A hybrid press that is both operator friendly and highly versatile can have a measurable impact on packaging operations. After all, with the insertion of digital print technology into the market space, printers are realizing improved graphics and image repeatability. Among the factors contributing to the acceptance of multiprocess print: modular flexibility. Today’s converters appreciate the flexibility to marry digital print assets with leading edge modular technology of inline flexography decoration—one of the most essential hybrid press features.
Customization and expansion of the packaging line to incorporate finishing solutions after the press has been installed is essential. As business grows and needs arise, you don’t want to be locked into a specific configuration.
Hybrid Press Costs & Turnaround
With the label market moving toward lower costs, quick shipments and reduced inventory, it is important to select a hybrid press machine that fits into that model. These characteristics include shorter web path and improved digital-to-flexo registration.
Keeping scrap reduction (cost) in mind, it is important to understand and train proper setup to maximize profit.
Most hybrid technology incorporates a digital print engine into a flexo platform. With a complicated network of software signals communicating simultaneously, it is important to the process to utilize a digital platform with a track record of higher uptime and lower required daily maintenance.
It would be a disadvantage to invest in a hybrid press that requires significant amount of start-up, mid-job and end-of-day upkeep. This can be managed with a digital platform that is self-maintaining and self-cleaning, allowing for more time in production.
Digital Print Quality
Print quality is far more complicated than speaking in resolution. Take into account drop sizes, gray levels, ink density consistency, CMYK registration, stitching, etc.
Does the platform compensate resolution for speed, or is resolution consistent, regardless of speed? Typically, digital is a slower, more consistent process that delivers repeatable quality. Understand the tradeoffs of higher speeds (print head stress, ink cure rate, print resolution) and determine if the long-term effects are worth the short-term benefits.
Does your new digital hybrid asset provide a single contact for sales, installation, training, service and parts?
The strain of dealing with multiple vendors (hybrid collaboration or near-line workflow) over the life of capital equipment can take a toll on production and cash flow. Look at your digital asset and understand if you are dealing with one business partner for the life of that machine—or if is it two, or potentially three.
About the Author: Keith Nagle is digital product manager at Nilpeter USA. He has more than 20 years of successful experience in international print applications with recognized strengths in digital print technologies, digital prepress, pressroom troubleshooting, account transition, operator training, product development, color control and new applications development. Keith has spoken at several FTA events, most recently Forum 2017.