Tag Archives: Drupa

WTT: Update from Benny Landa on Digital Press for Folding Cartons

Print 13 started out very nicely for me as my first official meeting was a breakfast meeting on Sunday morning with Benny Landa and three of my “packaging” colleagues, Danielle Jerschefske of Labels and Labeling Magazine, Pat Reynolds of Packaging World and Yolanda Simonsis of YTC Media. At the very relaxed event at a downtown Chicago hotel, Benny (as I now call him because we are “buds”) shared with us the updates on the packaging versions of the new nanographic digital press line that was introduced at drupa last year.

Kevin Karstedt and Benny LandaComing out of drupa last year I had a pragmatic set of expectations set for the release of the Landa presses to the world. This kind of technology is not easy to bring from the lab to the production floor, my feeling is that drupa was about 12 months early, but that could not be adjusted. So the early print sample quality (and the problems I saw in what they were showing) and aggressive target for beta were just that, samples and targets. I expected the quality to rise and the beta to slip so the announcement over eggs and toast that beta for the first press would be Q4 or 2014 and impressive print samples did not surprise me. What did surprise me a bit was that the first press would be the S10FC with FC standing for Folding Carton. We in packaging are so used to getting commercial printings hand-me-downs, it was a breath of fresh air to hear we were FIRST on the docket. It makes sense in that the FC does not have to print on both sides (duplex) for most carton applications so getting one sided printing commercially acceptable is the first hurtle and one we in packaging can handle just fine. Another nice thing is that the S10 frame can handle a sheet size of about 41” by 29.5” (updated on September 24th) or as they like to say “B1”; which is another pet peeve of mine, “drop the ‘Bs’ when you talk packaging”, lets see if it gets through this time…

There will be numerous articles written on this topic but few will have the “packaging spin” that this one will as I will focus on the items my readers are most interested in. I suggest you read the article by my colleague, Cary Sherburne, also on WTT, to get her keen insights; she was invited to a special session at Print13 for the commercial side of the house. Included with her article is the Landa Press Release around these announcements.

So here are my observations and comments:

New ink “ejectors” – I think it interesting that they continue to call them “ejectors” when the rest of the world calls them inkjet heads but that is part of the mystique of Landa. The resolution of the “ejectors” has gone from the drupa 600 dpi to 1200 dpi today. Speculation is that this is being done with new Kyocera heads, ooops, ejectors, but that was not confirmed or denied when I asked. This is likely one of the key reasons they have been able to increase print quality as much as they have. It is also a reason they will be able to control nozzle dropout problems as the systems go online.

The Quality “S” Curve – Shared with us was a graph they use to show where they were and are going related to print quality. They fully admit the quality has been sub-par and needs to improve. On the curve you can see they feel they are almost at “offset” quality and plan on being will within that range by next years beta. Quite honestly the image quality I saw over breakfast was sellable for most uses, better is always better and I am sure we only saw “the good stuff” but I was encouraged. Issues of printing on various coated and uncoated stocks as well as virgin and recycled boards don’t seem to intimidate them due to the way the ink layer is transferred from a printing blanket to the substrate in a solid rather than liquid form. This could be an advantage over systems that jet UV or Aqueous inks directly to the board where spread and adhesion can be challenging. This could have real benefits to carton producers looking for an edge.

Landa-print-puality-S-curve-for-blog

FDA Compliant Inks – As the print samples were being passed around the table while we were still drinking coffee and munching on something sweet, it was noticeable that there was on odor coming from the print samples as you would usually notice from digital samples. This is due to the inks being water based and maybe from the strong smell of the Starbucks coffee. The company claims the inks are all FDA compliant and with low or no odor they will be good for cosmetic and pharmaceutical work as well. This needs to be validated but it is a good sign.

The New Operator “Cockpit” – If you are reading this far into the article you have likely seen the original Landa press shown at drupa. When looking at the huge “iPad” type control screen stuck to the front of the press my business partner, Jeff Wettersten, said to me “now that looks like a forklift accident waiting to happen”. It seems that others, some of the 120 customers the company says they visited to gain feedback, told them the same thing. So the new version has this interactive cockpit for the operator to work in more of a conventional environment. On the screen are video monitors with real-time shots from critical areas inside the press and all the critical operating functions right next to the output tray. They even have a viewing table (where is the back of the light booth?).

