AstroNova acquires Mtex NS

The Portuguese company Mtex NS, which has developed a number of cost effective inkjet printers, has been acquired by the AstroNova group to form part of its Product Identification portfolio.

The acquisition, which took place on 6th May, was worth €24.3 million, funded with borrowings from an amended version of AstroNova’s existing senior bank debt facilities. In addition, the deal allows for up to a further €4 million payable to the seller over three years based on the achievement of certain revenue growth targets. AstroNova expects the transaction to add an additional $8 million to $10 million in revenue to its results in this fiscal year.

Mtex was founded in 2011 by Eloi Ferreira, specifically as an integrator for textile printing. Ferreira had been involved since the 1990s in selling Xerox devices in Portugal but in 2000 he set up New Solution, first to sell Nur large format printers, and later the Jeti Printers from Gandinnovations. This led to New Solution becoming Gandinnovations’ Iberia operation and helping to develop the Jeti AquaJet. However, when Gandinnovations folded and Agfa picked up the pieces, Ferreira opted to start again in 2010, this time selling equipment from Zimmer Colaris. 

Shortly after this he set up Mtex, which started off with a highly successful range of textile printers, initially using Mimaki engines and targeting soft signage, before developing its own printers and branching out into textile furnishings and apparel segments. At the same time, he had also set up NS, or New Solutions, as a separate entity to concentrate on the the labels and packaging markets, launching its first machines in 2014. A number of its products have been rebadged by other vendors, including the NS Multi, sold by Konica Minolta as the PKG-675i. In 2019 the two companies were merged together as Mtex NS, though the textile machines still carry the Mtex branding while the label and packaging lines are still under the NS name. 

Mtex NS will now operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AstroNova but retaining its own brand name, as well as all of its current staff and management. Elói Ferreira will remain as CEO and the company will exhibit at Drupa in Hall 5, alongside AstroNova.

For its part, AstroNova specialises in data visualization technologies having developed a broad range of products that acquire, store, analyse, and present data in multiple formats. The company was originally set up in 1969 to produce data acquisition recorders. Today it is a large multinational, split across three main business areas: Aerospace products, which includes flight deck printing solutions, networking hardware, and specialized aerospace-grade supplies; Test and Measurement, which mainly covers airborne printing solutions, avionics, and data acquisition; and Product Identification for product marking and identification solutions aimed at manufacturers, commercial printers and brand owners.

Mtex NS will fit into this last category, Product Identification, alongside its existing brands. These include: QuickLabel, a range of tabletop label printers; TrojanLabel, which produces small scale industrial label presses; and GetLabels, which supplies label stocks for inkjet and toner printers as well as thermal transfer ribbons. 

Greg Woods, AstroNova’s president and chief executive officer, commented:  “Mtex NS is a highly innovative manufacturing and technology development company whose multiple lines of industrial grade products significantly expand our Product Identification portfolio. Mtex NS brings multiple complementary market adjacencies while broadening our addressable customer base and geographic reach.”

The acquisition certainly gives AstroNova a much stronger play in the industrial print market, strengthening its position in the label sector and taking it into packaging as well. And it will be interesting to see what Mtex NS can do with more funding behind it.

Woods added: “Recently, Mtex NS introduced a breakthrough printer for direct-to-film (DTF) transfers that enables printing on a wide variety of materials including fabrics, leather, and hard-surface materials. The acquisition also further expands our sustainable packaging capabilities, such as recycled cardboard printing and environmentally friendly, water-based inks.”

He’s referring to the Mtex DtF 64, which has now superseded the original 30cm wide DtF 30 though I’m not sure that I would describe these as breakthrough devices since there are a lot of other DtF machines available. That said, Mtex is a little ahead of other vendors, having integrated the print unit and powder/ shaker to create an automated all-in-one device. The DtF 64 takes 60cm wide media and uses two Epson printheads combined with an Ergosoft RIP. The speed ranges from 14 sqm/hr in 8-pass mode to 27 sqm/hr with four passes.

Woods added, “For more than a decade, Mtex NS has been at the forefront of the digital packaging printing market. The company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing centre is a model of cost efficiency and one of the most advanced factories of its kind in Europe. Mtex NS has built strong relationships with packaging and labeling OEMs covering a broad range of commercial printing and packaging applications. By combining the strengths of our technology and go-to-market teams, we expect to see Mtex NS execute its aggressive growth objectives. We are thrilled to welcome Elói and the entire Mtex NS team to the AstroNova family.”

You can find further details on both companies from mtexns.com and astronovainc.com.


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