US-based converter Pro Label has installed the first Mark Andy Digital Series iQ hybrid press, based on the company’s servo-driven Evolution Series platform developed jointly with Domino, which supplies the N610i digital inkjet engine.
Pro Label, founded in 1992 to supply labels to the window and construction market, quickly moved into flexo technology to develop prime label business for the food and beverage sectors. Using its knowledge and expertise, the company developed a technology to supply products to the ice cream novelty market. Expanding demand for the company’s high-quality work led it to invest in wider flexo presses with servo drives and, in 2021, to install the new DSiQ hybrid.
‘One of Pro Labels’ great strengths is the close working partnerships we build with our customers, and this gives us real-time feedback on what market trends are developing. By 2020 it was obvious that digital/flexo hybrid technology was the way forward to best serve certain market sectors and the changes in demand that we were experiencing,’ commented Doug Thielen, VP of sales at Pro Label.
After researching what the inkjet and toner press manufacturers had to offer, Pro Label was convinced that a hybrid provided the flexibility needed for its product portfolio.
‘The DSiQ allows us to run stock widths that fit the product with the material on hand, and the flexo element provides added value in terms of coatings, varnishes, metallic colors, and a variety of finishing options. It’s the best of both worlds,’ added Thielen. ‘When you embark on a new project with different technology, you need to be confident in the support you’ll receive from the supplier. We have built a good relationship with Mark Andy people over the years. But in all fairness, the cost was a consideration too, so the fact that the DSiQ was competitively priced made the decision easier.’
The DSiQ was instantly put to work producing labels for the food, beverage, spirits, and OEM sectors, as well as pouches and flexible packaging for the beauty and cosmetics industries, where its variable data capability proved invaluable.
According to the company, the new hybrid press has shown a significant waste reduction when running multiple SKUs, as well as offering quicker turnaround on jobs, some of which are now delivered the same day if required. It has also freed up capacity on the company’s seven 20-in flexo presses, which have up to 10-color capacity and are better suited to longer run work.
As far as Pro Label is concerned, the addition of the DSiQ has had a significant impact on the company’s production capability and efficiency, which in turn has allowed it to serve and develop new market sectors that were previously outside the scope of its flexo presses.
‘We can now fulfill a larger volume of business where many SKUs are involved at one end of the scale as well as offering high-quality short-run work on jobs where the cost of flexo plates would make the job unviable. In fact, we’re only just starting to appreciate the scale of diversification that the new hybrid press offers us in markets we didn’t know existed,’ said Thielen.
With 130 staff generating sales of around USD 25m a year, Pro Label has come a long way from its small beginnings. Now, with BRC, FSC, and GMI accreditation for packaging safety and SMETA audited for Ethical Trade practice, the company can quantify its reputation for top-quality work produced under the highest independent scrutiny.
‘We are honored to be working with such a high-quality company as Pro Label and delighted that it was the first to install our new DSiQ hybrid press – this will make a great showcase for Mark Andy technology, and I’m confident it will continue to open new opportunities for Pro Label,’ concluded Ted Bright, digital sales manager at Mark Andy.