As Monti Antonio celebrates its 60th anniversary, Images talks to Alessandro Silva about its new entry-level hot-melt lamination machine and its reputation for custom-made solutions
It’s fitting that in the year Monti Antonio turns 60, the number of different machines it now offers also totals 60, in 120 versions. The Italian calender and heat press manufacturer began life in 1959 when Antonio Monti set up a business manufacturing steam boilers and machines for pressing knitwear. By the 1970s, the company had expanded into the sublimation print industry, and by 1991 it had significantly increased its global sales network as it continued to grow in the print and finishing sectors. In 1999, there was another leap forward as it developed a hot-melt bonding line.
Today, Monti Antonio employs more than 100 people across three production sites and has installed 15,000 machines in 75 countries. The difference between Monti Antonio and its competitors is the range of products the company offers, reports sales director Alessandro Silva. “There is nobody worldwide with such a wide range of machines.” Not only do customers have a choice of 60 different machines, but bespoke machines are also an option. “We specialise in custom-made solutions, which means any client can arrive at Monti and if they don’t find one that perfectly suits their business, they can opt for a custom-made solution,” explains Alex. “Through the years we’ve developed a very wide range of customised lines and machines for special applications. Simple machines might be ready in a very short time, while extremely long lines will take longer. For example, we supplied two lines in Sri Lanka and one in Serbia for a very big name in underwear, and each line is about 40m long. We are always very prepared to follow the customer’s suggestions and requirements.”
A need for added value
The main areas the company services with its heat presses and calenders include sublimation, lamination, (which includes the addition of foils and other effects to the surface of a textile or garment), and bonding. Monti Antonio supplies many machines that can apply breathable, waterproof membrane to garments, from sportswear to fashion. Other decorations – or laminations – that can be applied included barriers, protective finishes and breathable membranes. There are, reports Alessandro, many different effects that can be used to create special garments as well as technical textiles. “The key point is that – especially in let’s call them ‘rich countries’, so Europe and North America – there is an enormous need to create added value in order to compete with the Far East. The added value is decoration, and it’s also added value to be able to do lamination and bonding on the same equipment.” This year at Itma, the company launched its latest model, a hot-melt lamination machine. The 920’s stand- out feature is that it is a compact machine, opening up the market to smaller companies.
“Traditionally, the hot-melt machines were extremely big and expensive equipment, while this is an entry-level unit, so we’ve created the possibility for any client to enter this added-value world,” explains Alessandro. As hot-melt lamination can be used across a variety of textiles, from technical substrates to garments, it can be offered to end users from a wide variety of markets, from footwear to garments via soft furnishings. “It has a very wide application,” he confirms. The company’s aim for the next few years is to continue investing in and looking for more applications in the lamination market.
According to Alessandro, some of the machines that are its bestsellers are a group of sublimation calenders that the team calls ‘hybrid machines’. “These are equipped with a front table, allowing the use of both rolls and cut pieces. This is extremely interesting today because there are special garments that need to be printed roll-to-roll, and others that really require pieces, like sportswear, for example.” It’s an area the company knows well, having manufactured sublimation calenders and presses since 1996. “We were the ones that invented this type of equipment,” he says, adding that the company has always been well-placed to manufacture innovative equipment: its base in Thiene, northern Italy, is known for its manufacturing expertise.
“Everything is manufactured and designed here. All around Monti, we have between 30 and 35 different suppliers of parts and components. This is one of the main characteristics of the territory where we live – there are lots of high-level sub-contractors.” While local sourcing of high-end parts and an in-house design and manufacture process helped the company establish its position globally as a manufacturer, it was the worldwide boom in demand for sublimation printing in the fashion industry in 2014 that could have brought the company down, but instead cemented Monti Antonio’s reputation in the industry.
“There was an enormous demand for machines,” recollects Alessandro. “What Monti Antonio did was invest an enormous quantity of money in its structure: we added a fifth building to the existing production facilities, we built an automatic warehouse system and we increased the potential for production.” In just 18 months the company had nearly doubled its turnover. “We replied to the market very quickly,” he states. “This is yet another reason why so many consider us to be the market leader.”
Tell us a bit about your business
KGK/Genix is one of the UK’s most reputable multi-disciplinary agencies providing creative, large format print and project management solutions. The business has a strong history dating back over 30 years, employing 85 staff over four sites. It designs and produces large format graphics and display solutions to some of the world’s biggest brands. Whilst its history is rooted within the large format print sector, it has evolved and developed into an innovative company embracing new production methods and technologies. The company purchased new premises in Harlow in 2018 in order to house the dye sublimation part of our business, which was showing consistent growth.
What Monti Antonio model do you have, and when did you buy it?
The Monti Antonio 91-3600 calender, which was delivered in May 2018.
Did you buy it to replace another machine or for some other reason?
We had an MTex 5032Pro, which we outgrew very quickly, however it was the perfect machine to get us into the fabric market.
How much did the Monti Antonio 91-3600 cost?
What other systems did you look at before purchasing this one?
The only other calender units we considered were the Klieverick and Diferro. However, in our view, Monti Antonio is the world leader in sublimation presses.
Why did you choose the Monti?
I first saw the Monti Antonio in action during an EFI Reggiani VIP visit to assess the FabriVu 340 digital fabric printer. Following that visit we decided that we would purchase a FabriVu 340. I then made an appointment with I-Sub to see Monti Antonio’s facilities over in Italy. For me, what really sold Monti Antonio was the build quality of their machines, so we ended up purchasing one there and then.
What’s it like to use?
The machine was overwhelming at first, like anything new, but once we got stuck into it the machine was really easy to use and the end result is always the same.
What’s your advice to others thinking of buying a Monti Antonio machine?
Don’t look back, only look forward.