31 May, 2018

A journey from black & white photocopying into packaging

McGowans Print in Dublin installs EFI Nozomi C18000 digital press and flirts with packaging production for the first time.

Founded a little over 30 years ago, McGowans Print, has transformed to become Ireland’s largest and one of Europe's most advanced digital print facilities. Originally set up as a photocopying shop, the company ventured into copying of architectural documents, where it made its name. The company, established by Malcolm McGowan, was the first company in Ireland to own a colour photocopier and then transitioned into outputting of documents from computer. Having grown at a sustainable rate, it was its move into large format work and posters that put them on the map.

As the large format market developed, McGowan was keen to explore the latest technology further and came into contact with Benny Landa, owner of Indego at the time. “It was this meeting with Benny Landa that convinced me I needed to get into digital printing,” recounts McGowan. “That changed the shape of my business immensely.”

So with Indego, then Inca and then Agfa and HP, McGowans invested heavily and positioned itself as the largest POS and display manufacturer in Ireland. “We have a wide range of digital printing equipment in our facility, from many different vendors – all types of machines have their sweet spots and we have been happy with the route we have taken to date

Packaging options
Never content to sit back, McGowan saw a great opportunity to enhance print output for digitally printed displays when he heard about the launch of the EFI™ Nozomi C18000 digital press. When he saw the specification, however, he realised he could expand his product offering and move into packaging, albeit in a small way to begin with. He knew he would have the right digital press, but he needed the equipment to be able to offer converting solutions, so took the opportunity to buy a Lamina System folder gluer and a Bickers Gluejet to be complemented by the Young Shin Giant 250 flat bed die-cutter they acquired in late 2015.

The new EFI™ Nozomi C18000 single-pass LED inkjet corrugated board press, (which was the second EFI Nozomi press installed worldwide), coupled with the Lamina and Bickers equipment, is giving McGowans the ability to capture new growth opportunities in short-run corrugated packaging and display production. “We researched all the single-pass technology available for large-format printing and the EFI Nozomi press was the best for our applications,” said McGowan. “The press checks all the boxes for point-of-sale applications and it is now allowing us to quickly enter the packaging market as well. The new press takes us to much longer runs and new markets that we cannot reach today with our existing digital printers.

Press detail
McGowans Print's new press is a 1.8m wide press that can print up to 75 linear metres per minute, producing up to 7,224 sqm per hour. It can print on materials from 14-point card stock to triplewall board, including traditional coated, mottled, bleached and kraft materials, at full press-rated speeds. Additional features include:

A 100% in-line image quality inspection system that actively manages and optimises inkjet nozzle alignment and uniformity errors for the highest possible imaging quality;

  • Production in up to seven colours, including white (standard CMYK with optional orange, violet and white ink stations) for high-quality, accurate output in resolutions up to 360x720 dpi with four-level greyscale imaging;
  • High productivity with a permanent head architecture that eliminates the downtime associated with replacing consumable printheads;
  • A fully integrated, programmable top and bottom-feed system that also handles media separation, lift, transport and alignment at full press speeds.

The new EFI Fiery® digital front end (DFE) that McGowans Print is running with the press utilises the fastest, most-advanced EFI Fiery technology, providing a scalable, ultra-high-volume workflow for high-quality, ultra-high-speed inkjet versioned, multi-SKU or personalised production applications requiring consistency, accuracy and robust management. In addition to the new press and Fiery systems, McGowans Print also uses EFI software to drive its online web-to-print operations.

Integrated solution
“This new LED inkjet press has been designed from the ground up specifically for the corrugated industry,” says Frank Janssen, Sales Director EMEA – Nozomi. “The new inkjet technology’s media handling, inks and software platforms were designed by the engineering, software and ink teams from across EFI. The cross-functional teams focused on understanding the needs of the corrugated industry, leveraging the latest technology to design a revolutionary solution.”

“To create the press, we combined some of the best features from many of our leading-edge development operations, including precision, single-pass inkjet imaging systems from US-based EFI Jetrion® digital press facilities and Cretaprint™ ceramic decoration printer operations in Spain; advanced LED inkjet innovations from our global ink development centres; superwide-format press technology from VUTEk®; scalable Fiery® digital front end (DFE) processing and management technology and cloud-based remote diagnostics and support advancements our Bengaluru, India, technical hub,” explains Javier Quesada, Director, Packaging Business Developer at EFI.

Quesada continues, “Users can increase their productivity with digital in nearly any board application, running everything from 14-point cardstock to a full range of corrugated flutes from the finest microflute to heavy triple wall – without slowing down the press. The corrugated press prints in up to seven colours, including white and provides high-quality output with resolutions up to 360 x 720 dpi with four-level grayscale imaging. An in-line primer will give customers control over dot gain and ink absorption on different types of corrugated top sheets. The Nozomi press’s permanent head architecture eliminates the downtime associated with replacing consumable printheads.”

“EFI is the only major industry manufacturer in the packaging and printing industries that has the full scope of industrial inkjet hardware and ink development, along with DFE and end-to-end manufacturing execution system (MES) and MIS/ERP workflow technologies,” says Janssen. “Integrated DFE and workflow products for the press will elevate the overall productivity and profitability of users’ digital corrugated board manufacturing operations in ways standalone digital print systems cannot accomplish.”

Game changer
“We have been happy with our choice of partner for this project,” concludes McGowan. “EFI have certainly stood by us every step of the way and the Nozomi is helping us get into new markets, particularly decorative packaging. Our investment in the press, as well as the converting equipment, gives us new capabilities and our customers are reacting well to our positive developments. With a three to four year return on investment, this will secure and future-proof our business for the coming decade.”

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