2024 Inkjet Integrator Profiles: MCS

By Ralf Schlozer / Published:

In this series of inkjet integrator profiles, Inkjet Insight aims to portray companies focussed on offering custom-developed inkjet printing solutions to their customers. The fundamentals have been laid out in the introductory article.

To establish a market overview, we are examining the company basics and the typical types of solutions the companies are offering. Please keep in mind that most companies will happily evaluate solution requirements that are not covered in their core markets and that companies do evolve over time.

MCS, the company

The company was founded in 1991 and started marketing mailing and pre-sorting software. It was the first company to bring GMC (now Quadient) solutions to the US market. In the early 90’s the company was approached by customers on printer hardware and subsequently became the sales partner for Nipson in the US, lasting from 1997 to 2001. This was the start of selling high-end production printers. The customers also showed interest in inkjet hardware. In 2001 MCS Array Imaging System was introduced, using HP heads for graphic arts and mailing imprinting, mostly addressing done on inserters.

Today, the company has about 75 employees and a $50 million turnover. The range of inkjet solutions expanded and is a large part of the business now. About 2000 to 3000 inkjet installations have been made so far, around 100 installations per year on average. Comprehensive inkjet solutions are developed in-house by an engineering team. This includes the design of the controller and workflow software. Core competencies lie in reliable read & print technology and the tracking of mission-critical documents. Apart from printheads and custom solutions, MCS sells its own version of the Kyocera TASKalfa 15000c printer as the MCS Merlin. The company also sells inserter equipment from Bluecrest.

Applications and markets served

With its origins in mailing and transaction software, many MCS products are targeted at mailing, transactional, and related markets. The focus is on monochrome print and niche solutions – where big vendors don’t play and their solutions don’t fit well. A specialty is retrofitting inkjet on existing equipment, from analogue presses to inserters. MCS developed simple solutions with a small footprint, which are well suited for press integration. MCS also supplies standalone custom printing solutions if required, by supplying a web or sheet transport. Customers range from small to large mailing houses and in-plants producing mailings.

MCS Eagle 40 inkjet in a read-and-print application on an inserter

MCS did branch out in the related markets of addressing and adding information on shipping containers. MCS has well-established solutions for printing shipping labels – also at very high productivity levels of up to 1000 fpm. An entry into packaging print has been made with a bag printing line for adding track & trace information.

A recent development is a dynamic box printer with process colour capability. MCS designed that solution not only for printing shipping information but also to add process colour marketing content. The printer can automatically adapt to the size of the boxes. Matching personalised content is printed just-in-time when the box reaches the station. The content is printed directly on the box to make the use of labels obsolete.

MCS Box Personalization Solution with variable height imaging

MCS-supplied solutions range from narrow inkjet head assemblies to integrated inserter and inkjet imprinting lines. Accordingly, prices for products range from $18k to $1 million – depending on size and complexity.

Technologies and devices

MCS uses several types of inkjet heads from HP, Kyocera, and Fujifilm, which include piezo and thermal inkjet heads. Offered are aqueous and UV inks, depending on the applications. The heads are used in a range of modular, preassembled printing units. Their speeds stretch from 250 fpm to 1000 fpm (305 m/min). A variety of print widths is supported from small, addressing solutions to page-wide heads with an 8.5” or 17” print swath, which can be stitched as well for even wider widths.

Most products print in monochrome. MCS offers a process colour solution as well but this is a very competitive market with large players and less custom integration and value to be added.

MCS Eagle printheads mounted on web application

The hardware is complemented by a comprehensive software and RIP package named Raptor, that drives all inkjet solutions. In mailing applications, having software and workflow solutions for high-speed variable data print is critical, as is verification and tracking. Accordingly, MCS developed its own solution. The Raptor controller can drive up to four inkjet technologies in any combination. Raptor supports a PDF workflow in mailing. By emulating inkjet web presses, the output data can be handled as for a web press. To ensure integrity, it is also seamlessly working with composition software.

Inks and substrates

Customers can deploy different inks for different applications, including polymer, pigment, or dye inks, in aqueous or UV inkjet. Inks are supplied by the MCS subsidy Think Ink inc., one of the largest OEM ink partners of both HP and Kao Collins. Think Ink mainly sells into the mailing industry and has specifically formulated inks for mail applications. The company also offers an ink matching service for corporate colours. In addition, MCS developed a MICR solution for the MCS Merlin K146M and offers MICR for other inkjet solutions as well. More than 100 different inks are in stock. Unlike other inkjet providers, MCS encourages customers to swap out inks when applications change, which can be performed in 30 mins with piezo heads.

MCS products print on paper-based substrates mostly, which includes print on coated stock, as required in some mailing environments. In addition, print on films with UV inks is offered as well.

Sales, service, and geographic coverage

MCS has direct sales in North America with about 5 direct sales staff and 25 technicians. MCS has a very established presence in the US, where the majority of all devices are installed. MCS also works with partners in Europe and Asia, like Profi-tec in Germany, ProMail in UK & Ireland. Other partners are located in Korea and Japan. These partners have their own sales & service network and, in addition, they add value through some customisation to local market requirements.

What is setting MCS apart?

With all engineering and software development in-house, MCS offers a one-stop source with a portfolio of solutions. Heads and transports can be adapted according to customer requirements. The Raptor software platform supports all applications and head types and makes the integration into existing data infrastructure easy.

Reliable read & print technology is a core competency as well – a pre-requisite for mission-critical documents and many variable data applications. MCS can supply the hardware, software, and know-how for matching variable data print to the correct mailing piece.


MCS is based in Gaithersburg, MD in the U.S.
Website  https://mcspro.com/
MCS is exhibiting at drupa 2024 and is sharing a booth with its EU inkjet distributor partner Profi-tec in hall 6.

This series on inkjet integrators will continue.

About the Author

Ralf Schlozer

Ralf Schlozer is Independent Print Analyst. Ralf provides analysis, sizing and forecasting the market for digital printing technologies and associated applications and business processes. Connect with Ralf on LinkedIn

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