Bobst launches digital print subsidiary, unveils first machines

Max Goldbart
Friday, July 7, 2017

Bobst has launched a new subsidiary dedicated purely to digital printing, and signalled its first move into the textile and label printing space.

Mouvent was formed in late May as joint venture between Bobst and inkjet technology developer Radex but was given its official launch at its Wetzikon, Switzerland site yesterday (6 July). Bobst holds 50.1% of the shares and the rest are held by Radex shareholders, which has now ceased to exist as a company. 

At the conference, Mouvent, which will be headed up by Radex co-founder Piero Pierantozzi, announced its first three printers, one for textile printing and two UV inkjet machines for labels. 

Bobst chief executive Jean-Pascal Bobst said the development is a “watershed moment” for the future of digital printing.

Bobst said: “Today is a very special day. Our transformation started in 2009 when we announced that we wanted to be a major player in the world of digital printing. We want to be a leading player in digital now with industrial solutions; these evolutions are now part of our life.”

The 1.8m-wide eight-colour Mouvent TX801 is a multi-pass textile printer, capable of speeds up to 100m/min on a wide variety of fabrics with a maximum resolution of 1,200dpi.

The two UV-inkjet label printers, the LB701-UV and LB702-UV, both single-pass machines, are 170mm-wide and 340mm-wide respectively, also printing at 100m/min and offering 1,200dpi resolution on paper, self-adhesive labels and flexible materials.

The TX801 is available immediately while the label printers will be given their official launch at Labelexpo, Brussels, taking place from 25 to 28 September.

Two more textile printers are slated for release, one will be 3.4m-wide and will be released by the end of this year and the other will be single-pass and is due out in 2018. Pierantozzi said the machines cover 80% of the job “from roll to production”. Price was not disclosed.

The machines are based on Mouvent Cluster technology, a technology that Radex began developing from 2013 when it was formed by Pierantozzi and others after his previous business, Graph-Tech, was acquired by Domino Printing Sciences in 2012. It was 12 to 15 months ago that Pierantozzi first started speaking to Bobst about the possibility of combining and launching a new subsidiary. 

The clusters use Fujifilm Dimatix Samba printheads and are designed to power machines running at up to 100m/min, at 1,200dpi resolution and 2,000dpi optical resolution. Each cluster is described as having four layers: electronics, ink supply, mechanical and printhead, and clusters are then put together in varying combinations to form a scalable Mouvent Matrix, dependent on the machine.

Each cluster, which supports the printhead, electronics and ink supply, is 3D printed in-house, although Pierantozzi did not disclose the machine being used to print these and how much each cluster costs to print.

Speaking to PrintWeek, Pierantozzi said: “This is the next generation. I think we are within the first that comes with 1,200dpi heads, so it’s faster, higher quality and we believe we have reached a very high integration level.

“Everything is integrated, we have no connectors, all the connectors are printed and they come out in one piece. So the number of parts is drastically reduced."

Mouvent develops, engineers, tests and industrialises its printers in-house based on the cluster. It develops water-based inks and coatings for various substrates, also in-house.

It has 80 employees now operating across five sites in Switzerland, with headquarters in Solothurn and the Wetzikon site focusing on textiles. 15 Radex engineers had previously been working on the technology but now a larger number of Bobst employees have moved over to the new company.   

“The beauty [with Radex] was no customers, no daily business, just 100% focused on that, we had nothing else in mind and the outcome is the cluster,” added Pierantozzi.

“We started with traditional manufacturing, metal, and then wanted to do some prototypes and in the end decided to fully produce it 3D, which really opened up new ways.”

Infotrends director Ralf Schlozer, who attended the conference, said the Mouvent technology was “an interesting concept”.

“It is exciting and I’d need to look at it more but there may be the need for a bit of fine-tuning with end users,” he said. 

Last month, Bobst launched its web-fed service offering to the UK.

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