Installed in February, the unique system was the result of an ongoing three-year collaboration between Bury St Edmunds-based Abbey and manufacturer MPS Systems.
The project was intended to develop a die-cutting system that could speed up production and makes use of a Fast Track Die module from AB Graphic to reach speeds of up to 150m/min and a repeat of up to 508mm. Abbey chair Tom Allum first spotted the module at Drupa 2016 on an HP Indigo 8000 and wanted to add it to a narrow-web flexo system.
“I firmly believe that this press with this particular option is a real game-changer not only for us, but for the flexo industry,” he said.
“The Fast Track Die was demonstrated as an inline solution for a digital press when we first saw it in action in Germany. My immediate reaction was that it would be a better fit on a flexo press, which prints at much higher speeds and so could take full advantage of this super-fast die-cutting capability.
“With our in-depth knowledge of MPS and ABG’s technologies, Abbey Labels has been the ideal company to test and drive this development forward. We have a long experience in rotary die-cutting and we know exactly how we are going to benefit from the power of the Fast Track Die.”
Abbey’s new MPS press takes material up to 340mm wide printed at speeds up to 200m/min. It is the company’s fifth flexo system, joining two more MPS lines and two Gallus Arsoma lines.
The new composite system represents the second stage in a three-step, 18-month, £1.1m investment drive which began last July with the arrival of Abbey’s third AB Graphic Digicon Series 3 digital finisher.
The third phase is now underway, focusing on the extension of Abbey’s facilities. This will involve the 370sqm unit next door to the firm’s main base, which it acquired in 2018, being extended by a further 280sqm to create a new warehouse for materials and consumables while the existing warehouse at Abbey will become the new finishing department.
Abbey Labels employs 40 members of staff on £6.3m turnover, which Allum aims to increase to £7m once the investment drive has concluded.