S10FC_front_no_shadow-525

Optional Conventional Inline Coating – In their press release the company says: “An optional conventional inline coating unit will efficiently enhance Nanography-printed products with both flood and selective coating. The coating unit will support flexo rollers and plates as well as a variety of UV and aqueous coatings.”

My question to Landa and the others with digital printing solutions is; “Why would I want an analog coating system on my digital press?” The pragmatic side of me knows the difficulties of integrating a digital coating station but the idea of a static coating system on a digital press just seems counter intuitive to me. There has to be high speed jetting (ejecting) systems out there that could jet coating solutions at the speeds and (low) resolutions needed for digital coatings. I am sure that these conventional coating solutions are simply stopgap solutions and that a true digital solution is just a matter of time but I would have thought that if anyone were to bring that to the market first it would have been Landa.

Note that when looking at the overall diagram of the S10 the coating unit is called out as the white unit after the print engine and the large gray unit between the coater and the delivery is the dryer for the coating. The print unit does not require a dryer as the ink is dry from the time it is transferred from the blanket to the substrate.

Not a Niche Printing Press – The notion that the Landa presses will be for short run digital use was totally dismissed. It is clear that mainstream production is the target for the Nanographic technology. In the presentation Benny showed the popular slide of where digital and analog technologies play now with a gap in the middle of production volumes where his presses nicely fit. It is clear they do not see their presses playing niche roles in the production of folding cartons or even flexible packaging in the not to distant future but playing a major one in terms of jobs and volume produced.

Question of Throughput – A few questions were raised at the meeting that I worked with the Landa team to clarify and I have received that clarification on this question today. Originally the system had eight ejector bars (two each for CMYK) this gave the system the ability to print 13,000 sheets per hour. Now the system has a standard configuration of one set of CMYK ejectors that will give a 6500 sheets per hour rating. They say there is a future option for an added CMYK set of ejectors to get the system to 13,000 sheets. This however will likely jeopardize the extended color gamut plans the company plans.

Extended Color Gamut – Benny was very excited about, the use of extended color gamut printing using, CMYK +OVG on the Landa presses. It is interesting to see the level of excitement the company seems to have on this topic, it almost felt as thought this was a new line of thinking. In fact, this topic has been discussed in packaging circles for the better part of the last decade. Outside of a few instances it has yet to gain major traction while it is of keen interest to Brand Owners and Converters alike. I see the obvious upside potential of its application but also see the issues holding it back from full scale adoption. These Nanographic presses coming into the market may add some weight to the positive side of the scale, may help the tipping point, for extended gamut printing to become mainstream. That is yet to be seen but it is an intriguing prospect.

Not So Final Note – My final thought on this article… undoubtedly there will be many more on the topic… I am pleased with the prospects that my new BFF, Benny has laid out for us. Yes the timing is not what some had hoped but it is what realists projected. While it is not rocket science, it is pretty complicated and they had a long way to go coming out of drupa. Frankly I am impressed with the progress they have made and thank the Landa team for including me with “the Packaging People”.

Check out Benny’s latest video update on Karstedt Partners TV. Bookmark the station too…

 

This article was originally published on WhatTheyThink.com at:

http://whattheythink.com/articles/65575-update-benny-landa-digital-press-folding-cartons/

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WTT: The Folding Carton Sector, excerpts from 2012 PRIMIR Research

For the first few weeks of we featured articles focused on the corrugated packaging sector. For the next few weeks we will be focusing on the folding carton sector and will post interviews with Ben Markens of the Paperboard Packaging Council and Jay Willie of the Independent Carton Group.

To help us introduce the various packaging sectors to the growing WhatTheyThink Labels & Packaging readership we asked PRIMIR if we could pull excerpts from their 2012 study that Karstedt Partners was commissioned to write titled Packaging: Evaluation of Vertical Markets & Key Applications. This study was unique to many industry studies in that it looked at the force being placed on Brand Owners, the originator of packaging orders. Taking this focus a step further the study looked in-depth at the major vertical markets of food, beverage, household, personal care and healthcare to see what will be driving packaging demand in these verticals and thus driving the supply chain. Following are some of what we brought to PRIMIR members surrounding the folding carton sector. The full table of contents for the report can be downloaded here.

The growth in the folding carton sector is projected to mirror that of consumer products growing at a rate that matches GDP.

Insights From Converter Interviews

The research team conducted over 180 interviews with constituents all through the packaging supply chain. Following are some excerpts from those interviews with folding carton converters.

