Digital printing--ready for corrugated work as technology improves

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Digital printing--ready for corrugated work as technology improves

June 10, 2016 - 15:17

OAKLAND, CA, June 10, 2016 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) -Digital printing offers corrugated converters the promise of being able to produce more customized boxes, in shorter runs, with faster turnaround times, almost on demand for customers--but the technology has been slow to take off in the corrugated sector, according to contacts.

Still, a burst of new product announcements and partnerships from equipment suppliers created buzz at the drupa 2016 international trade show in Germany, according to trade press reports.

 HPandSmurfit Kappa Group(SKG) entered into a "strategic collaboration agreement where HP will further develop at SKG box plants in Europe its recently-announced digital corrugated post-print HP PageWide C500 Press.

"While our current digital printing solutions enable us to offer our customers fast time to market and shorter runs, we required a more robust and economical solution to scale our digital printing capabilities," said Smurfit Europe CEO Roberto Villaquiran.

The new inkjet press is to deliver industrial post-print, high-impact, offset-quality graphics direct-to-board, according to HP. It is to handle a wide range of substrates from micro-flute to double-wall board and uses water-based inks. The new press will be tested at customer sites in 2017 and is expected to be commercially available in 2018, according to HP.

 EFI(Electronics for Imaging) introduced the Nozomi C18000, one of the first digital inkjet presses designed "from the ground up" for corrugated packaging, to be available in 2017. The 1.8 m (71 inch) wide press is supposed to reach speeds of 246 linear ft/min (or 87,190 ft2/hr) and print up to seven colors with fast turnaround times and low production costs, EFI said.

"The press is designed to offer exceptional value -- reframing the industry discussion of digital corrugated packaging -- by enabling cost-effective, high-quality, direct-to-board digital printing and by eliminating expenses and a great number of steps associated with plating, printing and lamination in traditional analog production," EFI said in a release.

 Durstis offering a single-pass Rho 130 SPC press for corrugated packaging already used in label printing that is reportedly capable of reaching speeds of 100,690 ft2/hr.

 Screenannounced a partnership withBHS Corrugatedto develop a 400 m/min (985 ft/min) inline inkjet printing unit for new and existing BHS corrugators. The new Screen GP IJC venture has been set up near the company's Inca subsidiary in the UK with a staff of 20.

"If printing moves into the corrugator, it takes out enormous complexities from a box plant, improves throughput significantly, and make converting extremely simple," said BHS corrugated managing dir Christian Engle.

Engle said toldPrint Weekthat BHS has been looking at how to integrate digital printing into corrugators since 2002.

"We had to wait a long time for inkjet technology to come out of its baby shoes," Engel added.

Earlier preprint announcement.Late last year,HPannounced the PageWide Web Press T1100S, co-developed withKBAfor high-volume, digital preprint applications for corrugated packaging.

DS Smith Packagingis the first customer to install the 2.8-m width (110-in) press, which is supposed to deliver higher productivity and production flexibility than traditional analog technology, according to HP.

"Our co-development with HP has resulted in the first digital machine able to print at the speed and width we need for high volume corrugated production," DS Smith Packaging CEO Stefano Rossi said.

Paradigm shift?While current analog printing technology is limited to printing multiple copies of one box design, the new HP T1100S with Multi-lane Print Architecture "creates an immense paradigm shift in the production of corrugated board," HP claimed.

It splits the web into multiple print lanes, so different jobs, with different box sizes and run lengths, can be printed in the individual lanes. Multiple short runs can be queued and printed together, with no make-ready in between jobs, while a long run is printed in another lane, the supplier explained, according to HP.

"The digital technology allows effective customization of corrugated packaging, meeting the demands for shorter print runs without having to create inventory. Corrugated converters can now print only what is needed, when it is needed," HP said in a release.