a useful curtain raiser for Labelexpo Americas, at which the newly announced Performance Series press P9E, specially designed for flexible packaging production, will be exhibited in 660 mm format. The new P9E is the ideal solution for label converters looking to grow into new markets.

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