Sun Automation has launched three printers; Corrstream 66, 40 and 20, which it claims is the first industrial inkjet printer for corrugated packaging materials.
Sun will have aqueous inks available for Corrstream to print on coated materials by the end of the year, without customers having to make any changes to existing machinery.
Sean Moloney, global product manager, Corrstream, told FoodProductionDaily it can offer a technology called Cut2Print which allows box makers and packing and processing companies to produce or buy high volumes of plain packaging and then print in smaller batch runs to specific print or order quantity requirements.
“We see food and beverage producers using CorrStream prior to their own packing lines aiding reduced packaging costs and giving a shorter supply chain and more flexible technology to brand owners and retailers,” he said.
Corrstream CMYK digital printers go to press in hours in small or large production runs at speeds of up to 8,000 sheets per hour.
“At the moment our inks can only be used on uncoated corrugated papers. Later this year our coated inks are released allowing users of CorrStream to print onto all coated materials without any changes to the print system or handling,” added Moloney.
He said interest in the technology has been phenomenal, with the company’s Corrstream demonstration centre in Bristol booked by potential customers for visits and open days until May.
“Corrstream 66, 40 and 20 use completely different technology and inks to previous models. The inks have been designed to operate on the same print system but can provide gloss finished print on coated papers. No pre or post coating required,” said Moloney.
“No other technology exists on this type of platform. Corrugated packaging has seen increasing demand for variation in structure designs, artwork variations and shorter lead times.
Box Makers under pressure
“This in turn has placed box makers under pressure to demand higher minimum order quantities than the market would like or hold excessive inventory.
“Either way, opportunity is lost and costs build in the supply chain, worse still brand owners and retailers feel limited in being able to fully utilize their packaging for maximum sales.
“Digital print technology solves this as no print plates are required, origination is in hours not days and full colour print can be utilized (most on shelf trays at the moment are one or two colour) in the interests of marketing.”
Moloney claims Corrstream is the first digital application to offer inks more familiar to box plants because theinks are water based, as most analogue inks are in corrugated and its process uses the same material handling methods as box plants are used to i.e ‘We don’t feed one sheet at a time as all other digital printers capable of printing corrugated do at present, we use a typical feeder system with fully automatic, single pass transfer and printed sheet stacking’.
He added further opportunities exist for corrugated to align with increasing digitalization in other packaging media to provide products for brand owner/retailer seasonal or event-based on-shelf promotions that require, for example, short-run or variable print capabilities.
Moloney said the three equipment option sizes provide High Quality Post Print (HQPP) print quality at lower costs on the typical batch sizes now seen at many plants.
“It’s only a matter of time for industrial inkjet to take hold in the graphics market on corrugated,” he added.
“This range of machines and their modular design will future-proof corrugated companies and help them to capitalise on new opportunities, with early adopters sure to benefit as the margins from other print processes come under increasing pressure.
“Label, carton board and flexible (primary) packaging sectors are already well advanced in using digital technology to apply print to their materials. Hence they are already able to commercially and consistently provide shorter lead times, reduced inventory and variable/personalized print i.e for short run promotions or seasonal variations on the same packaging. It is now time for corrugated (secondary) packaging to do the same.”