The folding carton converters indicated that they are considering moving between flexo and offset printing processes over the next five years. Discussions indicated even movement in-and-out of each process. Both sides of these movements claim high investments and prepress costs are detrimental for flexo adoption and the lower overall operating and finishing costs of flexo over offset on the opposite side.

Carton manufacturers say they need to more effectively manage production orders that are shrinking in size and increasing in frequency. They are actively seeking solutions that allow them to produce more orders while maintaining overall production volumes. This is not simply obtained by purchasing presses that have quick changeovers. This plan moves a bottleneck from one process step to another. Carton converters are searching for solutions that truly transform their operations for the better.

In discussions with a carton manufacturer who recently installed a highly automated large format sheet fed press, he states that one of the major challenges he faces is feeding the press jobs and clearing the table after it. By this he means that prepress has to have fresh printing plates ready throughout the production day, and pallets of board have to be continually loaded into the feeder to assure the press does not have to wait for raw materials. As soon as the press needs to wait for input materials, efficiency and profitability are erased. On the output end, he notes, the bottleneck soon shifts to the die cutting process, which is tuned for fewer changeovers and more volume.

Another area of wasted time and resources is the practice of maintaining inventories of finished goods for customers. In speaking with converters of all types over the years, this practice is seen as a ‘necessary evil’ that customers need and converters provide. Most say it has gotten a lot better, but it still is a major drain on profits for both the converter and ultimately the customer as well. JIT was offering relief to this practice but in reality it has marginal success. Converters still manage inventories for customers opting for ‘just-in time’ deliveries rather than ‘just-in time’ manufacturing.

For most carton manufacturers, quality is a given, there is no discussion about cutting quality to gain productivity or flexibility. The quality standpoint is one of the reasons they tend to stick with technologies they know as reliable. As mentioned earlier, there are mixed messages regarding carton press preferences shifting from offset-to-flexo to take advantage of inline processing available in narrow and mid-web flexo presses for cartons. Converters familiar with flexo printing have a first-hand understanding of the quality of high definition flexo and what is required to produce flexo quality printing. Converters that have little or no first-hand experience with flexo, believe that the cost and learning curves are too steep to make a viable transition. Suppliers interested in bringing flexo presses to the carton segment have to overcome significant inertia, which includes solid ROI data to substantiate the advantages of such systems.

Interest in digital printing is high, but participation is limited… This is not to say that carton manufacturers are not interested in digital printing, on the contrary, interest in new press offerings at drupa 2012 was high among carton converters. This segment eagerly awaits a solution that offers an alternative to running orders on equipment that is not equipped to manage them consistently and effectively.

However, digital solutions bring on a similar series of process issues, most notably what happens after printing, when coating, die cutting and folding and gluing is needed. The issue of die cutting is addressed by digital die cutting that uses lasers and special creasing methodologies. This was shown at drupa 2012 as well as other new technologies that show promise in helping to alleviate these production bottlenecks.

The interviewed carton converters believe that their customers are more ‘value-oriented’ than ‘volume-oriented,’ by a 2 to 1 margin. Sixty percent say their customers would pay a premium for products or services that address unmet needs. This corresponds to the brand owners’ response. Specifically, folding carton packaging provides the most value to their brands. Overall, 72% of brand owners say they will pay more for products or services that satisfy their unmet needs.

As part of the study Karstedt Partners interviewed 122 Brand Owners in multiple vertical sectors as well as 60 converters and industry leaders to compile comprehensive trending information that will be affecting buying decisions for the next few years. For more on the study and to become a member of PRIMIR visit them at http://www.primir.org.

 This article was originally published on WhatTheyThink.com
http://whattheythink.com/articles/62829-folding-carton-sector-excerpts-2012-primir-research/
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WTT: WhatTheyThink Kicks Off Special Labels & Packaging Section

Welcome to the inaugural post for WhatTheyThink’s Labels & Packaging website. The folks at WTT and I have been speaking for quite some time on the need a version of WTT that focused on the needs of those in the packaging supply chain. I am honored to be the Managing Editor of this new endeavor and will strive to bring meaningful and timely content to those in the packaging supply chain who are looking for information and intelligence in order to do their jobs better.

