Meteor moves Agfa into digital

Agfa Graphics says it is entering ‘a new era’ with its foray into digital print, showing off MGI’s Meteor DP8700 XL four-colour multi-substrate printer at a two-day open house event in Melbourne.

Agfa hopes to make the machine a success in the Australian market in this latest local launch (it has previously been carried by Ferrostaal and GBC).

Agfa Oceania digital printing business manager Harry Kontogiannis says the Meteor hits a sweet spot in the middle segment of the market.

“There are a bunch of flexible options with the Meteor, for instance, printing on envelopes and unusual formats, like a gatefold up to a metre long,” he says.

“There aren’t too many digital presses that can do that. We think it is a really flexible device, at an attractive price point.”

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The company says the response has been bigger than expected, with more than 80 printers attending its open house so far to see the Meteor rip through print jobs on a variety of substrates from offset paper to envelopes, synthetic stocks and rigid plastics up to 1020mm long.

Agfa Oceania managing director Mark Brindley says the machine has the potential to open new revenue streams for printers with products like oversize print, packaging, labels and plastic cards, and higher margins to boot.

“With the average profit on print running at around five per cent, it is no wonder the Meteor’s ability to produce general commercial work with a profit margin of 20, 30, 50 or even 70 per cent is creating interest around the world,” he says.

“These are challenging times in print, but the Meteor press range, and the wider range of innovative products from MGI, offer exciting solutions and options for businesses.”

The machine will come with Agfa’s back up service and support, and can be bought outright without being locked in to a click charge model.

MGI international sales director Raymond Pena Jnr was on hand for the open house demonstrations.

He highlights the machine’s purchase price, ability to print to standard offset papers and flexibility to expand into more lucrative markets as a few of its key differentiators – with the move away from the click charge perhaps the most critical.

“While click charge contracts may allow manufacturers to set a lower initial purchase price, which looks attractive, they lock press owners in to significantly higher ongoing costs, particularly when machine upgrades and trailing residual contract commitments are factored in,” he says.

“Under a click charge contract, every image is costing you money, and you are committed to paying for agreed production levels, even if your volumes slip or vary from month to month.”

The Meteor range also promises an average downtime of less than 10 per cent, which Kontogiannis says will make a difference to profit potential over the machine’s lifetime.

“A press is only making you money when it’s running – every time production stops and you have to wait for service, that machine is costing you money,” he says.

“The combination of a well-engineered, robustly constructed press with the back-up of a reliable service network makes good business sense.”

European Agfa entities are already supplying MGI technology in Switzerland, Sweden and Italy.

Brindley says the positive feedback coming from overseas made the decision to take on the MGi dealership in Australia a no-brainer.

He says Agfa will continue to bring out more MGI devices in the future, as demand arises, and the company is open to also supplying other third party products where it sees a niche in the market and complementary fit with its portfolio of prepress, consumables and wide format equipment.

Kontogiannis says one device that is already generating interest in Australia is MGI’s Jetstream 3D finisher, which can add a UV spot varnish, digitally.

“The Jetvarnish will appeal to someone who has already made a digital purchase but is looking to add further finishing capabilities to give their print a bit of a lift,” he says.

“This device also comes at an interesting price point, and there aren’t too many players in this particular area.”

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