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Bobst’s Master DM5 adds an inkjet module to the M5 flexo press to create a hybrid that can run flexo, digital or a combination of both, by Nessan Cleary.

What does the machine do?

The Bobst Master DM5 is a hybrid narrow web press that combines flexo and inkjet printing in one press. Essentially, Bobst has taken its existing Master M5 press and added the digital unit, which comes from Bobst’s Mouvent
subsidiary and is actually the print engine from the LB702-series inkjet label presses.

However, it is unlike other hybrid flexo presses because it can print a range of jobs, including all-flexo, all-digital or a combination. Federico D’Annunzio, Bobst’s program manager for hybrid printing, says: “I don’t like the term hybrid because it means you have one dominant technology. But I believe the press we have made is a digital label press where all the elements are digitised, the flexo and the waste stripping, so everything is digitally automated.”

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
The DM5 was officially launched at last September’s Labelexpo in Brussels.

It takes media up to 370mm wide so that it’s mainly aimed at the label market. The M5 is already available in a choice of widths including 430mm and 530mm, which could also be used for some packaging, such as pouches. D’Annunzio says it’s relatively easy to develop a wider version: “If we see the market needs a 510mm, then we can make it.”

How does it work?
The trend in narrow web-flexo presses has been to add increasing amounts of automation to reduce makeready times and allow the presses to compete against digital label presses for short and medium run jobs. However, Bobst has cranked this spirit of automation up a level to reduce the changeover time needed for the flexo units to the same level as an all-digital press. Bobst has achieved this by designing the units to take two jobs at once, as D’Annunzio explains: “Normally you have to stop the press to change the print cylinders, but here you don’t. Every process has been digitised. You place a cylinder and when you need it, you click a button and automatically the old job goes away and the new job comes in. The camera comes out and automatically adjusts the register and the pressure. So the operator doesn’t touch the machine. It’s digital flexo.”

This same philosophy runs from the printing units through to all the converting stages, including cold foiling, varnishing and die-cutting. D’Annunzio adds: “Even the waste stripping is completely automated. So you can change all the jobs in one second.”

How does it differ from previous models?
This is the first time that Bobst has offered a hybrid narrow web press. That said, it is based on the M5, with the difference being the addition of the Mouvent inkjet unit that converts it into a hybrid press.

How fast/productive is it?
The DM5 can be used to produce flexo, digital or a combination of the two. The flexo units can run at 200mpm, which is the same as the standard M5. However, this slows down to 100mpm for the digital units, which run at 1,200x1,200dpi, the same speed and resolution as Mouvent’s own inkjet machines. Mouvent says that it could have increased the speed of the digital unit to match that of the flexo units by reducing the resolution, but that the market demand is for higher resolution rather than faster speeds, particularly on short-run jobs.

What is the USP of the product?
At first glance, the most unique element of the DM5 might appear to be the inkjet unit since this is the only hybrid press using the compact Mouvent print module, complete with its high resolution Fujifilm Samba printheads.

However, what really sets this press apart is the flexo units with their ability to hold two jobs at once, so that jobs can be changed over in a matter of seconds.

Most hybrid presses are designed to run jobs that mix flexo with digital, but the DM5 is also able to run pure flexo or pure digital jobs as well.

How easy is it to use?
According to Bobst, the DM5 has a simple and intuitive interface for both the flexo and digital elements that shouldn’t present any experienced operator with too many problems.

What training and service support is on offer?
Bobst offers training services that can be customized according to customer needs and experience. There is a Maintenance Premium service plan that includes maintenance inspections, remote trouble shooting, repairs and spare parts.

Specifications

Width (web/image) 370mm/360mm
Substrates Self-adhesive label stock
Speed flexo 200mpm
Speed inkjet 100mpm
Inkjet technology Mouvent Cluster/ Fujifilm Samba
Inkjet resolution 1,200x1,200dpi
Inkjet colours Up to seven

Alternative

MPS Symjet
There are several hybrid flexo presses, but not many others that can print either complete flexo or inkjet jobs as well as a mix of the two processes. However, the MPS Symjet combines a complete Domino N610 inkjet unit with an MPS EF flexo press to do just that. There’s also a 17ins version based on the new EFS flexo chassis that was launched last year.