As the supply chain for packaging is extremely divers, we will try to address the needs of multiple disciplines from graphic design, structural design, prepress, workflow, product and project management and printing and finishing of all flavors. This is a good time to begin this effort, coming out of a drupa year there are many new products and services that are targeting the package printing marketplace, products and services that are in need of exploring and understanding. Through out this inaugural year of WTTL&P (how is that for a twitter hashtag #WTTL&P?) we will grow the content areas of the site as the needs of the readership direct. Starting with areas around design, prepress and workflow we will expand out to areas asked for by you the readers. These areas could include flexo, gravure, offset, digital and screen printing; finishing in cartons and flexible packaging; color management, in the pressroom and back to design; substrate manufacture and usage to name just a few.

In addition to the mechanical part of the packaging supply chain, WTT has done a good job in addressing business issues facing printers and suppliers and that will continue on the Packaging side of the site. Mergers and acquisitions in packaging have been increasing for the past few years and with all likelihood will continue in 2013 and beyond.

Readership will likely be a combination of users and suppliers with each group having different agendas and needs. This medium is unique and is well suited to the goals of both groups as each is hungry to reach and learn from the other. WTTL&P will be a conduit for that linkage and will strive to bring meaningful content to the readership.

A mainstay of the WTT model is a comprehensive news feed section on relevant topics to their readership. This will continue on the Packaging side bringing readers news that is compiled daily to bring the latest news and information in one place. To all the vendors and businesses in the audience, be sure to send your press releases to news@whattheythink.com in text or word format to be sure it is included on the daily news feed. I will be funneling worthy information to the site as well. Users and business owners, be sure to check the site regularly to be close to the news that affects you and your business.

This article was originally published on WhatTheyThink.com:

http://whattheythink.com/articles/62291-whattheythink-kicks-special-labels-packaging-section/

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Digital Solutions for Packaging at drupa 2012: Part IV A deeper look at Unmet Needs in Package Printing

This post builds on Part Three of the series and continues to expand on our new report, 2012 drupa Packaging Review – Folding Carton Report where we explore what vendors showed at drupa 2012 it is important to understand what challenges their customers are facing. Karstedt Partners in collaboration with Mike Ferrari of Ferrari Innovative Solutions has developed a series of graphic depictions to help illustrate the dynamics affecting the packaging supply chain. The first diagram shows the revised view of the packaging lifecycle for a typical product. To review, segments “A” and “B” align with special requirements, for either new product launches or promotional activity. Segments “C”, “D” and “E” focus on the management of active products. The supply chain focus is on segment “D”, the mainline or long run requirements, as this is desired business in a capital-intensive business such as packaging.

The Packaging Lifecycle – Revised View

Source: Karstedt Partners, LLC

This next graphic shows how the demand stream coming from the tails of the lifecycle diagram, quadrants A, B, C and E are driving 70% of orders but only 30% of volume and how that has shifted and is causing major problems in meeting the needs/

Impact of SKU Proliferation on Converters – The New Operational Reality

Source: Karstedt Partners

In the following illustration the yellow box represents the increased inefficiencies created through additional low volume production demands. In a capital-intensive business, profitability risk is far greater in the new model due to the extended time getting to volume runs, and the resulting overall lower capacity due to more production set-ups and greater inefficiencies.

Change in Demand Brings Inefficacies

Source: Karstedt Partners

The reality of the situation is when productivity enhancements are considered over a typical production period the overall impact on most converters is a net decline in capacity, as productivity enhancements have contributed to greater thru-put. Additional SKU proliferation, increasing demand from an improved economy, and limited options for additional productivity improvements from existing equipment and processes is straining operational capability.

The reduction in overall thru-put is also having a negative impact on profitability. This “perfect storm” is forcing converters to re-think their operational model. Converters commonly use the term “flexibility” to define what they are seeking. The perfect solution is a press that combines high productivity, print quality, converting and finishing options, media flexibility, at the lowest cost. Absent the “total solution”, converters are seeking to create a broader operational platform to manage variations in daily production demand. For years, converters have upgraded production presses, and have moved non-conforming production demand to older presses to improve productivity. Product requirements, along with changes in press technology, are creating problems around the traditional practice of being able to move demand from one press to another. Converters recognize that specific solutions are now required to manage specific requirements for print as well as converting. The needs of the customer, as well as the needs of the business, now require multiple options for printing and converting.

