Glossop Cartons is to be the beta site for the Highcon Euclid Beam, a 5,000sph version of the digital cutting and creasing machine that will be launched at Drupa.
The new machine is on its way to the Stockport printer where it will be put though its paces alongside an existing Highcon Euclid. Glossop is the only UK carton printer with the digital finishing technology and was one of the first in the world to see its potential.
“The biggest feedback we received,” says VP marketing Eshchar Ben Shitrit “was that we needed to take our capabilities into real production and not just restrict it to shorter runs. Printers wanted it for day to day production.”
The company is confident that the technology will prove robust. “It has a high level of maturity,” he says. “We are taking orders at Drupa and will start to deliver in last quarter of this year.”
It will crease and cut straightforward carton blanks from the full B1 sheet at full speed. With more intricate designs, say for greetings cards, throughput speed will fall. For the most part sheets it will finish will have been printed conventionally because until Landa starts shipping the S10 press or Heidelberg its Primefire 106, there are no known digital presses in this format.
Shitrit explains that the Beam will open the way for these litho printers to offer customised higher value products. “It is going to enable new types of products to be created on our machines with many more products than are suited to short runs,” he says. This will include commercial products, direct mail pieces and social stationery.
Glossop has used its Highcon on promotional packaging, on test marketing and short runs from sheets printed on its Xeikon. At the recent Packaging Innovations event in Birmingham, director Jacky Sidebottom-Every said that Glossop was working towards a large scale contract with a major brand owner that would kick in later this year.
Glossop's development work with Highcon is not restricted to the new digital creaser/cutter. It is also trialling a web to print application that Highcon calls Axis. This is the backbone of the Glossop personalised packaging website. The software combines the variable content engine from XMPie with package design and production software from Esko to create Axis.
This will allow customers to upload new artwork to existing templates, including variable data for print or finishing, to reorder previous jobs which will make short run print on demand more cost effective by removing administration costs, and to upload complete new jobs. These will pass automatically through the production process to a digital press and to the digital finisher.
“Web to print has not reached the packaging market,” says Shitrit, “because packaging is a very different world. We are trying to bridge the gap between web to print and packaging. We are creating a very simplified process for ordering boxes.”
The end user can check a 3D soft proof of the final box before placing the order, which sends the data associated with the order into a business management system and the production data into the workflow. “It is bringing new capability to users of any one of our machines,” he adds. "We are taking basic finishing process and turning it into a profit centre."
This includes upgrades to Euclid being introduced for Drupa to add the variable cutting function. This can be used to add a level of security to high value documents as well as full personalisation, say a child's name, to an online purchase. Highcon Pulse a B2 version of the technology to be a first step into digital cutting and creasing and as a match for the growing number of B2 digital presses on the market. It will get an outing at Dscoop in israel ahead of Drupa.
It runs at 2,000sph. “We have spoken to a large number of smaller companies and today they require a different approach from Highcon. Where the customer also has a B1 litho press, the Euclid is a good fit, but those that have an Indigo 10000 or 30000, or thinking about a Jetpress 720 or KM-1, need something with a smaller footprint. We see a huge demand for this machine.”
The Highcon Drupa stand will also include some 3D sculptures that have been produced using the equipment. It is not 3D printing, Barshit is at pains to point out, but 3D modelling. It works by slicing a 3D file into slices the thickness of the paper or board used and cutting these out on the Highcon before assembling them into a sold object of any height. It is turning paper back into wood,” he says. Highcon has completed a wine rack standing 1.2 metres high and a twisting column noting that both would takes several weeks to produce using conventional methods. Using Highcon the same objects are produced in hours with equivalent savings in cost.
Highcon plans to add a further two machines to its portfolio of digital cutting and creasing machines and Glossop Cartons will trial the 5,000sph Highcon Beam. It is the beta site for Highcon's Axis web to carton application.