"If you don't use ArtiosCAD for structural design, then you're using second tier technology," emphasizes Tsai. "ArtiosCAD is so mainstream now, if you use anything else people in the industry look at you funny. We use it every day - we take it for granted. If I had to go back to my old software now, I would feel like I lost an arm - it's that important."
ArtiosCAD also works seamlessly with the Kongsberg table; design files are output from the ArtiosCAD workstation to the Kongsberg XL22 for cutting and creasing of structural samples.
An expanding product line
Over the years, K-1's product line has expanded beyond simple folding cartons, to include rigid set-up boxes constructed from a variety of materials--wood, acrylic, foam, leather and suede--for customers that produce luxury goods, cosmetics, skin care products, and very high-end candles. "We've manufactured rigid boxes for Italian leather boots, where the box is made from the same leather used on the boot," says Tsai. "The core of the box is made from compressed fiberboard but the outside is finished in Italian leather."
The Kongsberg XL22's wide range of tools includes one that uses a bit to rout through materials instead of slicing it. "This capability allows us to make samples that require the use of more exotic materials," notes Tsai. "Until we got the Kongsberg table, our samples' cutting process frequently required the use of full-blown steel rule cutting dies because our previous CAD table couldn't cut through the more unusual materials. Now we can produce prototypes for premium packaging faster and more economically with the Kongsberg table."
The Kongsberg XL22 is also used for "spotting" of coating blankets used in offset printing. The Kongsberg XL can cut to precise depths--and in registration with the print layout--making it the perfect tool for the preparation of spot coating blankets.
"Previously we had to cut coating blankets by hand, which meant the printing press had to wait 20-25 minutes while the blanket was being cut," notes Tsai. "The Kongsberg integration with the ArtiosCAD lets us do the cutting offline without tying up the press, while also achieving greater accuracy than we previously could."
Esko's Studio Visualizer, purchased along with the Kongsberg installation, allows K-1 to create realistic digital renderings of designs in 3D space. "Cosmetic companies rely on a lot of specialty finishing techniques such as foil stamping, embossing, UV coating, and metalized foil board to create a visual punch," explains Tsai. "Unfortunately, design programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop cannot simulate the appearance of texture, relief, elevation, and gloss level. Visualizer is a powerful simulation tool that brings the various visual elements of a design to life in virtual space."
K-1's customers can propose several design concepts, create the renderings of each concept by using Visualizer, and submit the renderings to marketing focus groups for evaluation and selection.
Adds Tsai, "Our customers are blown away; Visualizer is something they really embrace, because it makes their job a lot easier. We can create animation that rotates a design in space, so our customers can see the package from all different angles. Ambient lighting conditions can be accounted for; so, for instance, you can see the design under various lighting conditions in a retail environment. Our account managers love it; they have something truly of value to offer our customers."
K-1 Packaging Group, clearly on a growth path, has no intention of standing still. Plans are already in the works to install Esko's Automation Engine to integrate the company's MIS system with its comprehensive suite of Esko packaging technology, bringing further efficiency and productivity to its operation. Tsai's father and uncle would be proud to see how the company they created has thrived, no longer relying on second hand equipment but, instead, on the most advanced technology available.