Whilst the adoption of the more futuristic smart technologies currently under development viz. inductive inks; printed electronics; augmented reality and near field communications is more likely to be driven by brand owners and retailers via primary packs, the indications are that corrugated RRP could be the next application to be targeted by digital print.
With the much heralded Landa nanographic presses now primarily focusing on folding cartons, there’s a real opportunity for Sun Automation’s CorrStream digital inkjet system to take a lead in the short-run corrugated market, says global product manager (digital) Sean Maloney. ‘Whilst all of the digital activity in this sector has up until now been concentrated on producing point of sale and display material, the CorrStream is the first system to compete head on with flexo in printing corrugated trays for on-shelf usage.
‘On a cost basis, we can meet analog systems in terms of speed, width and substrate; handling print runs of up to around 10,000 off with our wider 66 series machine (1345mm). Even though our ink costs are currently more expensive we gain in terms of not needing plates; reduced set up and down-time.
Poor Image of Retail-Ready
‘Whilst there’s scope for improving the basics of RRP in terms of cost-efficiency: flute specifications; design; pallet heights and double-loading on wagons etc, when it comes to what more can be done to encourage customers to buy from the package itself then that’s where digital’s coming into its own. Corrugated is following in the slip-stream of what’s been happening in say labels and flexibles. What you’re able to do with digital print allows many more options to the brand owner and the retailer; we’re looking forward to enabling box-makers to take full advantage of that. RRP is nowhere near yet where it can be in the future once people introduce digital into their box-plants.’
In addition to the 66 series, CorrStream will be available in two other widths: 783mm; and 557mm (running at 75m / min), which prospective adopters will be able to inspect at first hand when Sun Automation opens its dedicated worldwide demo centre in Bristol this April. In the meantime, Sun Automation is taking letters of intent now, and the first systems are on coursed for commercialisation by the end of the year.
‘We’re going to show customers how to use this equipment from the point they receive the artwork through to the printed sheet. There’s much more to digital than simply turning on a machine and putting a piece of cardboard through,’ says Maloney.
With the average batch quantity printed at an integrated sheet-plant below 6000 off, the CorrStream is being positioned as a single-digit percentage point cost-competitive alternative to conventional print. It does, however, have a further key capability to bring into contention; albeit not yet, he says.
‘Although the opportunity for applying variable data and delivering a customised solution is obviously going to be a big driver in the future, right now all the big corrugated manufacturers are far more focused upon reducing cost and improving margin. All they can see in the current market – and there’s no sign of it going away – is systems running up to 7 or more colours on the back of increased set-up costs because batch quantities are reducing. Supermarkets want more colour and vibrancy in-store.
‘We’ve worked hard to be cost-competitive at the start; we can overlay that with all the advantages of variable data etc in due course. Those attributes that are specific to digital will come into play when the customer is ready.’
For more information regarding the CorrStream Series Printer contact SUN Automation's Global Product Manger Mr. Sean Moloney: Sean.Moloney@SunAutomation.com
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