Protect the contents, communicate brand and product value, win the race to catch the customer's attention at the critical moment in the retail store (at the much-quoted point of sale) – these are just a few of the very diverse requirements that have to be met by top-quality folding cartons. If they are to succeed in all of this, a wide array of finishing techniques is an essential prerequisite alongside exclusive print and precise processing. High-gloss or special-effect coatings, for instance, the application of gold, silver, or special-effect foils and embossing can enhance the sales packaging with distinctive or tactile features.
With traditional, sheet based production, the carton sheet passes through a whole series of machines and processors that carry out the various steps leading up to the finished, separated folding box blanks: printing on a medium or wide-format sheetfed press (usually offset), possibly a second pass for printing on the reverse side depending on the job specification, finishing of the printed and coated carton sheets on an embossing foil press, creasing, scoring, and cutting in a die-cutting unit, and if necessary also stripping, blanking, and stacking in another machine.
Non-stop workflow to finished, high-quality folding carton blanks
Gallus Stanz- und Druckmaschinen, based in Weiden (Germany), has developed a coherent in-line machine concept with a clearly defined objective – to reconcile high-quality folding carton production with maximum efficiency and economy – as its answer to traditional workflows. From the carton roll to the cut and separated blanks, all printing, finishing, and processing steps are integrated in a single, streamlined pass. Compared to step-by-step production comprised of multiple passes and interruptions, this approach offers a host of advantages.
It goes without saying that single-pass production accelerates the entire process enormously and makes it more efficient. Tight customer deadlines and the constraints of modern, just-in-time production strategies are no longer an obstacle. Owing to the continuous production workflow, no extra space is needed to store stacks of paperboard in the intervals between process steps – something that is unavoidable with conventional lines. The manpower and logistics linked to stacking are naturally also economized.
By definition, roll based in-line production eliminates the need to feed and insert the carton sheets several times. Make-ready waste is consequently also a thing of the past. Paperboard waste in general is reduced to a minimum as a result of the in-line principle. Roll processing allows the folding carton blanks to be nested more or less "endlessly" on the substrate. In contrast to sheet based production, there is no waste due to gripper margins or blanks that cannot be completely placed at the edges. Utilization of material is optimized, leading to lower costs.
Many experts may be asking whether the inevitable outcome of this seamless chain of printing, finishing, and cutting in one line will be to put folding carton production in a kind of straitjacket. In fact, the opposite is true, as Gallus' in-line machine concept proves. A modular system solution based on a universal EVA (Easy Value Add) platform lends exceptional flexibility to production and processes alike. Mulitiple processes and printing techniques can be integrated in this platform as modules. A broad range of printing and finishing modules are offered by Gallus for this purpose. At the same time, the open architecture allows the machine system to grow in the future as and when necessary. New market trends and changing customer requirements can be responded to without any problems. Together with the rock solid construction and sophisticated design features, this openness makes the Gallus machine solution a safe and viable investment.
The Gallus in-line machine system enables different printing processes, finishing methods, creasing, embossing, and cutting to be combined in a single line. Each system can be fine-tuned to the customer's individual requirements, from the unwinding station to the in-line flat-bed die-cutter.
It doesn't always have to be offset
Which the Galus ICS 670 the press manufacturer focused on the high end of the market. Gallus trusts in exceptional quality of HiDef flexo printing with UV inks as the mainstream printing method, and the in-line system will be enhanced with a completely new, easy-to-use gravure unit to be introduced at Drupa 2012. As far as finishing techniques are concerned, modules can be supplied for laminating, cold foiling, rotary hot foil embossing (hot foiling and stamping), and rotary screen printing. Thanks to the EVA concept, HiDef flexo printing™ and finishing modules can be alternated on one and the same platform, depending on the job specification. The process can be changed over in a few minutes without any tools. Special module carts and quick-release couplings for umbilicals make light work of swapping the modules, which can of course be prepared offline in the midst of normal production. These and other smart solutions to support rapid job changeovers reduce make-ready times and waste to a minimum while maximizing production flexibility.
All in all, the in-line concept allows high-end folding cartons with a variety of effects to be produced extremely efficiently in a single pass – with up to seventy percent fewer staff compared to conventional, sheet based processes.
Gallus will demonstrate in-line folding carton production live at Drupa 2012 (Hall 2, Stand A45) on the newest generation of its Gallus ICS 670 in-line machine system.