By DPS Staff
Label and packaging products are the next hot application for digital. In terms of print engines, automated finishing equipment, embellishment solutions, and software tools, the recent drupa trade fair featured abundant announcements and product debuts relevant to the digital creation of label and packaging products.
According to recent research from Smithers Pira, The Future of Digital Print for Packaging 2016, the digital packaging print sector is experiencing rapid growth. The firm estimates that the use of digital print for packaging is valued at $10.5 billion in 2015 and the world market will grow by an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6 percent in constant value terms to 2020, with a print volume CAGR of 16.2 percent globally. While Smithers Pira points out that labels account for 85.5 percent of this value and 93.5 percent of the printed volume in 2015, this is changing as new applications are introduced and growing, including cartons, corrugated, flexible, rigid plastics, and metal decorating.
The expected continued growth of the digital packaging segment is supported by numerous vendors, including print engine manufacturers, finishing manufacturers, and software and workflow vendors. At drupa, the latest technologies targeting these segments were unveiled and showcased. Here, we provide a snapshot of announcements from popular sub categories of packaging—labels, folding carton, and corrugated. We also touch on software and workflow solutions targeting digital package production.
Some of the hottest digital label production announcements at drupa focused on combination printing, which targets the production of high-end, short-run labels that are printed digitally but feature embellishment features, including effects like foil and varnish.
HP previewed its HP Indigo Digital Combination Press concept, which incorporates HP Indigo print and digital embellishments in one press for a fully digital, single-pass solution targeting high-value label and packaging production needs.
Showcased as a technology demonstration as part of a dedicated line with an HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press, the combination concept—developed in alliance with JetFX—enables the streamlined production of digital spot and tactile varnishes, digital foils, and embellishments of unlimited designs with HP SmartStream Mosaic.
Targeting the high-end label and packaging segment, Xeikon demonstrated its Fusion Technology, which is a combination platform that allows users to digitally produce embellishments by combining different digital print technologies.
The company says that its Fusion Technology is comprised of a series of embellishment modules that will be released over time as components of an entirely new modular system with the digital front-end taking care of prepress, data processing, color management, and press operation as well as full control and operation of all embellishment modules without any manual intervention. Potential modules include hot/cold foiling; screen prints; matte, gloss, and structured flood and spot varnish; and digital Braille.
In other embellishment label news, MGI Digital Technology announced an addition to its JETvarnish 3D digital enhancements product portfolio, the JETvarnish 3DW. The JETvarnish 3DW and iFOIL W system is an integrated, roll-to-roll print embellishment solution suited to the label and tag marketplace. It provides customized foil on demand and variable data foiling options.
The JETvarnish 3DW and iFOIL W system adds impact with colorful special effects. The system produces 2D spot UV coating, 3D embossed varnish textures, and embossed foil effects all in one pass. The full JETvarnish 3DW iFOIL solution also includes flexographic priming station options for substrate surface management. MGI integrated this unique pre-treatment process inline to optimize the rendered input for digital enhancement effects.
The MGI JETvarnish 3D W also features a new, artificial intelligence-based sheet registration system, which the company has termed the SmartScanner.
Many recently introduced digital printing solutions are specifically designed for the production of folding carton applications. As vendors continue to invest in this segment we can be assured that growth and adoption by traditional and digital print providers and converters will continue.
HP Inc. announced strong worldwide customer adoption of its next-generation HP Indigo 30000 Digital Presses, demonstrating its position in digitally printed folding cartons and removing traditional packaging production limitations.
The HP Indigo 30000 Digital Press is a 29-inch format sheet-fed solution empowering folding carton converters to capture high-margin opportunities and move to more efficient production. Enabled by the company’s HP Indigo liquid ElectroInk technology, HP Indigo offers users up to seven ink stations on press and the widest digital color gamut to fulfill strict brand color requirements with up to 97 percent of PANTONE colors.
MGI released its Meteor DP1000 digital press, the sixth generation of MGI Meteor digital presses. It complements the existing DP8700 XL+ and DP8700 S+ solutions, enabling the company to offer a full range of production presses with high speed, plastic, synthetic, and paper substrate and application diversity.
The DP1000 supports formats up to 13×47 inches. This longer format allows users to produce five panel, panoramic gatefold documents such as brochures, signs, and banners on stocks that range in weights from 80 to 450 gsm. According to MGI, these specifications make the solution ideal for printing brilliant colors on board stock for small- to medium-sized folding carton and box designs. It is well suited for package printers looking for a high-speed solution with variable data options, and commercial printers looking to enter packaging.
