Garment and textile screen printers who focus on high-volume production have turned to automatic carousel presses almost exclusively for the past two decades. These machines offer the speed and repeatability to complete jobs quickly and accurately, no matter how large the print run. However, some shops that are in growth mode or are poised to expand their businesses may not have the floor space to accommodate a carousel’s footprint.
The oval press is an alternative to the carousel design that is configured to make more efficient use of a printer’s available production area. Their typically long, narrow footprint may also be better suited to areas interrupted by columns or other physical obstructions.
M&R engineered its new Alpha 8, available in standard, intermediate, and jumbo-size configurations, to provide garment screen printers with what the company describes as a versatile, compact, and expandable automatic press that can be configured for almost any production requirement.
The eight-station Base/Drive Module supports up to six printheads, and M&R’s Plug & Print modular design provides for expansion, in six-station increments, up to 62 stations on Alpha 8 5070 and 6080 models and up to 32 stations on the Alpha 8 80110 model. Maximum image area is 20 x 28 in. (50 x 70 cm) on the Alpha 8 5070, 24 x 33 in. (610 x 838 mm) on the Alpha 8 6080, and 31.5 x 43.5 in. (80 x 110 cm) on the Alpha 8 80110.
Alpha 8 features a digital touchscreen control panel with icon-based labeling that displays information and commands in different languages. It incorporates a multiple-indexing capability, which allows a variety of load/unload scenarios and allows users to start with as many printheads as they need and to add more as their needs change and, with the exception of end stations, it poses no restrictions on printhead placement. All other stations can support printheads, and any station can be left open. Alpha 8 also allows users to change the placement of load/unload stations and to run multiple jobs simultaneously.
M&R says the Alpha 8 5070 and 6080 leave the front of the platen and the platen-arm assembly free of obstruction, facilitating easy loading and positioning and allowing them to handle almost any type of item, including hooded sweatshirts, pants legs, cut pieces, T-shirts, and most other types of textiles. Alpha 8 is also compatible with M&R’s All-Over-Print (AOP) platens.
Alpha 8 80110 features a dual-drive servo system, with servo drives at each end of the press (also found on Alpha 8 5070 and 6080 models with 38 or more stations). Double-index mode on alternating printheads can produce images up to 39 x 28 in. (991 x 711 mm) on the 5070; 39 x 33 in. (991 x 838 mm) on the 6080; and 59 x 43.5 in. (1499 x 1105 mm) on the 80110. Due to their larger print areas, Alpha 8 6080 and 80110 models include a wider print carriage. According to M&R, the Alpha 8 80110 includes larger, stronger platen arms; wider platen-leveling brackets; front and rear registration locks; and a printhead lockdown/platen-arm-support feature for greater stability and enhanced print quality. M&R says the Alpha 8 80110 excels on cut-piece goods and all-over prints, but it easily converts for standard-size T-shirt printing.
All Alpha 8 models incorporate a servo-drive indexing system that rotates in either direction and is designed for operating at an extremely high speed with smooth operation and precise control. The machines also feature jog-left/jog-right controls and an independent print-start/print-finish setting that automatically activates and stops printheads at the beginning and end of production runs. It also provides a production-speed monitor to help ensure more accurate job costing, a test-print setting that turns individual printheads on and off during the test-print cycle, and a pedestal-mounted control panel that can be placed wherever it’s needed. Additionally, M&R’s patented Optical No-Shirt Detector automatically prevents the press from printing on empty platens.
Alpha 8’s printheads are driven by variable-frequency AC drive motors and offer what M&R describes as simple print-stroke adjustments to promote very high production rates. These printheads also incorporate independent, tool-free off-contact adjustment at all four corners of the screen frame. Alpha 8 also features front microregistration adjustments with visual guides, pneumatic screen clamps, and a high-lift mode that’s designed to simplify access to the underside of the screen and allow fast, tool-free placement of flash-cure units at any station. For more information, contact M&R, 1 N. 372 Main St., Glen Ellyn, IL, 60137-3576, 800-736-6431 or 630-858-6101, Web: www.mrprint.com.
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