Mouvent Scaling up in Inkjet

By Ralf Schlozer / Published:

Who is Mouvent?

Without major trade shows there can be a lack of opportunities for smaller vendors to get noticed or promote their products. For most, Mouvent is likely to be a lesser known name in inkjet printer manufacturing although the company was founded three years ago. Mouvent is a bit different than other companies. Mouvent is both the digital printing competence center of Bobst, and also a joint venture. Bobst has the leading share, holding 50.1% of Mouvent with the remainder held by former Radex employees – a company that specialized in inkjet head assemblies. Previously, a corrugated press jointly developed by Bobst with Kodak did not meet expectations. The venture with Mouvent allowed Bobst to gain fast access to inkjet IP and to use Mouvent inkjet technology in future Bobst digital presses. On the other side, Mouvent has some leeway in serving the markets they see as the best fit for their technology, even if it is not in the main line of business of Bobst. Ideally the inkjet knowledge of Mouvent and the application know-how, service and sales strengths of Bobst will create nice synergy.

For a young company, Mouvent has a remarkably strong heritage in digital printing. Radex was founded as a start-up company in 2013 by former Graph-Tech employees following the sale of Graph-Tech to Domino. Graph-Tech was, and is, a leading supplier of inkjet assemblies and imaging engines, including work for Domino, Pitney Bowes (BlueCrest) and Landa. Head assemblies are a crucial part of making a bare inkjet head operate with all drivers, interfaces, fluid connectors and mechanical mounting.

Mouvent is a relatively small company with about 100 employees spread over five sites in Switzerland. This is the effect of diverse competence centers combined within Mouvent. Apart from R&D, Mouvent produces inkjet head assemblies, manufactures printing presses and produces inkjet ink. In the course of establishing Mouvent, the original Radex head development team has been augmented by personnel from Ilford’s inkjet ink development and Bobst’s digital print development. Additional sales and support can and will be drawn from Bobst.

The Cluster Technology

At the core of Mouvent products are the so called “Mouvent clusters”, essentially a full inkjet head assembly with all support components. According to Mouvent, each cluster has four layers consisting of a print head, mechanical, ink supply and electronics layer.

Mouvent Cluster Schematics

As print heads, four Dimatix Samba heads are being used, resulting in a print width of 170 mm (6.7”) per cluster. The advantage of this approach is that imaging engines are easily scalable, as each cluster has its own electronics and ink supply. There is no need to redesign ink pumps and electronics according to the final printer width. Hence a print swath can be one cluster wide or up to 3290mm (130”) wide, using the corresponding number of clusters. The clusters can be used for page wide or scanning print modes. Each cluster supports one color and accordingly multiple clusters are needed for full color printing.

Clusters inside a Mouvent printer

Mouvent products

Today Mouvent has two product lines. The bigger focus is probably on the label printers. There are two models in the label printer range so far: the LB701 and LB702. The main distinguishing factor is the print width. The 701 has a print width of 170 mm and uses one cluster across the web width, while the 702 has two for a 340 mm print width.

The LB701-UV is the entry level model. With an advertised price of €280k for the 4 color model the company offers quite some speed and high resolution imaging. Each additional color will set you back another €20k. With a length of about 2.5 meter (8.2 ft) the printer is very compact. Yet the printer reaches a speed of 100 m/min (328 ft/min), faster than the EP printers and most inkjet models.

The LB-702 is for markedly higher volumes with double the width of the 701. With one operator Mouvent recons the printer can produce 200,000 sqm in a month. The press was fully released beginning 2020 with 9 installations up to now and several more in the short-term plan.

The latest extension to the range will a waterbased ink version of the 702. These inks are developed and manufactured by Mouvent. At the moment Mouvent is fine-tuning the device and the drying system and will start with a 80 m/min speed, but soon move to 100 m/min. The necessary Infrared (IR) drier increases the length of the device considerably. Print samples sent by Mouvent look very good, with fine detail and smooth gradients. Apart from being environmentally friendly and food-safe the inks produce a matte look as well, if that should be desired. Again, the COVID crisis brought some delays, but LB702-WB will be launched in the coming months.

Labels Printed with Waterbased Ink

All Mouvent presses use the cluster technology, giving them 1,200 x 1,200 dpi resolution with 3 grey levels. Standard configurations have 4 colors, but can be upgraded to 7 colors. White ink has been fully released for both models as well.

Mouvent Label Printer Overview

LB701-UV

LB702-UV

LB702-WB

Web width

190 mm / 7.5”

360 mm / 14.2”

360 mm / 14.2”

Imaging width

170 mm / 6.7”

340 mm / 13.4”

340 mm / 13.4”

Roll diameter

600 mm

1000 mm

1000 mm

Print speed

100 m/min
328 ft/min

100 m/min
328 ft/min

80 m/min (100 m/min soon)

Inks

UV

UV

Aqueous

Max number of colors

7

7

7

Lengh of printer

2.5 m / 8.2 ft

4.5 m / 14.7 ft

10.8 m / 35.4 ft

The other range of models covers the textile print market. Two models are available, again based on the cluster technology. The main difference of the TX801 and TX802 is the printing speed, which is 200 sqm per hour for the former and 400 sqm per hour for the latter. Again, doubling the output is achieved by doubling the number the number of clusters. Both are scanning head devices set for a 1.8 meter (70.9”) print width. Both devices have up for 8 colors and different colorant systems are available. The resolution of 1,200 dpi is set by the clusters.

Future Developments

With the great flexibility and scalability of the Mouvent clusters it is no surprise that Mouvent is aiming for a much wider range of products. The first targets are likely to be in packaging print, like: folding carton, flexible packaging and corrugated. Mouvent feels that there are high requirements to serve the customers well in these markets, which held up digital print adoption so far.

Mouvent is in talks with prospects to hone specifications and capabilities of possible devices. The company is looking at the whole production flow as well, where the inkjet press is only one component. Rightfully the company aims for having the press fully automated which includes the post-press components. On the downside this is requiring quite some time.

Jean Pascal Bobst in this year’s Bobst press conference hinted a corrugated press to be previewed in September or October this year. Mouvent is a bit more cautious targeting packaging printer announcements for 2021. It is interesting to note that the Model Group based in Switzerland is still using the inkjet corrugated press Bobst developed with Kodak Stream technology. This is a clear indicator that there is demand for digital post-print in corrugated.

Like majority shareholder Bobst, Mouvent is less enthusiastic on trade shows. Accordingly, Mouvent is scaling up their demo centres. A location in Barcelona is currently being set up. In fall a US center is Atlanta is to follow where printers will be shown alongside Bobst equipment. Other Bobst demo centres will follow. The demo centers will be the only possibilities to see the products live as Mouvent as no trade shows are planned currently.

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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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