 


Series Overview: True to its history of introducing new technology to the printing world, drupa 2012 offered plenty of new things. In addition it showcased a great deal of packaging specific offerings in printing and finishing technologies. If drupa 2008 was “The Inkjet drupa” this time around it was surely “The; ‘we think we have a digital solution for packaging’ drupa”. Karstedt Partners spent 10-man days on the floor meeting with equipment suppliers, users, journalists and pundits evaluating what was being offered by vendors, and what was being asked for by users. This 4 part series of posts offers an overview of what we learned from these meetings and can share with those interested in our opinions and observations. The full 61-page report is available by clicking here.

 

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Digital Solutions for Packaging at drupa 2012: Part III Unmet needs in Package Printing

As we continue to explore what vendors showed at drupa 2012 for our Digital Printing for Packaging, it is important to understand what challenges their customers are facing. Karstedt Partners in collaboration with Mike Ferrari of Ferrari Innovative Solutions has developed a series of graphic depictions to help illustrate the dynamics affecting the packaging supply chain. The first diagram shows the historical lifecycle for a typical product. Segments “A” and “B” align with special requirements, for either new product launches or promotional activity. Segments “C”, “D” and “E” focus on the management of active products. The supply chain focus is on segment “D”, the mainline or long run requirements, as this is desired business in a capital-intensive business such as packaging.

The Packaging Lifecycle – Historical View

Source: Karstedt Partners, LLC

Packaging Converters receive orders from Brand Owners and translate the demand stream into production orders. The next figure shows converter production requirements.

Packaging Converter Production Requirements – the Old Operational Model

Source: Karstedt Partners, LLC

Consumer behavior related to how we shop, where we shop, and what we shop for has changed over the past ten years. Likewise, the retailer and brand owner response has changed dramatically to enhance consumer engagement. The result has been rapid product proliferation. Twenty years ago, in most major product classifications, four to five major brand producers served 80% of that specific market demand. Put another way, four products served 80% of the market. Today, four to five major brand producers continue to serve most major product classifications, but instead of producing a single product, they now produce 250-300 variations of the same product. The product inside is the same, only the packaging has changed. The next figure shows how this dynamic is impacting the product lifecycle.

The Packaging Lifecycle – Revised View

Source: Karstedt Partners

The total volume produced has not changed; the total number of orders, as well as the distribution of those orders has changed dramatically. The number and frequency of mainline orders has decreased dramatically, while the number and frequency of orders for innovation, event marketing, low-volume SKUs and end-of-life requirements has increased dramatically. The challenge for the packaging supply chain traditionally has been to manage scale; the new challenge is to continue to manage scale while also managing scope. Industries with an infrastructure tailored to volume typically have a difficult time adding capabilities for speed, flexibility and convenience. This creates opportunities for new entrants such as contract manufactures and contract packagers.

The fourth post in this series: A Deeper Look at the Unmet Needs in Packaging,  will further discuss what challenges face packaging converters that digital and analog systems suppliers are trying to address.

 


Series Overview: True to its history of introducing new technology to the printing world, drupa 2012 offered plenty of new things. In addition it showcased a great deal of packaging specific offerings in printing and finishing technologies. If drupa 2008 was “The Inkjet drupa” this time around it was surely “The; ‘we think we have a digital solution for packaging’ drupa”. Karstedt Partners spent 10-man days on the floor meeting with equipment suppliers, users, journalists and pundits evaluating what was being offered by vendors, and what was being asked for by users. This 4 part series of posts offers an overview of what we learned from these meetings and can share with those interested in our opinions and observations. The full 61-page report is available by clicking here.

 

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Digital Solutions for Packaging at drupa 2012: Part I – Folding Carton Market Trends

Overview: True to its history of introducing new technology to the printing world, drupa 2012 offered plenty of new things. In addition it showcased a great deal of packaging specific offerings in printing and finishing technologies. If drupa 2008 was “The Inkjet drupa” this time around it was surely “The; ‘we think we have a digital solution for packaging’ drupa”. Karstedt Partners spent 10-man days on the floor meeting with equipment suppliers, users, journalists and pundits evaluating what was being offered by vendors, and what was being asked for by users. This 4 part series of posts offers an overview of what we learned from these meetings and can share with those interested in our opinions and observations. The full 61-page report is available by clicking here.

