Leicester carton printer Qualvis is open for business on a twin Xerox iGen operation for carton printing, the first company in the world to run an iGen4 and iGen5 side by side for packaging applications.
It comes as the company is also installing a twin coater seven-colour KBA Rapida 106, amounting to a £5 million investment in the independent business. The litho press should be running in March.
The two Xerox presses run inline to Tresu coaters with a Kama DC 76 cut and crease platen to handle the smaller sheet sizes. The digital presses are specified to run up to 600 micron boards with the fifth colour option on the iGen5 ensuring that a wider range of brand colours and PMS spots can be achieved.
The installation, completed over the new year, is the culmination of 18 months' work looking into the prospects and technology for digital carton printing. Managing director Jason Short explains: “The two Xerox presses are ideal. We are seeing diminishing run lengths and increasing demand for innovation from our customers, including personalisation and localisation. Brands and retailers are looking for variety and having the ability to produce quick to market packaging is essential.”
The value add aspect is enhanced through investment in video and programming skills to link images and codes on the carton to additional content, marketing material and data capture. “This is another world first,” says Short.
The initial targets for digital packaging will include market testing and prototyping using the lack of plates and faster turnaround to match customer requirements. It has a web to print offering which will reduce friction in handling files for digital printing.
The configuration and installation was managed by Advanced Business Equipment which had installed the single iGen press line at Alexir in Edenbridge two years ago. Digital printing has had less impact on carton printing than in commercial print or labels, but this is predicted to change as the same imperatives of waste reduction and frequent changes to product design and marketing campaigns make digital more viable.
At the same time digital technology can offer the quality and the consistency that brands need and which was perhaps lacking in earlier generations of equipment.
Qualvis has installed a digital production department with twin iGens, Tresu coaters and Kama cutting and creasing. The investment follows the purchase of a KBA Rapida, now being installed at the Leicester factory.