The Digital IQ Series Hybrid Press: A Game Changer

Since Guttenberg invented the moveable type press in 1449 there have been incredible advances and changes to the printing and packaging industry. Gutenberg would be surprised to see how far his invention has come in the ensuing years and the technology behind it.

In recent years the demand for shorter runs (think on-time shipping) from clients has never been greater. Instead of stockpiling labels as in the past manufacturers have adopted a “just in time” shipping method like the auto industry. Customers today want consistency and the unique combination of flexo and digital helps produce the quality they want on every run. These new demands have created a change in the printing and packaging industry. Printers must now be able to supply labels and packaging with shorter turnaround times. This means that industry standards must change for the new wave of supply and demand. Investing in printers that are capable of short turnarounds with stellar imaging, color and detail are the new norm.

Century Printing and Packaging has been studying these industry trends and invested heavily in the future of digital printing. Our company made a major investment in digital-hybrid printing technology in order to meet the demands of our customers, improve the quality of the end product, cut down on waste for the environment and deliver stellar imaging. We invested in the Mark Andy Digital IQ Series hybrid press to give us more competitive space where digital printing is becoming a requirement. It allows us to use the flexibility of our flexographic knowledge accumulated from 25 years in addition to the new technology of inkjet to get vibrant colors with uv inks that provide a high level of consistency and durability.

We expect it to increase production and throughput because the Digital IQ series hybrid printer runs at a faster rate than the press we are replacing. In terms of our customers it gives them a wider range of materials that can be printed digitally and opens up opportunities for efficiency with technology that we did not have previously. Because of the consistent nature of the inkjet and the very low set up footage required.

The new technology allows us to group jobs together very easily so we can run them whether short or large for the same customer and gives us a lot of flexibility in scheduling we did not have previously. We have made a significant investment in this press to position ourselves for growth and to meet customer expectations with the highest technology possible within the industry. After four weeks of setup and a lot of manpower from Mark Andy’s staff, our press operators are feeling comfortable with the new technology. In addition to our production department needing training, our pre-press department has made this a seamless effort to deliver consistent quality and results for our clients. Both departments have worked harmoniously to produce stellar imaging and product.

It cuts down the amount of mechanical work that needs to go into adjusting a press to match the color of an existing product. Because of the 60 ft versus 150 ft. per minute and the inkjet technology versus the dry toner technology previously used the speed and throughput will help us increase the amount we can produce on a daily basis.

We are excited to show this technology to our customer base and work with their creative departments to figure out the best use for each of our customers and our partnerships.

John Baer is the Regional Sales Mgr for the digital line of Mark Andy for the Ohio Valley Region:

Why is this printer so revolutionary?

Mark Andy has been successfully manufacturing flexo and converting equipment for 75 years. We’ve been successfully converting and manufacturing machines making labels for 75 years. We introduced digital into our inventory so we could go with more proven technology to keep up with the customer requests, shorter runs, quicker turnaround times, and lean manufacturing.

Advantages of the Hybrid?

The advantage of running digital is it meets the demand for turning around labels at a faster pace with much less inventory. The days of customers ordering thousands and thousands of labels are over, they want shorter runs to use for their current orders and needs.

With digital presses you take the digital concept you have on your desktop from your marketing or pre-press team and they can manipulate the artwork and save it into a pdf or illustrator and rip the file to the digital printer and from there the operator can within minutes start the machine and print that very label.

Flexo has come a long, long way, the quality of flexo over the last twenty years with technology has been incredible. However, with digital, you are taking the ink, with dry toner, inkjet, and spraying the image onto a label directly and the human interaction is minimal. However, with flexo, you still have to fire up the press, mount the plates, mix the inks properly, and do many other steps where there is a lot of interaction between the machine and operators where mistakes can still take place. With digital printing, the only interaction is feeding the artwork from the hot file and inputting the quantity you need. The machine starts up and you are ready to print.

Now the great thing is that you have the best of both worlds because the Digital IQ machine is built off the Mark Andy evolution series press. That press is part of our P-series designs and we have been selling this technology for over a decade with industry-leading results. The Flexo P-Series was one step before digital. Mark Andy designed a servo register driven system and web handling system to get the press into the register for all the final colors you need much faster than the older flexo presses that ran line shafts. The Digital IQ has a pre-register on the press which dramatically saves on waste. You can pre-register the press before it starts to run and by having it in registration faster and after one revolution the servo kicks in and registers each print with the quality you want immediately so it’s ready to print much faster than a flexo printer.

Century has been an outstanding partner of Mark Andy for many years and we know and appreciate Ben and Neil Waldrop and all of their business over the years. Over time Ben and Neil saw there was a need to get into new markets of labels and keep producing the quality labels they have always produced. They wanted to update their technology and lead in the marketplace. So they called us and wanted something with new technology and digital. They knew this would be a significant investment but they also knew the payoff could be successful for their customers. So we went down to Greer, South Carolina, met with Ben and Neil, and took all of their artwork for all the labels they ran for a year. We did a case study and analysis, how many colors, size of the label, amount and quantity of the runs, and so forth. We compared it to our flexo presses and built a worksheet and compared running all of their stuff on a flexo press and what it would be if they ran it on the IQ Digital series. Basically, it’s going to allow them to run a lot of jobs with smaller runs, faster turnaround times, and open opportunities for increasing their portfolio with more sales into new markets.

This is cutting edge for the industry, isn’t it?

There are plenty of great machines out there in the market and they all do very nice work. Digital is becoming more and more popular every day. We are seeing a turn in the industry to digital presses. What Mark Andy has on our side is that we have been successfully producing labels for 75 years. It’s all manufactured within Mark Andy. Seven years ago we jumped into the digital world and created, or manufactured presses that are true hybrid presses. A Mark Andy hybrid press is simply a flexo press that we added digital capabilities to. So anything you can do on a standard flexo press you can do on a Mark Andy digital press and other than the IQ head made by Domino. We picked a partner in the industry that enjoyed a great reputation and performance and integrated it into the Mark Andy Flexo press.

We put their digital station in the middle of our press and still have full functionality of flexo and all converting whether decorations, die-cutting, semi-rotary die-cutting and we have this technology and a beautiful digital engine in the middle of the press that is fully integrated into the OIG system now and the operator doesn’t have to operate two systems. The marriage between the two is beautiful. Every day we are able to offer updates to our customers.

What is your service relationship with this unit for Ben and Neil?

Our services are bar-none the best in the industry. We don’t sell customers presses, we sell integrated solutions. I want to sell a customer a solution. Our service goes beyond the industry with 24/7 technical support, we have a full staff of service technicians located throughout the U.S. to get to customers faster and with less expense.

We also have our own digital expertise with our customers and help them with the press, but all of their front end and train them on how to use the programs. We train the operators and the art/pre-press departments to send to the print operators. We also have a website that is dedicated to all of the equipment we manufacture and has all of our manuals that operators can access, how to videos which we are updating daily so customers don’t have to rely so much on us and hire a new operator and need training they can go online and train. Anyone within Century Printing can have their own login for training.

Century Printing and Packaging is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company located in Greer, South Carolina. Flexographic, roll stock film, flexible packaging, digital printing, CBD, and craft beer labels are among our extensive print products and technologies. We are family-owned and operated. Call us today about all of your printing or packaging needs. Our southeast location allows us to have a two-day shipping point via FedEx or UPS ground to 80% of the U.S population and we can expedite as necessary.

Ben Waldrop
President
Century Printing & Packaging
Greer, SC 29651
800.344.7509