September 2017 was an important milestone for Mark Andy, marking one year since the Digital One was released into the market. The press was debuted at Labelexpo Americas 2016, and has continued to attract label producers in a variety of industries and segments.
The Digital One was created following interviews with 147 customers, having asked what it would take to create a practical digital label press for the everyday converter. Customers in the study were from around the world and managed different types of print shops, but according to Tim Brasher, director of business development at Mark Andy, responses from all parties reported they could no longer be competitive on new short run bids, and they wanted a way around outsourced work where money was lost. “I heard time and time again label converters needed a profitable way to stay competitive on delivery times, a way to free up their flexo presses for long runs, and reduce costs on materials for their short runs.” Brasher said.
In the end, Mark Andy uncovered that the typical converter needed something affordable to buy, dependable to run, and profitable to operate. After examining the interviewees prime label work, the company developed a configuration that has been proven to support over 80 per cent of prime label applications. Looking back a year later, results from the install base proves Mark Andy was on the right track. A customer in Denver reports, “Overtime is non-existent, sales are up, and plate spend is down 18 per cent.” Another advocate and owner of the entry-level solution, Rami Akhras, Labels Unlimited, said, “The true value of this press is the ability to completely use our existing material. Leftover substrate from a flexo press is no longer waste and can be used on the digital. We don’t need to buy any media specifically for this press.”
Tom Schelmbauer, VP of engineering, Mark Andy, said, “from the beginning, we believed label converters would value the ability to run standard flexo materials instead of specially primed material. So our new product development team leveraged our web handling expertise to create proprietary tension control systems. Because of that, we are the only entry press on the market that can handle unprimed substrates as narrow as six inches.” The company has also announced the release of special die tooling adapters that customers can purchase to get more mileage out of legacy tooling-both narrow OEM and competitive tools.
Since launching in Fall 2016, over 60 all-inclusive printing and converting units have been sold. Production crews, based out of Mark Andy’s global headquarters in Chesterfield, Missouri, USA, are building and shipping two units every week to keep up with the demand. On the subject of the response to the product, Brasher said: “Global adoption and interest in the press has been terrific. We have installations in Chile, Canada, India, Ireland, Poland, Australia, and sales with forthcoming installations in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, England, France, Georgia, India, Italy, Scotland, and Spain. We are excited to be busy and even more excited about the amount of product and profit our owners are experiencing off this press.”
Part of the Digital One success across a range of markets is the technical versatility of the press. Schelmbauer added, “we figured the price of the Digital One would attract interest from different markets, so the machine was designed to combat many different applications.” A application capability to note is in-line sheeting with diecutting, useful for those who manufacture drum labels or ‘stickers’ for retail sale.
When asked about why the Digital One has seen such rapid sales, Brasher said: “The modern state of label printing is not new to anyone; run lengths are shrinking, competition is increasing, print quality is crucial, and customers require shorter lead times. Digital One is a practical digital prime label press for the value investor looking for profitability in the modern state of printing.”