Mid-web presses buy printers a ticket into a wider arena of end-use markets, while enhancing existing capabilities.
by Jessica Millward, Associate Editor
THOUGH NOT THE ingenue of the press world it was a few years ago, the mid-web press still attracts its fair share of attention as a "new kid" of printing technology. Combining many of the best features of both narrow- and wide-web technology, the move to mid-web has expanded the product portfolios of several package printers.
In the case of flexographic wide-web converter Plastic Packaging, Inc. (PPI), headquartered in Hickory, NC, the company's desire to enter the lightweight board business led to its first experiment with the mid-web format.
PPI Operations Manager Dan Chamley reports in looking for an entry point into that market, management realized it would be beneficial to employ a press that could run both new jobs in light board as well as bread-and-butter film work.
Between PPI's Hickory plant and its site in Forest City, NC, the company operates eight presses, ranging in web width from 45˝ to 64˝. Earlier this year, PPI invested in a nine-color, 26˝ Comco ProGlide MSP™ to handle both films and board stocks up to 18 pt.
In addition to handling different substrates, Chamley recalls, he had other demands of the new press. "I asked for treaters and the ability to facilitate lamination in-line … I also asked for the ability to run board, to be able to take stock back and re-register it after you've run nine colors, and run a tenth color with coating."
Chamley notes the transition to the mid-web mentality wasn't difficult: "The MSP fits right in with our quick changeover mentality." The primary challenge for PPI's operators was instead the shift to UV flexo printing. After an extended training period, however, PPI's confidence in running the new press multiplied, and the results thus far have been profitable for the company. Chamley predicts PPI will purchase two more mid-web Comco units within the next several years.