When digital presses first appeared on the market many years ago, they were assumed as a threat to conventional printing. However, market changes, developing technology and opportunities accordingly to the digital solutions have proven digital technology to be complementary solution rather than an alternative one. Many offset and flexo printers looking to grow and meet their customers’ needs, have decided to invest in digital presses. We are now seeing a similar trend with hybrid solutions. Mark Andy, as a leading manufacturer of such presses, which combine different printing and embellishment techniques into a single machine, has shown increases in the number of hybrid solutions sold year by year. Moreover, some of the company’s customers have decided to buy multiple hybrid solutions offered by Mark Andy, confirming maturity, flexibility and comprehensiveness of this technology. In terms of hybrid, Poland is one of the best-selling markets for the American manufacturer. To date, Mark Andy has delivered more than 30 toner- and inkjet-based hybrid solutions to Polish printers and converters, making the company number one among hybrid vendors in the country. The Polish market also has a significant share in the entire sales of Mark Andy’s hybrid solutions in Europe.
Picture 1: The online live demontration on the Mark Andy Digital Series HD in Mark Andy Poland Technology Center
It’s happening again: once digital, nowadays hybrid
“Mark Andy’s top priority has always been following customers’ expectations and constantly changing market needs – states Przemyslaw Polkowski, Country Manager Mark Andy Poland. – As the leading manufacturer of narrow-web presses and with more than 75 years of market experience, we have been conscious of many trends that affect the label market, including the growing popularity of digital printing. In 2017 we installed the first Digital Series and Digital One hybrid presses in Europe. What’s interesting, both pioneer implementations were realized at the Polish printing houses. Our hybrid offer has been constantly expanded and currently it covers two series of presses, based on inkjet and toner techniques”.
“At the beginning many customers were quite restrained to invest in this new technology – Polkowski continues. – Some of them, especially those more conservative ones, had been using conventional printing for decades and didn’t even want to talk about hybrid and its opportunities. Despite this initial reservation, we’re now observing dynamic sales growth for hybrid solutions. Specific to the Polish market, we have already implemented more than 30 hybrid presses in this country. Moreover, in 2022 we have delivered second or third hybrid presses to the same customers, which is always a special occasion to celebrate. The current dilemma for many printers is not about whether to invest in a hybrid press but rather when to invest for it to be most profitable and impactful on further growth. According to recent market research, ordered by Pekao SA bank, production of the global packaging industry is worth approximately 1 billion USD. Almost 60% of global demand is generated by food and beverage industries. Production structure is dominated by two kinds of packaging: paper- and plastic-based – which cover approximately 70% of the industry’s sales. In this context, Poland is quite a significant market, holding at 3rd place in the EU in terms of packaging export. During the last two years our country has increased its export sales, dynamically affecting rapid growth of the whole national packaging industry. This includes 2020, a year highly affected by a pandemic crisis. Moreover, last year the Polish packaging market noted a dynamic recovery, including export. As a result, a positive balance of trade in packaging has increased four times since 2010. The above data also implies good results for the label market which is strongly tied with packaging. We see a lot of new investments in Poland, enabling further growth for our printers. We’re very happy to see many hybrid Mark Andy presses as a first-choice solution of many label converters. As a person responsible for this market in Poland, I’m very proud about our latest sales results”.
Decreasing label runs, demand for new packaging and label designs, a need for renewing and diversifying, versioning, pressure on shorter delivery times and higher quality, growing number of smaller companies, and manufacturers ordering smaller runs – all these aspects have caused many printers to change their views on hybrid technology. It is becoming more well received as an appropriate response to all these challenges. This is true for both new players on the Polish label market, for whom hybrid was a starting point, as well as established companies with long traditions that had been based on conventional printing. Both these customer types have selected hybrid technology, appreciating its advantages and benefits, especially concerning changes on the jobs market. “Hybrid presses enable maintaining current customers, but also getting new ones who have other needs – Przemyslaw Polkowski continues. – Moreover, hybrid presses open completely new opportunities for their users. The investment in hybrid generates further growth for label converters and that’s why they really appreciate this technology. In many cases a hybrid press is a necessity in terms of production profitability. The majority of our “hybrid” customers are very familiar with the technology after its full implementation so they use the equipment in a full scale, with the highest uptime possible”.
Przemysła Polkowski Mark Andy Poland Director
Key benefits of hybrid technology
The printers and converters who have decided to implement hybrid technology point out its key advantages and benefits; profitable production of smaller runs, ability to implement variable data printing, high quality and color stability even in case of demanding jobs, printing and converting in one pass that makes a production more economic and convenient. In addition, according to users, hybrid presses can handle a wide range of substrates, a big advantage when it comes to creating an interesting label design. Przemyslaw Polkowski points out: “Hybrid presses enable manufacturing of labels to support expectations of the most demanding end users, including brand owners looking for premium products with many embellishment options and complicated designs. On the other hand, they also satisfy the customers who expect simple label design in diversified runs, something which has been historically unprofitable when produced in flexo technology. Among many non-typical substrates our customers mention e.g. structural papers for wine labels or so called highly absorbent papers”.
“Additional benefits of implementing a hybrid solution also should be mentioned – Polkowski continues. – Our customers point out a reduction in waste and energy as well as less time spent on job or design approval. All these factors generate significant savings in production – a very important issue for every converter”.
According to Mark Andy’s hybrid users, they achieve 50% (or even higher) reduction in waste generated during production of short and medium runs. They also underline energy efficiency of these presses as they need approximately 50% less energy than a conventional flexo press. Moreover, they generate a minimum amount of ink waste. All these factors are significantly important for the companies trying to operate according to sustainability policies.
“Roadmap” of investment in Mark Andy hybrid press
“If any of the issues mentioned speak to the needs and expectations of your customers, or if these benefits can support your company’s future growth, let’s work together to create a roadmap of a possible investment in hybrid – says Polkowski. – We’ll start from analyzing your needs and your customers’ needs. Taking both into consideration, we will match an appropriate solution from our wide range of offerings, train your employees, advise and suggest how to use a hybrid to make it a very profitable solution. The sales process is just the start to our complex and comprehensive co-operation with customers. For many years Mark Andy has offered numerous options of support, supplying a package of practical information based on our long-term experience and numerous tests run internally and in a co-operation with customers. We also have a selection of videos on our YouTube channel which cover our gamut of press models, as well as case studies and customer testimonials. We invite you to do your research, then contact us if you’re considering investment in hybrid technology, now or in the future”.