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Abbey Labels doubles die-cutting speed with MPS and AB Graphics


Abbey Labels recently installed an automated MPS EFS 340 flexo press, equipped with an integrated AB Graphics Fast Track semi-rotary die cutting system. The innovation, a world first, is part of Abbey Labels’ ambitious operation optimization program.

Abbey Labels, located in Suffolk, UK, supplies labels to the food, beverage, cosmetics, industrial, security and pharmaceutical industries. By partnering with Dutch press manufacturer MPS Systems and finishing company AB Graphics, the three companies together developed this integrated, high-speed die-cutting solution. Tom Allum, Abbey Labels Chairman said: “I firmly believe that this press with this particular option is a real game-changer not only for us, but for the flexo industry.”

Traditionally, die-cutting can become a bottleneck as it slows down the speed of the press depending on the size of the die repeat, but with two anvils in operation on the Fast Track, this is no longer the case. It is also much quicker to change the die as the magnetic cylinder stays in place at all times. With a top speed of 150m/min and a repeat of up to 508mm, the new semi-rotary die-cutting module enables the speed of cutting to be more than doubled compared to conventional single-anvil semi-rotary systems.

Abbey Labels doubles die-cutting speed with MPS and AB Graphics

Abbey Labels is now capable of doing much faster changeovers with the MPS EFS, which comes with many automation features, and the new die-cutting unit can use existing cutters. Instead of investing in new tooling, Abbey Labels can therefore use the same flexible dies across its equipment. The MPS EFS automated multi-substrate press has a maximum print speed of up to 200 m/min, printing on a variety of substrates. “The benefits in time savings should be immense. We’re a short to medium run printer and we’re constantly changing size, so if you’re saving 20 minutes every time you do that, we’re looking at a huge improvement”, said Tom Allum.

Abbey Labels had already fostered a successful partnership with MPS when investing in its two most recent flexo presses, so it was a natural choice to approach the Dutch manufacturer with the idea. Fast forward three years and a new MPS EFS 340 flexo press with a Fast Track Die module has been installed at the company’s facility to bring savings in downtime and thereby costs.

“When Abbey Labels first introduced the idea of us combining the ABG Fast Track Die with our EF platform, we had a few reservations in terms of integration and what it would involve,” added MPS UK’s sales director Nick Tyrer. However, our past collaborations with ABG, integrating the Big Foot flatbed hot foil system had gone very well, so we decided to give the customer exactly what they wanted.”

Tyrer: “The whole project was a very exciting concept. Apart from being a world first, it was also going to be a very challenging technical integration that would offer web transport, tension and register questions that we had not encountered previously. Thankfully the engineering departments of both ABG and MPS were able to overcome these challenges and give Abbey Labels a machine that really challenges the conventional model when converting labels.” Abbey Labels Chairman Tom Allum: “Without MPS Systems and MPS UK working with ABG, we wouldn’t have got to where we are with this exciting new opportunity.”

The new press is part of a major investment and reorganization program undertaken by Abbey Labels, expanding its flexo department and then extending the facility in order to optimize the workflow throughout the whole operation.

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