Clustered Print Heads for Digital Printing

In 2017 a Bobst division called Mouvent unveiled a new digital label press that is differentiated primarily by its use of print head clusters.

Pressure sensitive labels for a craft brewer are a good example of what Aptech produces on its Mouvent LB701 digital press.
Pressure sensitive labels for a craft brewer are a good example of what Aptech produces on its Mouvent LB701 digital press.

Each cluster consists of four Fuji Samba digital ink-jet print heads. Each head has its own fully integrated mechanics, ink management, and software, and each four-head cluster prints one color: cyan, magenta, yellow, or black. Mouvent UV-curable inks are also part of the package. Print resolution is 1200x1200 dpi and print speed is 70 m/min.

When Aptech Graphics installed its LB701 Mouvent press in early 2020, it was one of the first in the U.S. to commercialize this cluster technology. “It brings us a distinct advantage of quality and the ability to dial it in and get consistent laydown,” says Aptech President Mark Mader. “I waited for this technology to come out partly because I could see it would be affordable.” (A Mouvent video says “Enter digital printing at 280,000 euros.) “Don’t get me wrong,” adds Mader, “nothing is free, but this is a quality press delivering high resolution and is a great value.”

Customers most typically ordering labels from the new press include food, beverage, household goods, cannabis, and craft brewers. When asked if there’s a “sweet spot” in terms of the number of labels in a production run, Mader says it can vary pretty widely. “We’ve run millions for some customers and tens of thousands for others. But one thing we really like is how fast the press runs. We can print 100,000 labels for 16-oz cans in a day. It’s enabled us to go after some work that would ordinarily be flexo work.”

Pressure-sensitive roll-to-roll label substrates Aptech prints on include both film and paper. “The inks go on aggressively enough that we don’t even need to apply an overvarnish to protect them,” he says. “And they have a really nice gloss.”

Mouvent says that while thus far in the packaging space they’ve only produced label presses, other equipment is in the pipeline. Go to pwgo.to/6064 to see a video animation of the Mouvent technology.

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