The objective for this analysis is to assess the potential opportunities, threats, and implications for the packaging supply chain posed by new products and initiatives introduced at drupa 2012. Following are a few general comments and impressions regarding the show. In preparing for the show we scoured the web sites and presentations of the major players attempting to gain a feel for the state of the market from their perspective. The following slide from KBA caught our attention, and raised a big question; How is the industry going to respond to a 49% decline in revenue?

Source: 87th Koenig & Bauer AG Annual General Meeting, June 14, 2012

At 73% share, sheetfed offset dominates the new equipment market. Market segmentation of sheetfed offset typically groups press sizes into the following configurations: less than 24 inches, 24-36 inches, 37 to 42 inches and 43 inches and above.

As we prepared for our drupa interviews, we desired to understand where companies participated and what their outlook was for their particular segment of the market. Following are some observations:

  • Press options for the under 36-inch segment are numerous with no shortage of participants. Heidelberg is the dominant player in this segment, with a 35% share in the 50 x 70 cm format size and a 48% share in the 70 x 100 cm format size. The bulk of Komori, Ryobi, Mitsubishi, Gallus, Presstek, and Omet sales also come from this classification.
  • Press options in the VLF (very large format) size, or above 40 inches reduce dramatically. KBA is the market leader, followed by Heidelberg, ManRoland and Goss.
  • Packaging applications are beginning to become the driver for sales in the VLF format. A sales manager from a large press supplier estimated 65% of VLF presses sold are being purchased for packaging applications.
  • Digital printing is having the greatest impact in the 50 x 70 cm format size. Hot button issues are the requirements for flexibility, derived through flexibility in format size, quick set-ups and changeovers, and solid integration of pre-press to press.
  • Digital capabilities in the 70 x 100 cm format size are now being introduced. FujiFilm, Screen, HP, MGI and Landa all displayed technologies targeting this format size. Having missed the boat on the 50 x 70 cm format size, traditional analog suppliers are quickly announcing strategic partnerships with digital developers.
  • Entry into the 70 x 100 cm format size has also opened the door into potential expansion into Folding Carton. While Commercial Printing applications remain the primary target, Folding Carton is viewed as a potential opportunity through Commercial Printers as well as Folding Carton Converters.
  • The introduction of off-line converting equipment specifically designed for packaging applications makes an off-line digital printing solution much more attractive.

The next post in this series will look how digital and analog systems as well as their promotions to the packaging market have progressed since drupa 2008. For the full review click here.

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History Repeats Itself at Drupa 2012?

Coming out of Drupa, I see history repeating itself for digital package printing. In the early 1990s Indigo entered the narrow web labels sector with their Omnius digital press which paved the way for single pass digital printing of labels. Also in those early days Xeikon, offered the DCP/32S a dry toner press and others introduced UV inkjet single pass systems. The common theme was that all these companies entered the labels market as digital printing specialists rather than label specialists. In hindsight, I think all these vendors would admit that back then they ‘didn’t know what they didn’t know’ about the labels business. In these early the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufactures) had a very limited understanding of the business dynamics driving the labels sector.

Indigo Omnius, circa 1995

In the mid 1990s as digital label printing was gaining a slight foothold in the sector, the OEMs decided it was a good idea to bring laser die cutting into the discussion. At the time, lasers were in the early days of development for this application but showed a great deal of promise, just like the digital presses. I remember many heated discussions among vendors as to the merits of placing the laser die cutter inline with the digital press or leaving it offline as a stand-alone station – a question still being asked today. I recall seeing a very painful LabelExpo demonstration in 2004 of a MarkAndy flexo web press with the Dotrix SPICE (Single Pass Inkjet Color Engine) with laser die cutting stations added. The purpose of the demo was to show how well the “combo” would work, but problems with the laser and the rewind did not help the demo showcase a ‘solution’.

Timing is everything, and it was not viable in 2004. LabelExpo 2011 and Drupa 2012 however, featured vendors such as Jetrion among others, who showed fully integrated laser die cutting options within their new modular systems. Timely solutions, delivered to a market that is ready to adopt them into a production environment.

So what is all this talk about history? As a packaging guy this Drupa really resonated with me as  “the we think we have a digital solution for Packaging” Drupa. There were so many companies showing systems that could handle “board” and they used that as license to say they are “packaging” presses. Let’s take a look at a few digital solutions that caught most of the packaging (in this case for cartons) press (pun intended). On the digital press side the obvious introductions are those of Landa, the S10 (S standing for Sheetfed) and the HPIndigo 30000 presses that have been designed from the ground up to address folding carton production.

