Domino Unveils the New X630i Digital Press for Corrugated
Despite drupa’s postponement to April of next year, Domino still managed to turn what would have been the event’s opening day into a celebratory occasion for the production inkjet supplier. An established entity in the world of digital label printing, Domino revealed in a virtual event on Tuesday that it would be entering the corrugated segment by introducing the latest single-pass, inkjet, direct-to-board press, the Domino X630i.
To open the event, Sean Smyth, a consultant for print industry research firm Smithers, discussed the opportunities the corrugated segment presents for digital printing. Over the past few years, Smyth said that corrugated packaging has become increasingly consumer facing, as the use of trays and pallet wraps has grown, alongside the rise of e-commerce. This has led to increased demand for full-color corrugated, and a desire for more localized, and personalized production of corrugated packaging.
[Single-pass inkjet] printing has proven to be simpler and gets [printers] closer to the end user and allows them to be more responsive to changing customer demands,” Smyth said. “It has a faster time to market, fewer design limitations for high-quality graphics, and we’re seeing operational benefits. As companies use the technology, they report it frees up time on their flexo machines.”
The Domino X630i, which features aqueous inkjet technology and speeds of up to 246 fpm, will meet the needs of the evolving corrugated industry, explained Matthew Condon, business development manager for Domino. In an industry segment that has long been characterized by brown boxes and minimal decoration, Condon explained that there is an increased need for graphics on packaging, as brands seek to maximize their shelf presence in store, and engage e-commerce consumers.
These factors, combined with the rapid increase in SKU quantities, has led to a need for shorter run, high-graphic production in the corrugated segment, which full-color digital printing solutions are often better equipped for than conventional printing technologies.
“Shorter runs involve more plates, and more changeover on your flexo machines, which equates to a lot more downtime,” Condon said. “What you’re trying to do is manage these new influences from your customer and still trying to remain as productive as possible.”
By implementing digital however, Condon said corrugated printers are creating a more optimized printing environment, where the X630i can tackle the short-run, high-graphic jobs, allowing converters to increase their conventional printing efficiency, by utilizing it for the long-run, high-volume jobs it thrives in.
“When we talk about making flexo more efficient, what we’re really trying to say is that you’re using the right tool for the right job,” Condon said.
Detailing the press’s key features, Condon highlighted its small footprint at 38 feet long by 21 feet wide, which gives converters more flexibility in where they can position the press in their facility. Additionally, he said that all of the digital printing components are fully enclosed within the press, negating the need to position it in a separate room within a print shop.
The press’s feeder, Condon said, is a servo-controlled lead-edge bottom feeder, which provides a high level of control over the sheet entering the press, and allows more material to be added without stopping production. The X630i also features a transfer in and transfer out section that ensure additional stability for the sheet as it passes through the press.
The digital engine at the core of the X630i utilizes Domino’s AQ95 aqueous inks featuring i-Tech PolyM ink technology. The benefits of this ink set, Condon said, are that it gives a semi-gloss appearance on coated material similar to litho lam, while also complying with a variety of food safety ordinances including the Swiss Ordinance, Nestle, and EuPIA.
Though Tuesday’s press conference served as the global launch of the Domino X630i, the company revealed it already has an install destination. Independent II, a corrugated packaging producer in Louisville, Ky., has signed on for an X630i, which will be installed later this year, and Finn MacDonald, the company’s president, joined the broadcast to discuss the company’s decision to add the new digital press.
MacDonald explained that Independent II has always striven to maintain a focus on providing customers with “what they want, when they want, and as they want it.” This mindset of being able to provide just-in-time delivery has led to a mix of work at Independent II ranging from small runs of sample or concept boxes, up to long-run jobs for shippers and e-commerce.
“We say yes to just about everything,” MacDonald said.
Because Independent II has already been contending with this range of work, MacDonald explained that when seeking a digital press to bring on board, the company needed one that could have an immediate impact. While the Domino X630i will open new opportunities for the company, MacDonald said the press will be used right away to take on existing work rather than “aspirational work.”
However, looking forward at the corrugated segment trends driving shorter runs and faster turnarounds, the opportunities that the X630i brings to the company were key in justifying the capital expense. Additionally, MacDonald said the time savings and efficiency of the X630i will improve Independent II’s workflow, leading to cost savings in the current work it plans to transfer to the digital press.
“We’re justifying on this whole ability to deliver product to the market at the speed [customers] demand, to continue to sell them a range of performance and quality options they demand, and to be able to successfully handle that complexity at cost and at the appropriate speed,” MacDonald said. "Thankfully we have customers who are brand driven and they need more color and print performance in their packaging.”