Another California printer, K&D Graphics, has been in the packaging market for eight years. Last December, CEO Don Chew installed a 16-unit XL 105 perfector to boost his family-owned, Orange, Calif. firm’s overall packaging capabilities. Chew originally specified the unique configuration in 2003, and it took more than five years to realize his “dream press.” K&D’s XL 105 features 12 printing units with multiple coating units, drying units and a perfector. In one pass, the press prints six colors and coats on both sides of the sheet. It features an optional CutStar feeder that can switch from roll-fed to sheetfed mode at the push of a button.
The commercial printing and paperboard packaging production company hopes to have more opportunities for complex jobs including double-coating, perfecting in one pass and producing plastic and other packaging materials. “We designed the press with UV capability as a foray into the high-end packaging market,” Chew noted.
K&D replaced a smaller model six-color press with the XL 105. Earlier this year, “we ran a 700,000-sheet job in five days that would have taken us three weeks on the old press,” he said.
Two Years of History
Fong Brothers Printing of Brisbane, Calif., has a bit more history when it comes to beefing up its print line with packaging. The $24 million commercial printer added packaging and folding cartons printed on heavier board to its portfolio in mid-2007 with the addition of six-color, 40-inch Mitsubishi Diamond 3000LX sheetfed press.
With a reputation for catering to corporate clients and ad agencies with short-run brochures, flyers and marketing materials, President Tony Fong said the Diamond 3000LX allows the firm to print regular commercial projects while providing greater flexibility for carton printing. “We print a lot of product boxes for the technology industry,” noted Fong. “This press … provides greater flexibility in the types and sturdiness of cartons the company can produce.” The 3000XL handles stock ranging from 0.002 inches to 0.040 inches, including paper, board, and synthetic substrates. (Prior to this installation, Fong Brothers typically produced small to medium-run packaging on substrates up to 24-point.)
Founded in 1971, Fong Brothers today employs some 200 people and operates two production facilities in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as a printing and graphic systems distribution firm in China. The company’s comprehensive sheetfed and web presses cover the spectrum of printing needs from one to eight colors, also offering inline aqueous and off-line UV coating capabilities.
Digitally Printed Packaging
Going digital might be a more economical and easier way for commercial printers to get into the packaging space. Fourteen months ago, Xerox and Stora Enso introduced a solution for the pharmaceutical market that helps print providers and packaging converters deliver personalized cartons and other packages in short runs. For example, the solution can print a box with variable security codes or with personalized instructions based on a patient’s medical needs.
More recently, Traco Manufacturing, Orem, Utah, said it is the first company to focus exclusively on digitally printed shrink sleeves via an HP Indigo press ws4500. Preferential shrink film is converted to custom sleeves for easily recognized tamper-evidence. Also known as custom cut sleeves, tamper-evident sleeves, sleeve tubing, full body sleeves, printed sleeves, clear sleeves and multipack sleeves, shrink sleeves are intended for removal after purchase—unlike labels.
Prior to installing the digital press, Traco offered printed shrink sleeves and film produced overseas using rotogravure technology. The firm decided to install the Indigo based on increased customer demand for faster turn times, customized text and images and shorter run lengths. A new digital workflow has helped Traco reduce expenses by eliminating the high cost of cylinder plates and air freight.
“The HP Indigo press ws4500 has allowed us to better serve existing customers and capture new business opportunities with the ability to present unique shrink sleeve solutions to customers,” said John Palica, president of Traco. “In the past, we were limited to long run lengths and static printing processes. Now, we can meet the demand for shorter run lengths and variable-data printing.”
With the installation of the HP Indigo press, Traco completed a project for Nuriche, a manufacturer and supplier of nutritional products, which included the production of three shrink sleeve designs in quantities of 5,000 and 2,000. With the new press, Traco was able to deliver the job in five days with quality superior to that found in gravure printing.