"The moment we laid eyes on the concept and the prototype, we knew that we would want to be the first to have and operate the M-Press," says Slade.
Now the new machine is installed in the printworks in southeast London and Slade’s enthusiasm is unbroken.
"In the 80 years of our company’s history we have always been innovative and open to new technical developments – the M-Press matches our philosophy exactly. The concept of a fully automatic print line which combines the advantages of digital and screen printing is simply revolutionary."
The fully automatic print line installed at SMP consists of:
• automatic sheet feeder, which ensures maximum production efficiency
• infeed section for automatic and accurate material positioning
• four-colour inkjet printing station equipped with a dual curing system
• a screen-printing unit for spot colours, white or varnish printing
• final UV curing system, and
• sheet stacker, which facilitates further processing and packaging of the jobs.
The M-Press is the result of a partnership between two market leaders in their respective fields - it combines the innovative inkjet technology of Agfa with the experience of Thieme in the development and production of high-performance screen printing systems.
The newly developed inkjet system with 64 multilevel print heads can print two billion drops per second with minimum drop sizes of eight pictolitres (billionth of a litre). The greyscale print head technology allows smoother density transitions and sharper image detail.
Thanks to the integrated screen-printing unit, the digital prints can be produced with white print, spot colours or varnish in a single throughput.
The print line is suitable for printing rigid and flexible materials with a thickness of up to 10mm and a maximum sheet format of 1,660 x 2,660mm with a maximum print size of 1,600 x 2,600 mm; throughput is up to 100s/hr. The M-Press can therefore achieve a level of productivity hitherto unheard of in digital printing and is predestined for large-format, high-volume applications.
Slade is already looking forward to working as a beta tester. "We are now the first company in the world to offer this M-Press breakthrough technology to our customers. It brings a new level of cost effectiveness to digital printing, as well as high productivity and print quality.
“We are confident that it puts us ahead of any competitor," says Slade.
At Thieme, we feel that the partnership with SMP has been absolutely positive and target-oriented from the very beginning," says Konrad Vosteen, Digital Product manager for Thieme.
"The perfect day-to-day co-operation of the teams on-site and the ongoing printing of commercial jobs is improving the product every day and provides us with valuable feedback to move fast towards series-production readiness of the M-Press.”