Another digital folding carton development comes from a new partnership between Xerox and KBA Sheetfed Solutions, a business unit of the Koenig & Bauer Group (KBA). The two companies are developing an industrial digital sheetfed press for the folding carton market, which will produce wide format cartons for items like cosmetics, food, and pharmaceuticals.
The solution, the KBA VariJET 106 Powered by Xerox, integrates Xerox Impika inkjet technology into the KBA Rapida 106 press platform. Xerox says the press is in the final stages of development and will print 4,500 B1 29.5×41.7-inch sheets per hour (sph). Featuring a modular concept, it enables the combination of digital inkjet printing with optional inline capabilities such as coating, cold foil application, rotatory die cutting, creasing, and perforating.
For finishing, Baumer hhs introduced the latest version of the Xtend controller series. The new controllers are designed to cover the latest industrial requirements, which involves the ability to produce a variety of products and small runs.
In its third generation, the Highcon Euclid Series was showcased at drupa. It is a digital cutting and creasing solution for the packaging market.
The Highcon Beam digital cutting and creasing solution offers speeds of up to 5,000 sph and is developed for the folding carton market. The solution replaces conventional die-making and setup with a digital technology.
Finally, the company provides the new Highcon Pulse digital cutting and creasing solution into B2/29-inch sheet size workflows. Highcon’s digital cutting and creasing technology enables an in-house controlled digital system that delivers improved responsiveness, design flexibility, and entry into a range of applications in numerous markets.
According to the company, for converters and print service providers with digital print equipment, the Pulse enables an end-to-end digital workflow, removing the bottleneck at the post-print stage. For those with conventional printing equipment, digital finishing offers a way to grow business by extending the services they offer with a differentiated product offering.
KAMA presented innovative solutions designed to deal with trends such as short runs and digital package printing. The company premiered a complete solution for short runs of folding boxes.
The solution includes the DC 76 ASB automatic die cutter with the newest in servo technology, and the newly developed KAMA FF 52i, which is a folder/gluer dedicated to short runs. The combined solution is optimized for fast job and format changes and electronic job tickets, and fits into the digital workflow, carrying out all of the applications from the printed sheet to the ready-to-deliver folding box. With short set-up times, faster finishing, inline stripping without tools, and automated set-up, the company says the solution paves the way for making short-run converting of folding boxes both efficient and profitable.
KAMA says another highlight for the commercial market is the “Generation S” of the ProCut line of automatic die cutters, with servo technology and an asynchronous main drive that delivers more power and flexibility for the professional finisher.
Kluge launches the newest generation of its folding and gluing system, the OmniFold 3000. The new, modular system features synchronized touchscreen controls, interchangeable feeding units, a modular alignment system, a modular pre-break device, interchangeable bearing bed transports, and interchangeable vacuum transports.
In addition, Kluge, in partnership with LasX, premiered CartonsInMinutes at drupa. The on demand laser processing and converting solution allows for the laser cutting, scoring, blanking, and converting of multiple folding carton designs.
MBO offers finishing systems from Herzog+Heymann, including the flexible Stamina line, a folding carton system with an integrated rotary die cutter. With these two processes combined, print providers are able to produce ‘nickless’ folding cartons in one pass, eliminating the need for additional production steps, such as refining. According to the company, the combination is also able to eliminate transfers and staging between the die cutting and folder-gluer processors because it takes place inline, allowing for a streamlined folding-carton process.
The Stamina line also features an integrated camera system that can match pre-printed inserts to the folding carton job, greatly improving job integrity as it practically eliminates the possibility of accidental job mixing.
Masterwork USA offers the Promatrix 106 CSB die cutter with blanking, ideal for short to medium production volumes and performs die cutting and embossing at a speed of 8,000 sph. The machine offers a range of standard features, user-friendly operation, and an attractive price-performance ratio. The Promatrix 106 CS handles substrates from 65-lb. text to 48-pt. board. It outputs 8,000 sph, and has a maximum sheet size of 29.92×41.7 inches.
The Masterwork Easymatrix 106 CS die cutting machine with stripping is rated at 7,700 sph and is designed to deliver precision in folding carton production. It offers short set-up times, productivity, and cost effectiveness.
