• Sha Jumari

The Digital Corrugated Packaging Revolution

The HP PageWide Web Press T1100S joins the line of HP digital packaging solutions, set to transform the market for high volume, high speed corrugated packaging printing.

Parallel to drupa 2016, HP gave customers a first glimpse of the new HP PageWide Web Press T1100S, held at an event at the KBA facilities in Wurzburg, Germany. Some 100 corrugated packaging converters from all over the world, including Asia Pacific, were invited for the VIP viewing, held over two days; 2nd and 7th June 2016.

VIP viewing of the HP PageWide T1100S at KBA facilities in Wurzburg

The HP PageWide T1100S is a result of collaboration between HP and KBA-Digital & Web. This collaboration was announced in September 2014 and combines the innovation of HP digital printing technology with KBA’s many years of experience in industrial printing machinery. This partnership came about to fill the unaddressed need for high-volume digital printing in the corrugated space.

Within two years, and just in time for drupa 2016, the full solution is already being installed at some of the largest global corrugated converters, with a fully operational demo unit being showcased at this event.

The T1100S was on full demo, printing full-speed colour at over 180 metres per minute. The press is a 2.8 metre wide simplex inkjet web-press, mainly for the pre-print corrugated packaging, however users are also seeing opportunities for bag and sack printing as well as other packaging applications. As well as customisation and personalisation that is synonymous with HP digital printing (think of the various Coca-Cola campaigns), corrugators are now able to combine many individual jobs together on a roll or across the web for short, mid or long runs with very fast turnaround times.

The HP PageWide T1100S press on display at the KBA site was on schedule for installation at DS Smith, slated for August this year. The UK packaging group has committed to be the first company to run the T1100S.

Corrugated Packaging Industry in Asia Pacific

Digital printing is the fastest growing print process in the packaging segment with a projected annual growth rate of 17% and is expected to be worth $19 billion by 2019. Within this segment, the Asia Pacific region plays a huge role in its growth.

“The corrugated market in Asia Pacific, as part of the overall packaging market, is growing double digit year on year. This is mainly driven by China, which is forecast to contribute up to 60% % of the global corrugated growth over the next 3 years,” said Nick Price, Packaging Segment Manager for Asia Pacific, HP.

Nick Price, Packaging Segment Manager for Asia Pacific, HP, with the HP PageWide Web Press T490HD at drupa 2016

“Japan and South Korea are also driving that growth with manufacturing hot-spots in South East Asia too,” Price observed.

The first markets targeted for the HP PageWide T1100S press are Japan, Korea, Australia and China. Price asserted however, that there has been a lot of interest from many larger converters across the region.

In the past, there really hasn’t been a digital solution to cover these large volumes. With the T1100s, for the first time, we are able to produce cost-effective corrugated work on pre-print liner effectively, while surpassing the quality of conventional flexo,” said Price.

Changing the Corrugated Game

Converters that deal with high volume corrugated packaging are required to accommodate even faster turnarounds and shorter run lengths today. Brands are demanding high-quality customised printed products, and they want them at lower costs.

“The key driver for these huge multi-million dollar corrugated printers is to increase efficiency. The HP PageWide Web Press T1100S introduces three main benefits to dramatically transform the production of corrugated packaging: speed-to-market, cost reduction and job flexibility,” said Price.

The HP T1100S is able to deliver higher throughput compared to traditional analogue technologies by eliminating much of the setup process. Capable of printing up to 30,600 square metres per hour means that packaging manufacturers can now quickly take on new, complex jobs at speed. With the high level of productivity, it can also be implemented economically for large runs.

“Basically, we have a very fast, cost-effective solution that goes from approved artwork file, directly to print. Technically, you can print a ready-file immediately on a T1100S press, this radically speeds up the turnaround time,” Price continued.

According to Price, one of the most significant ways the T1100S immediately removes costs is in the complete elimination of prepress processes that typically come with conventional corrugated printing. Production artwork, pre-press, plates and make-ready come with a hefty cost. On top of the initial cost, the expensive plates and cylinders need storing and can get damaged, resulting in a lot of added cost and waste.

“Going digital takes away the platemaking process, the costs and storage issues that come with it and all of the potential pitfalls that come with conventional prepress,” added Price.

Job flexibility is enhanced with the Multi-lane Print Architecture (MLPA). This feature allows for the web to split into multiple print lanes during production so that different jobs, with varying box sizes and run lengths can be printed next to one another. Multiple ultra-short or short runs in varying formats can be queued and printed together, with no make-ready or press stops in between jobs, while a long run is printed in another lane.

“Rather than having to stop printing one job and then preparing the next file, many different jobs can be produced on one web. It’s a lot more cost-effective and flexible to do that if the job sizes allow,” Price commented.

The HP T1100S is equipped with improved priming options, including a combination of HP Bonding Agent, HP Priming Agent and four-colour HP A50 aqueous pigmented CMYK inks. Users will be able to print in a high quality on standard uncoated and coated liners from 80 to 400 gsm.

Personalised packaging can be accomplished in a single pass: “Converters can use the SmartStream Mosaic technology, for example, to create different images. Variable data also allows for use-by dates, barcodes, QR codes and serial numbers to be added with ease, whereas these would normally require a secondary process,” Price explained.

High colour saturation, dark black optical density and crisp text along with in-line and near-line coating solutions for HP Priming Agent and aqueous overprint varnishing also help optimise print quality. In cooperation with KBA, HP offers a range of equipment and automation options for the T1100S. These include primer and over-print varnish coating solutions, automatic reel change as well as the KBA PATRAS fully automated paper logistics system.

The Pre-Print Difference

HP embarked into the corrugated packaging market in 2014, when it announced its first web-press offering for this market: the HP T400 Simplex Color Inkjet Web Press. The HP T1100S was launched late 2015.

Designed for high-speed mass production, the T400 and T1100 series make up HP’s digital corrugated pre-print solutions.

HP executives with South Korea's Seejoong Industries, first T400s customers in Asia

The first T400s packaging press in Asia will be installed at Sejoong Industries in South Korea, where they will produce high quality rice and pet food bags.

At drupa 2016, HP also closed a deal with Japan’s KADOKAWA CORPORATION for the HP PageWide Web Press T490M HD for publishing application.

“The T4** family of presses are a smaller version of the T1100S at just over 1 metre wide, with variants for the packaging and publishing markets. It is suitable for most companies, but those with a higher volume and larger boxes to work with are opting for the T1100S,” explained Price. “The two machines are printing at 183 meters per minute, which far outstrips other digital packaging devices. The product positioning of the preprint portfolio is very clear.”

The press joins HP Scitex sheet-fed corrugated solutions, which are flatbed machines for lower productivity and very high quality printing, ideal for POS stands or mockups on thick substrates.

drupa was the launchpad for the new HP PageWide C500 press, which fills the space for a robust and flexible industrial post-print corrugated packaging solution. With this launch, HP becomes the only company to have the most complete digital printing offering in the corrugated packaging market.

“The addition of corrugated presses is really going to boost the presence in the digital print market, where there used to be no digital solution. HP is the first company to really have a high-volume, high-quality preprint corrugated press at such a size. We’re so proud to show groundbreaking products at a groundbreaking show here at drupa,” Price concluded.

Read more on the latest news in print in the July issue of Print Innovation Asia.

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