Eighteen Months Since drupa, Digital Corrugated Continues its Rise
When the global printing and packaging industry descended on Düsseldorf, Germany, 18 months ago for drupa 2016, one of the event’s biggest surprises was just how many digital press manufacturers unveiled single-pass, direct-to-board, digital corrugated presses. What once seemed like a far off, futuristic technology is now hitting the market with multiple suppliers launching these platforms into production or test sites.
With its December 14 announcement that Caesarea, Israel-based Carmel Frenkel will receive the first delivery of the HP PageWide C500 press, HP became the latest supplier to reach the market with this technology. With the delivery of the digital corrugated press, HP joins the likes of Barberán, EFI, Durst, Xanté and other suppliers that have released single-pass, inkjet solutions for corrugated.
While most of these presses are still in very early stages of adoption, over the past year, the first installations of the technology have demonstrated its potential. Barberán’s Jetmaster series of single-pass inkjet presses have not only been installed at customer sites, but have been in production for several months. Bennett, a corrugated packaging and display printer in Lee’s Summit, Mo., installed the Barberán Jetmaster 1680 in August 2015, becoming the first converter in the United States to add this technology. Not only did Bennett quickly reach production-level printing with the digital corrugated press, it achieved award-winning quality.
Since Bennett added the press, Barberán, which is based in Barcelona, Spain, has expanded its reach in the North American market even further. Attleboro-Mass.-based Abbott-Action entered production with its Barberán Jetmaster 1890 in February.
While Barberán’s single-pass inkjet technology had entered production prior to drupa, multiple presses that were launched at the show have since joined the fray. For example, EFI’s Nozomi C18000 debuted at drupa and according to September press releases from EFI, has gone into production at a European customer, Rafael Hinojosa, S.A. in Spain, and is expected to start production prior to the end of the year in the United States, at Concord, N.C.-based Complete Design & Packaging.
Durst, which is well-known for its inkjet solutions in the label segment, also unveiled a single-pass, inkjet press for corrugated at drupa with its Delta SPC 130. In a May blog post, Durst revealed that it had partnered with Germany-based Schumacher Packaging to field test the digital corrugated press.
Some of the intrigue of these single-pass, direct-to-board, digital corrugated presses that hit the scene at drupa, stemmed from their massive size and fast speeds. But for those converters seeking a smaller-footprint machine at a lower price point, Xanté’s Excelagraphix 4800, which was highlighted at drupa, is more of an entry-level option for single-pass inkjet for corrugated. In a January press release, the director of Kent, U.K.-based C.H. Goddard & Co. detailed how his company has been impressed with the press’s capabilities in short to medium run lengths.
Despite its surprising emergence just over a year ago, the fact that all of these suppliers have entered the market at some level with single-pass, direct-to-board, digital corrugated printing, demonstrates how quickly this technology has developed and the high level of interest from early adopters. With the rise of e-commerce, a need for customization in point-of-purchase displays, and the ability to cost-effectively produce short runs, the opportunities are there for the taking. And now, it’s clear that the technology has arrived to help innovative converters make the most of them.