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Nilpeter FA-4*: A platform for short-run flexibility

Established in 1924, Marschall GmbH & Co. KG began offering pressure-sensitive roll-fed labels in 1986. Since then, the company has focused on labels for technical applications, in short and medium run lengths. In such circumstances, many might have opted for a digital printing system – but, in December 2014, managing director of Marschall, Friedel Sellmann, invested in the Nilpeter FA-4* 6-colour flexo printing press instead.


Managing Director Friedel Sellmann (right) from Marschall and Bernd Fiebig from Nilpeter GmbH

The company employs 20 people and produces mainly labels for technical applications on five presses. Run lengths for these applications are typically between 10,000 to 250,000 labels; only in exceptional circumstances do they extend into the millions. At the moment, the majority of Marschall’s output is paper, but film composites and other speciality substrates generate the most value.

Marschall has always produced these jobs by flexo. The large amount of small- and medium-sized runs prompted the company some years ago to think about adopting digital printing.
"We have constantly watched the development of InkJet printing. However, we have not seen the expected breakthrough", says Friedel Sellmann. "Although there has been considerable progress, there are still several questions in our opinion. As a relatively small company, we did not want to assume the role of a pioneer which in the end could jeopardize our existence."

Because of this, the decision was taken to postpone the adoption of digital printing.
During a comparison of technical data and performance capabilities of presses from various manufacturers, the subsidiary of the Danish press manufacturer, Nilpeter GmbH from Hannover, came into play.

"The technical know-how about printing details and its practical industry experience that Nilpeter GmbH brought along were important factors in our decision-making phase", recalls Friedel Sellmann. Marschall opted for a 420 mm (16.5 inches)-wide Nilpeter FA-4* press.
For Friedel Sellmann, the FA-4* is a real alternative to digital printing solutions when it comes to short runs. Experience at Marschall points to the fact that, when repeat orders are set up, about 95% of all settings can be done automatically, if the initial job has been established accurately.

The innovative print engine design provides for an extremely short web path inside the press. This aspect has an important role for Marschall as generation of waste is kept at low levels. "We use self-adhesive materials for special applications that may cost €15 or more per square metre", explains Friedel Sellmann. "That’s why we are thankful for every meter that does not end up in the skip."
On the older machines, make-ready waste for a 4-colour job was 600 to 800 metres. However, the new Nilpeter press already prints saleable quality after running only 80 metres.

UV-curing capability is featured at all printing units, while first printing unit also includes a powerful hot air drying unit. The latter is used for thermal labels printed with special aqueous inks that offer high resistance against smearing when subsequently processed in thermal printers.
A special feature of the FA-4* is the possibility for wireless press operation via ACS (Air Control Satellite). This makes it the first Nilpeter model that can be controlled via iPad. This frees the operators from having to stay at the operator terminals without compromising effectiveness. At first glance, ACS might seem like a sales gimmick. However, the press operators see it as very user-friendly, thanks especially to its intuitive menu-control. Overall, the iPad control boosts job satisfaction.

Both installation and commissioning of the press as well as on-site staff training were carried out by the Nilpeter service team. "For a company of our size it is extremely important that in cases of staff shortages – during holidays or due to sickness for instance - there will always be experienced operators available for each machine", states Friedel Sellmann