Read later
  • 04 Oct 2022

Mark Andy unveils Digital Pro Max mid-market strategy

Mark Andy is targeting the latest Digital Pro press, now including digital white, at its traditional label and converter customer base

Mark Andy is targeting the latest Digital Pro press, now including digital white, at its traditional label and converter customer base. 

At Labelexpo Americas 2022, Mark Andy launched the latest version of its Digital Pro toner-based press, the Digital Pro Max, now adding digital white to the standard CMYK and increasing speeds to 130ft/min (40m/min).

This is the third generation of the Digital Pro (DPro) line that uses Konica Minolta’s toner-based imaging technology. The DPro Max provides end-to-end flexo and digital print capabilities. With the new digital white print technology, clear and metallic substrates are supported without the need for a traditional flexo printing plate. As with the existing Digital Pro systems, a full suite of converting and decorating modules are available.

The partnership between Mark Andy and Konica Minolta has been in place for over five years, successfully leveraging the strengths of each company - Konica Minolta in digital marking technology and Mark Andy in web handling, converting and robust narrow web press design. To date, there are more than 300 Digital One/DPro press installations.

The development of the DPro press line represents, in many ways, a return to founder Mark Andrews’ original vision of the company serving the mid- and entry-level sectors of the narrow web market with presses like the 2200.

‘Mark Andrews built the company on the middle of the market,’ states Greg Palm, executive VP of marketing and business development at Mark Andy. ‘It’s the same market segment for our DPro digital strategy. They have the same wants and needs, except we are serving them with digital printing technology. That is because digital is more cost-effective for short runs, and the middle tier downwards have the same short run needs as the big guys, maybe more.’

Palm recalls that Mark Andy’s digital strategy started at the top end of the market. ‘We began by developing the HD Series inkjet press, which is in the same class as the Performance Series - a solid high-end production press which can be a multi-million- dollar investment. Then seven years ago, we heard from our middle market customers that they needed a digital label press, but at a price they could afford. It was clear that we needed to start again with our traditional customer segments. Digital means different things to both smaller and larger guys.’

Continues Palm, ‘We spent a lot of time figuring out what would be a good match between technology and market needs. We researched multiple technology partners, including inkjet and toner systems. Finally, we went with toner technology that Konica Minolta had originally developed for a different market.

In partnership with Konica Minolta, we set about designing the Digital Pro press with those customers’ words and needs - we were opening a new market segment. It’s the customers that give you the right direction.

‘Our relationship with Konica Minolta has involved trips to Japan to discuss image quality and the range of materials required by label converters because a partnership only works when we are working to the same outcome. Together we have demonstrated that there are benefits of not having to go to million-dollar investments.’

The big prize for Mark Andy’s Digital Pro strategy lies in the legacy press sector. Greg Palm estimates this represents 50 percent of the installed narrow web press base, so there is a lot to play for. Although obsolete legacy presses are paid for multiple times over, they still require skilled operators and generate waste on changeovers.

‘Converters told us that they are finding it difficult to retain the expertise they had when they started their company,’ says Palm. ‘The DPro Max delivers both intuitive operation and waste reduction. On the DPro Max, the process colors are in register immediately. Decorating and converting technologies can be added to the base press, or a customer can start with a roll-to-roll press and upgrade later.’

In addition to the new digital CMYK+W printing technology, Mark Andy has further engineered the press to change over quickly, with minimal waste. Mark Andy has automated die setup to make the converting end of the DPro even more efficient and less dependent on operator skills.

‘The cost structure of the Digital Pro Max works well for our customers in the middle part of the flexo market,’ says Palm. ‘CMYK at this price point and speed has not been seen before. The white will challenge anything out there. Add to that Mark Andy’s demonstrated ability to service and support their customers, and this will be a good thing for global converters. They will have an option they’ve not had before.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

See author’s profile »