Abbey Labels has worked with MPS Systems to integrate an AB Graphic’s patented Fast Track Die high-speed die-cutting technology on its newest flexo press to increase efficiencies and double the cutting speed in line with its ambitious expansion plans.
UK-based printing company supplies BRC grade and ISO 14001 approved labels to the food, beverage, cosmetics, industrial, security and pharmaceutical industries from its base in Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk.
For the most recent initiative Abbey Labels worked closely with Dutch press manufacturer MPS Systems to develop a die-cutting solution by combining AB Graphic’s patented Fast Track Die and the latest flexo press technology from MPS. The project has taken a few years and is the first of its kind technology integration in the world.
Tom Allum, Abbey Labels chairman explained: ‘The Fast Track Die was demonstrated as an inline solution for a digital press when we first saw it in action in Germany. My immediate reaction was that it would be a better fit on a flexo press, which prints at much higher speeds and so could take full advantage of this super-fast die-cutting capability.’
Abbey Labels has turned to MPS to explore this idea further and three years later a new MPS EFS 340 flexo press with a Fast Track Die module has been installed at the company’s facility to bring savings in downtime and costs.
‘When Abbey Labels first introduced the idea of us combining the ABG Fast Track Die with our EF platform, we had a few reservations in terms of integration and what it would involve,’ said Nick Tyrer, sales director at MPS UK. ‘However, our past collaborations with ABG, integrating the Big Foot flatbed hot foil system had gone very well, so we decided to give the customer exactly what they wanted.’
With a top speed of 150m/min and a repeat of up to 508mm, the new semi-rotary die-cutting module enables the speed of cutting to be more than doubled compared to conventional single-anvil semi-rotary systems. It also enables much quicker to change overs as the magnetic cylinder always stays in place.
Barry Pettit, managing director of Abbel Labels added: ‘The benefits in time savings should be immense. We’re a short to medium run printer and we’re constantly changing size, so if you’re saving 20 minutes every time you do that, we’re looking at a huge improvement.’
‘The whole project was a very exciting concept. Apart from being a world first, it was also going to be a very challenging technical integration that would offer web transport, tension and register questions that we not encountered previously. Thankfully the engineering departments of both ABG and MPS were able to overcome these challenges and give Abbey Labels a machine that really challenges the conventional model when converting labels,’ added Tyrer.