It is clear to me that both Landa (who by the way was the father of the first digital systems and the Indigo printing system) and HP did their homework before coming out with these presses. Both companies are building on lessons learned in the days of developing digital label systems. For example, both companies used outside expertise to expand their core strengths for component development such as sheet handling. Both went to the carton marketplace to understand the needs of carton manufactures before they came to market with a machine they thought would work. And biggest of all, both seem to understand the business and manufacturing dynamics of the carton market better than their predecessors did in the label sector 10 years ago.

The next digital carton related technology that was shown was the Euclid system by startup HighCon. This system is the first of its kind digital die cutting system for short run cartons. There is a lot written about this system so I wont go into it in detail here. I do see the Euclid as a well conceived and developed first attempt at addressing the next bottleneck in the carton workflow. I also think more systems will be seen at Drupa 2016 that address this need. I expect acceptance of digital die cutting for the carton sector will progress, as the presses will, much faster than they did in the label sector. This will be partly due to the advancement in the laser technology itself, which is significant, but more so but the understanding OEMs are seeking of the marketplace they are trying to serve.

I also commend the HighCon team for understanding that this system should not just be tied to the digital printing engines, that it has a place in all of short run cartons. This is illustrated by their collaboration with Presstek and their 75DI digital offset press. This combination can be used for economical short carton runs of 500 to 20,000 impressions. This type of collaborative thinking is happening much earlier in the development cycle for cartons than it did for labels and bodes well for the evolution of the digital process for cartons.

For these reasons and for the fact that digital printing technologies (liquid toner, dry toner, Inkjet, and now nanography) have come so far over the past decade, I feel by next Drupa digital carton presses will be seen as viable production press options rather than cool new technologies that aren’t even in beta yet.

Kudos to the OEMs for learning from the past and for looking to the future…

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2 B or Not 2 B That is the Question for Folding Carton Manufacturers

2 B or not 2 B that is the question…

This post will be short and hopefully sweet… I just got back from Drupa and was very impressed with all the digital solutions companies like Landa, HP, FujiFilm, Heidelberg, Komori, Bobst, EFI, MGI, Screen, Myakashi and many others who are showing systems for the packaging sector. Many of them are looking at the folding carton sector with new offerings. It seems that any press that is sheetfed and can handle substrates over 18 point is automatically called a Packaging Press.

Now comes the advice… if you really want to sell to folding carton manufactures…loose the B. Outside of the commercial printing market the terminology of B for press or paper sizes is not used. I cannot tell you how many times this topic comes up when speaking with a carton manufacturer following a demo. Second parts of the advice, in the States use inches as the form of measurement don’t fumble around with millimeters and having to convert. Outside of the States using millimeters or centimeters is just fine. This goes for board thickness measurement as well, use point sizes or even thousandths of an inch (0.024 inches would be 24 point) in Europe continue using microns.

Get the Point? Learn what the package printer is used to hearing, speak their language if you want them to listen to you…Oh, and one more…don’t tell them how many “pages” can be produced…they work in jobs or sheets…

Just a quick note on the topic, hope it helps. When we start talking about presses going into the Flexible Packaging sector we will have to do this all over again…They don’t care about Bs either…

Helpful links:

ISO 216 on paper sizes from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_216

Paperboard from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paperboard

 

Get the details of our analysis by ordering our ‘Trends Assessment of Folding Carton Solutions Report’ which will be available on our website shortly after our return from Drupa.

The report is a high level assessment of what we think the key developments are in digital printing and finishing for the Folding Carton Sector coming out of Drupa. If you would like more information or be notified when the report is available, send us an email at kevin [at] karstedt.com.

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Drupa Day 4: Short Run Folding Cartons

Our last day at Drupa ended up being full of promising packaging solutions, much more than we expected and we wished we could have extended our stay another few days. On the “here and now” front we had fascinating conversations with Flexo press maker Gallus in Hall 2. They give a first class presentation/demonstration of their ICS 670 press featuring inline foil, gravure, embossing, inspection and die cutting.  In a 20 minute presentation they printed 3 jobs with different inks and images. Mike Pfaff of Gallus shared with us the increased interest he is seeing by carton printers who are looking to take process and make-ready steps out of their carton manufacturing process. The carton samples from the demo run used High Quality Flexo. Watch the machine in action here:



On the offset side we stopped by the Presstek booth in Hall 4 and saw the 75 DI, an offset press which straddles the digital/analog fence. The 75 DI images offset plates on-press, and can change over in just a few minutes. It is designed to be efficient for jobs of 500 to 20,000 impressions. Mark Sullivan, Group Product Director for Presstek told me they are seeing an increase in interest in this press by Folding Carton printers looking for short run carton relief.

