Need 100 New Cartons? Come Back in 30 Minutes

So we know that digital printing and finishing has transformed the print industry. But it’s also having an equal impact in packaging. A fascinating demonstration at GRAPH EXPO 2012 married a laser diecutter with a short-run folder-gluer to produce small printed cartons.

The combination showed the transformative power of new technology. You start with digital print, perfect for producing short-run, full-color carton “blanks.” These go into the laser diecutter.

I’m intrigued by these machines. No traditional “die” is needed. You simply load up a vector file, and the system can cut, score, crease and etch the most complex patterns. The laser beam is precisely controlled by mirrors. It’s not super-fast, but speedy enough for short runs. Especially when you consider that you can be ready to go within minutes after the file is loaded.

The diecutter output then goes to the short-run modular folder-gluer. These machines are quick to setup vs. the longer run gluers that offer super high production speeds. In the demo, the final product was golf-ball “sleeve” cartons. These could easily be personalized for firms, clubs or any other organizations.

Now this was not a cheap system, especially when you add the printer, diecutter and folder-gluer together. But for short-run, quick-turnaround work (which can command higher unit prices), this type of total production module would be hard to beat.

I’m certain that this combination demo stirred up a lot of interest at the show, and the two vendors of the components have entered into a strategic alliance to jointly market the machinery. It will be interesting to see how they do, and I will make to sure to follow their progress closely.

Don has worked in technical support, sales, engineering, and management during a career in both the commercial offset and digital finishing sectors. He is the North American representative for IBIS Bindery Systems, Ltd. of The United Kingdom.
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  • skonker

    All of this is great, until you realize you’ve constrained your gluer with a very slow digital press or die cutter. And you can talk about higher unit pricing until your face turns blue, but no one – and I mean no one – is going to pay the prices needed to keep this system dedicated as an all-in-one system. So let’s strip the gluer off of this thing and put whatever we’ve got ready on it.. And so now my digital press is constrained by my die cutter – better make sure I can put other runs on it too so I can pay the nut due at the end of the month. Hmmm. Looks like at the end of the day, I’ve got three separate work centers – but still better that way than one throttling the other – because again, you might find one fellow to fall for the "look how much I’m saving you in carring costs" argument, but you ain’t going to find enough to pay for these machines in 3 years…