The term 'hybrid' has been bandied about a lot in the last year and it covers a wide range of options when it comes to merging analogue and digital production methods. While the phrase may be overused, please bear with me as it is worth taking a look at some of the many varieties of the species, says Neel Madsen
It was the word de jour at last year's Labelexpo, but while it could be argued that the market is not big enough to support that many hybrid, or combination, presses, some jobs lend themselves perfectly to this particular print method. This can be achieved in a several ways - by adding a smaller inkjet module onto an existing press or converting line framework, or by incorporating a full digital print engine into an analogue platform thereby creating a new configuration, and in effect, a new printing press. Examples of the latter have been brought to market through cooperation between established press manufacturers from the conventional and digital worlds.
A digital platform
With its Digital Series press platform, Mark Andy offers a line of fully integrated technology for single pass inline converting using UV inkjet combined with finishing options. The 330 mm wide press, which prints at speeds up to 76 m/min, can be configured in four colour process plus white with any inline converting process, decorating or finishing operation that would be installed on a traditional flexo press. The Digital Series shares a common platform with the Performance Series technology, which enables it to take advantage of the quick change designs of the Performance Series flexo print station and QCDC (Quick Change Die Cut) die station, for fast changeovers. The front end utilizes ProWORX powered by Esko and will integrate into any current workflow structure. Consumables are supplied using a pay-as-you-use model.
The company stresses that converters can design the press to meet their specific needs, and that custom configurations can be modified as business needs evolve, making the technology future-proof. This in turn provides a lower capital path to stay on top of the latest technology as only a portion of the press needs to be updated as new advances are made.