AB Graphics International, or ABG for short, is a rare example of surviving and thriving British engineering manufacturing. As so much ‘heavy metal’ manufacturing has moved offshore or just disappeared from the UK industrial base, ABG is a shining example of how to adapt a sixty-year-old company into one that has the right products for today’s short-run narrow web label finishing and that means the obvious ‘D’ word – digital.
Although ABG has been making conventional converting equipment, turret rewinders, inspection systems, slitters and sheeters for over six decades, the Digicon series was introduced only in the first decade of the 2000s as the ‘Omega’ and rapidly became the converting line of choice for the HP Indigo digital label presses, both inline and near-line.
Represented in Australia and New Zealand by Currie Group, the ABG Digicon is now in its 3rd series and offers more options than ever to operators of digitally printed web devices. There are now well over 1,000 Digicons installed worldwide.
As label printing continues to morph into a predominantly short-run, fast turn-around business; customer expectations of elaborately embellished labels where appropriate have not diminished. They want ‘old’ quality and finishing choices from ‘new’ digital and this is where ABG’s Digicon has all but cornered the market, at least in the popular 200-350mm web widths.
|AB Graphics International Digicon Series 3|
There is no ‘off-the-shelf’ Digicon: as a modular system you build-in what is required and add to it as you go. Digicon Series 3 offers a choice of:
- Hot Foil
- Cold Foil
- Spot and Flood coating
- Flatbed Screen module with UV curing
- Flexo module with quick-change sleeve
- Full or semi-rotary die-cutting
- Laser die-cutting
- Automated back-scoring
- Matrix stripping and rewinding
- Web crossover module for multi-part or ‘peel & reveal’ labels
- Maximum 150 metres/min in full rotary mode, 64 metres/min semi-rotary
All of this is housed in a ‘no short cuts’ engineered converting line that is perfect for today’s digital label presses.
Attention has also been afforded to workflow and linking to prepress. A JDF/JMF management information system can supply job information directly to the machine from prepress, and relay job information directly back into the customer’s MIS for accurate real-time job costing.
ABG has also partnered with the industry’s recognised leaders in tooling for precision die-cutting by offering Kocher + Beck’s GapMaster and Rotometrics’ Anvil adjust as options. Interestingly, the Hotfoil/Embossing unit known as ‘Bigfoot’ has a 50-tonne pressure capability, making dynamic embosses achievable on all substrates. Foiling can be either across or along the web.
The Digicon series now also includes a ‘Lite’ version running at 64 metres/min and offering basic day-to-day convering needs such as Cold foiling, coating, rewinding and matrix stripping. It is build to the same ‘no short cuts’ engineering standards as the Series 3, but the Lite 3 is an entry-level option at a lower capital cost.
To meet the demands of wider-web digital label production, particularly HP Indigo’s 20000 series, ABG has also recently introduced the Digicon 3000, which can run up to a 762mm web width at up to 100 metres/min or 65 metres/min semi-rotary.
If a finishing line is down, it matters little how fast you can print digital labels roll-to-roll: they will sit there until it’s fixed. ABG has invested heavily in parts and service supply and with the largest installed base of its type, it is able to provide fast response and proficient service, either direct where it operates its own branches, or through distribution partners such as Currie Group.
If entering short-run digital label production, or upgrading – it’s hard not to at least look at ABG’s Digicon solutions since they tick all the boxes for what is required to make digital label production mainstream – which is where it appears to be headed, at least in the ANZ market.
AB Graphics International