International Paper Board Industry (IPBI) - June 2014
Sun Automation now has complete control of the digital print technology from inks, to the print engine and of course feed and transfer platform. This has been crucial to presenting a solution not only able to ensure the required reliability within the box plant environment but also in utilizing specially formulated water based, digital inks for use on the various substrates convertors currently work with. “By engaging with digital suppliers we have been able to marry their proven technology with our knowledge of material feeding, printing and converting”, explains Sean Moloney, SUN Automation's CorrStream Product Manager, “we are proud to bring a production ready digital solution to the industry that truly addresses the challenges corrugated brings to inkjet and gives box makers a tool that will benefit their bottom line”.
With the launch now well underway it is certainly impressive to see the equipment in full flow at their dedicated Print Centre in Bristol, UK. Housed in a purpose built facility the centre allows visitors to see the Corrstream 20 in action – their narrowest machine of the three in the series – as well as the complete Studio solution that is a key part of the box maker solution. “We are very aware of the leap digital demands of box makers from traditional print methods” explains Sean Moloney, Global Product Manager for Corrstream, “as such we present the complete workflow to visitors so they gain insight into what we offer from receipt of artwork right through to the printed stack”.
SUN are able to demonstrate the simplicity that has been a central requirement to their vision, right from receipt of artwork. While the machine process itself provides new standards in uptime leading to output levels that easily compete with analogue printing, it has always been crucial that Corrstream also allows box makers to regain control of the print process and hence their costs. “The rise of HQPP has been driven by advances in anilox and plate technology over recent years which has allowed box plants to offer excellent print solutions to brand owners and retailers looking to ensure their products stand out on shelf. This innovation however has allowed the anilox and plate makers more influence on the convertors costs at the same time as the vast majority of printed box output has been “dumbed down” as convertors battle with margins”, explains Mr Moloney. “Digital printing on the right platform now allows box plants to regain control, not only of their set up costs but also in working more closely with the end user to ensure artwork and colour is generated in the interests of the customer and the convertor. On top of this, is the opportunity for convertors to seek value from increased colour and variation on industrial outputs of transit and SRP corrugated that up to now have seen the vast majority of output limited to one or two colours”.
It is certainly a view that is attracting interest in the solution. Corrstream is a disruptive technology now working in an industry that is facing a shake up much like that already experienced in labels, carton board and flexible packaging. Allowing the box makers to regain control of the relationship with users has to be a positive – the question is can Corrstream provide the basis for this control?
Working through the process it would seem the team at SUN have worked hard to present a compelling case. “We possess a powerful mix of box making experience and a deep knowledge of the engineering, material handling, substrate and market requirements of corrugated convertors, it has been a fascinating few years as we have molded a hardware platform not only capable of consistently transporting a difficult material under some very sophisticated print technology, but also in developing software and ink that ensure consistency in colour and quality – every sheet, every batch - at very competitive costs per sheet”, says Mr Moloney.
The Print Centre is the ideal space in which this is demonstrated. Visitors are invited to present their own artwork and substrates. The Corrstream team then set about detailing how the process operates to ensure not only maximum print quality but also minimum ink usage, via their innovative Optimised Print Control (OPC) technology. “We utilize drop on demand technology on corrugated substrates for two important reasons”, explains Mr Moloney. “Firstly it is reliable in how it lays down the ink drops accurately, this in turn makes Corrstream’s output speeds reliable with uptime in excess of 95% at speeds over 4000 sheets per hour, secondly it allows us to control ink lay down on the widest gamut with less ink. We can show box plants how this technology provides cost reduction opportunities on existing work within their plants on normal batch quantities, due to increased up time and less ink cost per sheet. That is before you consider the advantages of origination and plate cost saving as convertors go after new margin opportunity”.
Experiencing Corrstream firsthand provides confidence that SUN Automation is now able to present a true production digital print solution to an expectant global corrugated industry. Their centre is proving popular as corrugated convertors begin to take their first steps towards realizing what this technology can do for their current business as well as the potential for a new wave of added value printed corrugated. The coming months and years will be fascinating as this technology begins to take hold on the sector.