TRESU offers its new iJET inkjet coater, which is designed to enhance the flexibility of the digital folding carton printing workflow with the ability to variably apply UV spot varnishes inline. The TRESU iJet is designed to integrate seamlessly with the HP Indigo 30000, HP Indigo 12000, and HP Indigo 10000 digital presses. It processes the same software as each of the presses and, where necessary, the accompanying analog coater. As a result files are ripped in minutes.
TRESU iJet can be customized to accommodate any number of printheads, between one and 11, along the bar. The printheads can be repositioned in the cross direction, to apply coating anywhere on the package.
Matching the productivity of the printing press, TRESU iJet achieves speeds of 4,600 sph, and uses specially formulated UV varnishes that offer high gloss and scratch resistance.
Debuting at drupa 2016, the Scodix E106 is a digital press delivering enhancement solutions for printers in the packaging sector. With new and innovative capabilities, Scodix E106 provides viable, profit-generating opportunities for the folding carton market. Uniquely designed in B1 format for ultra-fast production of up to 4,000 sph, the company says the press supports short to medium run lengths not yet achieved in the printing industry. Exclusive to Scodix, this combination of features and functionality provides many benefits for folding carton printers and converters to differentiate their offering and boost profit margins.
The corrugated packaging segment is also seeing some attention from digital printing and finishing equipment providers.
Durst unveiled a new corrugated packaging and display printer and showcased single-pass and multi-pass printing systems for corrugated cardboard manufacturers and converters. The new Rho 130 SPC, with a print speed of up to 9,350 square meters per hour, offers the industrial productivity needed to transform the packaging sector towards digital technology.
Alongside the more cost-efficient production of shelving and sales packaging in small- and medium-sized job runs, the Rho 130 SPC also supports sampling, customizations, and versioning—directly and without setup costs.
EFI’s new Nozomi one-pass inkjet platform, the EFI Nozomi C18000—is a 1.8 meter-wide, single-pass, ultra-high-speed LED inkjet corrugated packaging press using technology that can change on demand printing in corrugated, paper packaging, and display printing.
Leveraging its HP Thermal Inkjet single-pass HP PageWide Printing Technology, the new HP PageWide C500 Press introduces a versatile, offset-quality cost-effective solution for corrugated direct-to-board printing.
The press is designed to integrate into a standard production environment, from large integrated packaging converters with centralized or distributed printing, to small, independent sheet plants, enabling customers to affordably adopt digital technology for mainstream production and reinvent a segment ripe with opportunity.
Helping customers expand media versatility and enhance production flexibility, HP Corrugated Grip Technology allows customers to handle a range of media from the lightest micro-flute to the heaviest double-wall board. Additionally, new water-based HP inks are designed for printing on the non-food contact surface of paperboard packaging and comply with global food safety regulations and industry guidelines necessary to produce food-compliant packaging, thus allowing customers to capture more opportunities with leading food and packaging brands.
Efficiency is essential to the digital production of label and packaging applications. In order to remain profitable on complex, short-run jobs, production and workflow software promotes a touchless, end-to-end workflow that improves productivity and reduces waste.
In addition to printing and finishing equipment targeting the various packaging segments, software and workflow tools aim to add productivity to digital and hybrid package print environments.
EFI and Esko collaborate to bring a combined packaging workflow solution to market. The plan is for the solution to connect EFI Fiery digital front ends, Esko workflows, and EFI enterprise resource planning/management information solutions to provide a unified production eco-system for packaging companies. Additionally, customers using the Esko workflow will be able to prepare jobs once for output and use EFI’s optimization tools to route them to Fiery-driven digital production devices with a single seamless experience.
The first of the new offerings was showcased at drupa, featuring integration between Esko Automation Engine, EFI Packaging Productivity Suite, and Fiery.
The up-to-date costing model for the new HP Indigo 8000 digital press is incorporated into Label Traxx version 8. Label Traxx customers who have made the decision to invest will be able to generate accurate and consistent estimates immediately. Converters considering the press can also use the cost model to do estimate comparisons in advance, and analyze whether the press is a good fit for their business.
Every four years, the drupa trade show is a venue for major announcements, in the form of strategic partnerships, future technology previews, and product debuts that set the stage for the next several years. We continue to see a trend towards short runs and variability, making each drupa event more focused on digital technologies across a range of popular application segments. dps
Aug2016, DPS Magazine