Optimizing Folding Carton printing and finishing operations is also the goal of development efforts by the analog press and finishing systems manufacturers as well. Heidelberg, Komori, Mitsubishi , KBA, ManRoland Sheetfed  and Bobst  all showed fast change over presses and finishing solutions that address the needs of the industry as they understand them for short run and plant efficiency.

Also showing short run digital solutions in the carton space, Xeikon in Hall 8a, continues to forge ahead with Folding Carton innovations with their 3000 series digital dry toner press. Increasing their product offering in packaging, Xeikon is also showing their ThermoFlexX line of flexo plate imagers.

While Xeikon plays the ‘here and now’ card very well, they also have a ‘futures’ trump card along with some of the other technology powerhouses. In their pre-show announcements we heard about a liquid ink toner called ‘Quantum’ which is being introduced now as High Viscosity Toner (HVT) technology now branded ‘Trillium‘. Trillium is a new liquid image development system that is extremely fast. Shown as a technology demo in one color, Trillium  will first be applied to commercial print applications. We did ask Mike Ring, President of Xeikon North America if they had packaging in their sights for Trillium, and he smiled and gave us a firm maybe…

While development efforts are strong around core technologies, the analog press manufactures have indicated (some more strongly than others) their intentions in embracing digital printing technologies as part of their product portfolio. Heidelberg, Komori and ManRoland made announcements before Drupa of agreements with Landa to integrate the Nanographic technology into new press initiatives but Landa’s is not the only digital technology being integrated. Inkjet, the darling of last drupa is still keen for integration as is liquid toner technology.

Digital printing for labels and packaging was the focus of last Drupa and those solutions are now in use and have been proven in the marketplace. We look forward to the next 4 years where we will see these concepts become reality.

Get the details of our analysis by ordering our ‘Trends Assessment of Folding Carton Solutions Report’ which will be available on our website shortly after our return from Drupa.

The report is a high level assessment of what we think the key developments are in digital printing and finishing for the Folding Carton Sector coming out of Drupa. If you would like more information or be notified when the report is available, send us an email at kevin [at] karstedt.com.

 

 

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Drupa Day 3: 2012 The Year of Digital Solutions for Packaging

After our third day at Drupa we are getting more convinced that Drupa 2012 is the “we think we have a digital solution for Packaging” show. All indications we’ve seen on the showfloor predict that Drupa 2016 will be the “Digital Printing for Packaging Drupa”. What does that mean? It means that the old standbys, Xeikon, HP Indigo (with their label and narrow web machines), Jetrion, Durst, and a few others are here this year showing continuing improvements in packaging technologies for labels. These systems are still very viable solutions and will be solid workhorses for their owners for some time.

It also means that there are now a group of what I will call “the new breed” of presses that are being shown here for the first time with packaging “stars” in their developers eyes. These new breed offerings will fall into two categories, group one has all the 30 by 20 inch sheetfed systems (they are all calling B2 format, a topic for another blog) that are able to handle paperboard of up to 20 or even 24 point, which the developers are using as license to say they are “packaging” presses. These offerings are coming from Screen, MGI, Memjet (through OEMs) and some others. There will likely be some carton work done on these presses but for the most part they are commercial printer centric presses that may end up doing some small-scale carton work.

The second group are the presses that are specifically designed for their particular market segment such as Folding Carton or Flexible Packaging. This group is small in number but large in noise and potential, Landa and HP Indigo have four systems in this group, one each for Folding Cartons and Flexible Packaging. All four systems are positioned as production presses and are being targeted at packaging converters. The other similarity of this group of offerings is they are on a similar track to the market, going into beta testing in early 2013 and targets for general release are late 2013.

30000 Blanket: Interesting the Blanket for the 30000 is 30” by 40”…
30000 Carton Press: The HP Indigo 30000 Carton Press, 30” by 20” format sheetfed
Where Landa fits: Where Landa sees their presses fitting
Landa Touchscreen: Operator touchscreen for the Landa Presses
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