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With flexography still serving as the primary source of label printing, it’s no secret that demand for these conventional presses continues in 2019. These are not the presses of yesteryear, though. Manufacturers are continually devising ways to modernize their machines, especially with the inclusion of automation.

Mark Andy, a printing press supplier based in Chesterfield, MO, USA, has not slowed down its development of its award-winning Performance Series line of flexo presses. Even as the company totes its more digital-friendly options–Digital One and Digital Series HD–flexo is still a significant driver of Mark Andy’s business.

Mark Andy has a wide range of offerings for customers, including the P7E, P5E, P4 and P3 presses. The company also recently launched the P9E. “The future-proof Performance Series platform (or P-Series) provides converters equipment to not only meet but exceed the ever-evolving demands converters continue to face,” explains Jeff Cowan, Mark Andy’s director of business development, Performance Series. “The market seems to approve, as we have about 1,000 presses in production, including our latest press, the P9E. In fact, the latest generation of Performance Series presses has been driven by in-depth research and conversations with converters. Performance Series E is a result of a need for more automation, business diversification and higher quality flexible packaging on narrow web presses.”

The newest line of flexo presses includes a more automated control system, faster press setup times and higher max press speeds. Cowan adds that Mark Andy made these improvements without compromising on the machines’ simplicity, reliability and flexibility to increase operator productivity and business profitability.

According to Mark Andy, Performance Series customers are consistently reporting 60% faster changeover times and a 50% reduction in their material waste compared to legacy flexo technology.

Automation and simplicity come in response to the growing concern about the next generation of flexo press operators. As tenured employees begin to retire, converters will need a new workforce to run these presses.

“One of the biggest obstacles label and packaging converters either are or will be facing is an industry-wide skills gap in their pressroom personnel,” says Cowan. “This has caused Mark Andy to not only focus on press automation but also reinvigorate efforts to maximize the overall ease of use of the Performance Series E. What that means is not only are we working to limit the number of manual variables to better ensure consistency and efficiency, our engineers are also looking toward forecasted trends of operator shortages and designing presses that are operator-friendly and easy to use while still incorporating the latest flexo technology, ultimately producing the highest quality of labels and packaging possible.”

The Performance Series offers the latest in servo technology, enabling greater accuracy in pre-registration and auto registration. The new Mark Andy P9E press supports a wide array of applications and substrates, including flexible packaging, shrink sleeves, expanded content labels and more. The press is available in web widths of 13”, 17”, 22” and 26”, and it runs at a maximum speed of 1,000 fpm.

“The P9E has brought a lot of new features to the Performance Series platform, allowing converters to automate intelligently with standard servo controlled impression, side adjust and anilox drive, along with servo print cylinder and impression roll drives,” says Cowan. “These features offer the option to include full camera based impression and registration control.”

Across the entire platform, the Performance Series presses, come with modular, recirculation dryers designed to offer higher performance with up to 50% lower energy consumption. “We continue to push the market toward LED UV curing with our ProLED system,” adds Cowan.

Additional press upgrades, such as QCDC-SR, the company’s semi-rotary diecutting technology, and Digital Plus Screen, a digital screen printing retrofit, are also available. “We’re working to also maximize not only new but existing Performance Series presses, as well,” he says. “The rail-mount flexibility offered with the P-Series expands the variety of applications and industries that a press can efficiently serve with easy movement of advanced decorating options–both now and in the future.”

Even as the industry sees more of a shift to digital printing, flexo technology will not notice a slowdown any time soon, says Cowan.

“There is, and will always be, a place for flexo,” he says. “Even as digital continues to gain momentum, the continued advancement in modern flexo technology–with a focus on high productivity–ensures its place in pressrooms worldwide. Not to mention, it’s the backbone of the most profitable digital hybrid presses in the market. Mark Andy’s digital equipment is only as good as our flexo, so we will continue to invest in improving and advancing our flexo technology to best benefit both our flexo and digital customers.”


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