According to Dave Warner, General Manager at Commerce Label, Inc. (CLI), the reason the company decided to add to its existing digital capability with a hybrid was to ‘improve efficiency and maximize output’. This might appear a bold statement from a company that has enjoyed more than a decade of successful digital label production but makes a whole lot more sense when you look at the background to its products and portfolio of customers.
Commerce Label began life in 1991 and operates today from a modern and well-equipped 22,000 sq.ft. facility in Plymouth, MN. Founded by a group of local print professionals, it’s owned and managed today by Jim and Bobbi Senske, Dave Warner, and Adam Schafer. From the early days, CLI focused on using its print and converting expertise to develop relationships and establish a business that was both reliable and trustworthy, focusing on UL/CSA and durable goods.
(left to right) CLI’s VP Sales & Marketing Adam Schafer, General Manager Dave Warner, Mark Andy’s Ted Bright,
CLI’s Co-Founder Bobbi Senske, President Jim Senske, Technical Specialist Harvey Kraus,
Operator AJ Thibodeau and Prepress Manager Tegan Andler with the company’s new Mark Andy Digital Series iQ hybrid press
Adam Schafer, VP Sales & Marketing stated: “We build trust with local customers including product innovation in label applications to UL/CSA compliance. We want CLI to be the ‘go-to’ expert for producing the right label for each application.” The process has clearly worked, because today CLI prides itself on providing print and converting expertise on each inquiry and has secured an extensive customer portfolio that spans many industries.
Brought up on narrow web flexo technology with up to 11-color capability, including a Mark Andy 2200, CLI first invested in digital technology in 2009 with the installation of UV-inkjet press. Explaining this decision, Dave Warner said: “At the time it was a choice between inkjet and toner technology as standalone machines with offline finishing and converting. We chose inkjet because it offered the durability we needed to service our UL/CSA and compliance label customers.”
Move the clock forward 12 years, and the choice facing CLI when it looked to add new digital technology was that things had changed drastically, especially with the advent of hybrid presses. Having performed offline digital finishing for more than 10 years, CLI was keen to see what a hybrid could offer as a means of streamlining manufacturing and maximizing output. Because of the company’s growing need to supply a wide spectrum of SKUs and volume mix, coupled with higher production flexibility, the combination of flexo and digital print technology and inline converting in one hybrid machine was an attractive proposition.
Asked why Mark Andy ended up as the preferred supplier in preference to other manufacturers, Dave Warner stated: “Mark Andy has always been a great partner not only supplying press equipment but also in its dedicated after-sales customer support. When we looked closely at hybrid presses, Mark Andy was the obvious choice because of its engineering capabilities and customer commitment.”
The result was the installation of one of the new Mark Andy Digital Series iQ digital/flexo presses in July 2022. The Digital Series iQ is based on a fully servo-driven Mark Andy Evolution Series flexo platform integrated with a Domino N610i UV-inkjet engine. It is capable of printing 600 x 600dpi in up to seven inkjet colors (CMYKOV + WW) at production speeds up to 230ft/min (70m/min) in high-speed mode or 164ft/min (50m/min) in high-quality mode on a 13” (330mm) web width.
The newly installed Digital Series iQ at CLI’s production facilities in Plymouth is specified with two flexo units before and two after the inkjet engine, which itself has the extended color gamut. The line also has semi-rotary die cutting, web turn bars, and capabilities for cold foil, lamination, and slitting. These extra options were chosen for their ability to handle many of the various embellishments that CLI has traditionally offered its customers, and best of all, the Digital Series iQ has significantly improved speed to market because of its one-pass process, as well as reducing upfront costs.
Asked how he splits jobs between hybrid and flexo, Dave Warner explained: “We analyze job size and complexity and determine the best fit between traditional flexo and producing the job on the Digital Series iQ, taking the product quality and total costs, including prep, into consideration. We are accustomed to this flexo versus digital analysis for the past decade but the Digital Series iQ gives us expanded parameters owing to its width capabilities, inline options, print quality, extended gamut, and print speed.”
According to Adam Schafer, the Digital Series iQ has extended the company’s capabilities as well as added capacity. It has also given us the confidence to service customers with many more SKUs. “We are running new work on it as well as work transitioned from our current digital and flexo presses. The markets we are supplying include industrial goods, durables, electronics, and OEMs, and on the consumer side, labels for nutraceuticals, the food and beverage sector as well as health and beauty.”
Looking ahead, the company will continue to be a solutions provider to its current and future customers, utilizing the wealth of knowledge and expertise accumulated by its staff over the years. Specifically, the company has seen an expansion in the health and beauty and nutraceuticals markets in the past few years including GMI certification. “We will continue to be dedicated to sustainability in design and practice, and engaged in ongoing developments with our trade association, TLMI, where we seek and advocate the least environmental impact towards high performance for our customer’s applications, as well as providing recommendations in design for recycling of labelled containers,” Schafer added.
Concluding for Mark Andy, Sales Manager Ted Bright commented: “To have communicated the Mark Andy hybrid benefits to a quality label converter like CLI and agreed its value as the right production tool for their customers, product portfolio, and ultimately their profitability, says as much for the long-term cooperation between the two companies as the importance of the technology itself and the support involved in ensuring the success of their investment. We are very proud of that relationship and honored to be one of their preferred suppliers. They, like us, believe that hybrid is the way forward.”