Key requirements for digital printing on corrugated board

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Digital printing has made progress in a wide range of applications, and corrugated cardboard is showing promise. HP, EFI, FUJIFILM and Canon are among the leading manufacturers of presses and inks supplying the market, and converters are finding opportunities to use digital printing for corrugated segments such as signs, displays and boxes.

While digital has made inroads in the market, there is great potential in the global corrugated market, which is estimated at $250 billion. Digital takes a small share of the market, but if it can overcome challenges and meet customer demands, it could continue to grow rapidly.

Randy Paar, Marketing Manager – Display Graphics, Large Format Solutions for Canon Solutions Americapointed out that corrugated cardboard is very porous, often warped and therefore very difficult to manage keeping it flat during printing.

“Recognizing this challenge, Canon has developed a special version of the Arizona 6100 series that implements a very powerful blower system that not only sucks up tough corrugated cardboard, but also warped ¾-inch plywood,” Paar said. . “No additional belts are needed, which helps the operator to be even more productive compared to a conventional vacuum table.”

Adi Shorer, HP PWI Corrugated, Product Manager, Post-Print, noted that HP has seen a recovery in online business through e-commerce and web-to-print.

“Additionally, small brands online have continued to grow post-COVID, as more people pursue their passion for starting small businesses, while more consumers consciously shop locally,” said Shorer added. “The increased focus on production flexibility and application versatility is exactly why converters are embracing new digital production technology to service a diverse basket of tasks in the most efficient way. HP corrugated presses and workflows are tuned to produce jobs ranging from one to several thousand copies. This provides the flexibility required by the operation of e-commerce. Additionally, using the HP PrintOS Marketplace, we partner with web2print solutions, like boxitnow, providing an integrated platform for selling packages online.

Evandro Matteucci, vice president and general manager, packaging and building materials, EFI Inkjet, observed that many factors are involved in adding a new single-pass digital corrugation printer, from manufacturing and shipping to customer site preparation and facility construction.

“It has become more difficult with the pandemic,” said Matteucci. “But the demand is still there as single-pass digital meets the critical needs of many converters to drive future profitability and growth.

“To address the challenges that new customers may face, EFI has focused on being a strong, advisory technology provider for converters moving to digital corrugated packaging production,” added Matteucci. “Beyond equipment installation, EFI works closely with customers throughout the necessary technology adoption curve, offering a 12-week ramp-up and training program, a year and 24/7 remote and in-person maintenance packages.”

Jim Wegemer, national account manager for INX International Ink Co., said digital printing faces a number of challenges while trying to grow its position in corrugated.

“A lot of people still don’t understand the strengths and weaknesses of digital printing,” Wegemer said. “This can lead to graphics that are well-suited to flexo or litho, but not better suited to digital, and also lead to businesses that print digitally not understanding how best to sell digital printing.

“Over the past few years, digital printing solutions for corrugated board have evolved significantly,” added Wegemer. “Some people who are looking at digital as an option are still looking at what it was capable of two or three years ago, not what it’s actually capable of. with the latest solutions available today. People’s knowledge of digital solutions and digital capabilities is improving every year. Therefore, digital enhances its presence and potential in the corrugated market.

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