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Mark Andy system aims at easier use

Labelexpo Europe 2003 (September 24-27) will provide an insight into the progress digital press manufacturers have made towards making the technology economically viable for converting applications. One of the prime exhibits will be Mark Andy’s DT 2200 digital printing and converting system, making its European debut after the original launch at Labelexpo Americas, last year. Aimed at the label market, it has been designed for integration with existing narrow web flexo finishing equipment, and is said to offer ease of use and low maintenance – plus inexpensive consumables and substrate independence.

Mark Andy president John Eulich (see People section) explains: “Our primary focus is on flexo and appropriate combinations. But we are also a technology leader in digital label printing and converting. Labels are the best segment for digital in packaging. However, the economics are not right yet. There has to be some value added to make sense economically. We have taken a different path from our competitors with digital printing – that’s why we’ve taken longer. It requires a complete printing and converting system – not a bunch of add-ons. The advantages of in-line finishing are simple – one operator, one operation, no additional material set-up waste, and very fast.”

The printing heart of the DT 2200 is a dotrix SPICE (Single Pass Inkjet Color Engine) module. “We believe inkjet is the technology that works best for packaging and labels,” he continues. “It’s more consistent than other processes, and offers simplicity and low maintenance. There are no cells to fill up, no OPC drums to wear out, no variation in static charges, no humidity to control – and constant ink viscosity. It will print the same colours every time. There are very few moving parts, so it’s very low maintenance.”

The SPICE system, employing piezo drop on demand inkjet technology, will print 330mm web width at 24m/min. The resolution is said to be 300dpi with eight levels of grayscale. It uses UV curable inks and can print CYMK plus two spot or hexachrome colours. Cleaning the inkjet heads is an automatic process that takes five minutes.

Finishing options on the DT2200 include laser die cutting, slitting, sheeting, rewinding, laminating, varnish and adhesive coating, and foil stamping. The laser die cutting – product of a partnership with Las-X Industries – is said to be the most efficient and profitable method of converting, eliminating the need to stop the press at all. In addition to short turnaround, it offers the ability to produce special shapes and label differentiation for security applications.

Faster

“The DT2200 enables existing digital printers to turn round jobs faster – very short runs of less than 1,000m,” claims product management director Ken Daming. “It can print many substrates, and is designed with a simple workflow and very simple maintenance, so existing label press operators can run it.” Dieter Huck, managing director of Mark Andy’s Swiss operation, adds: “Our aim is to offer a system that allows customers to run digital technology with profit”.

The first beta site is in production at Stralfors, in Sweden, alongside two Xeikon presses. In May, a demonstration unit was installed in Mark Andy’s St Louis showroom.

John Eulich concludes: “Flexo will continue to be the process of choice in packaging worldwide. Digital continues to be talked about more than invested in. Digital production will be used first to add value to the supply chain, not to replace existing methods. In the long term, it will replace some existing technology, as quality improves and the cost equation improves. But it won’t become a major process. It is replacing some conventional capacity, but it will not become the majority production process in our lifetimes.”

Mark Andy Tel: +44 (0)1625 500964 www.markandy.com


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