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U.K. Printer Begins Production On High-Speed Digital Press For Corrugated Packaging

Press release from the issuing company

WATFORD, U.K. – (Dec. 8, 2005) – Sun Chemical Digital, a recently created division of Sun Chemical, has announced installation of the first digital high-speed printer for corrugated packaging at Jardin Corrugated Cases in Ely, U.K. The press, which is called FastJet, is the fastest digital press available. It can produce up to 6000m2 board printed in four colors with a spot varnish at a resolution of 300dpi. The targeted market is transport boxes with display function. FastJet has been developed together with Inca Digital, Printers. It is a single-pass printer with 480 print heads fixed in stationary arrays which are 1040mm wide. The board makes a single pass under the print head array and emerges fully printed. FastJet offers all the advantages of digital printing, such as personalized images, mass customization, lower costs on short runs and virtually no variation in printing. The inks are UV ink jet inks made by Sun Chemical's SunJet. These inks were developed specifically for this application to avoid nozzle drops and to achieve full cure at very high speed. The press installed at Jardin Corrugated Cases is a prototype for testing the reliability of the technology in an industrial environment. However, Kevin Hennessy, managing director of Jardin, plans to immediately use the press for regular production. He says the first orders already are being processed, and one job was produced before the printer was shipped from Inca. “Many of the prints we have seen are of superb quality and we have already produced images that can even be used as displays,” he explained. Digital single pass printing in 1040mm width at a 100m linear speed is a technological revolution. But Heather Kendle, marketing director at Inca, says it has always been the company's business objective to produce single-pass printers. Consequently, many of the components and designs integrated in FastJet have already been tested in other Inca products. “The testing over three months at Inca has been so successful that we have begun building a second machine,” she said. Sun Chemical plans the first installation of commercial digital presses at the end of 2006 in Europe and North America. They will cost about €2.5 million, which is comparable to the price of a multicolor flexographic press. Stefan Slembrouck, director digital packaging solutions, explains: “Sun Chemical will offer each potential customer a calculation scheme to help compare the cost of digital versus flexo or offset printing.” The calculated cross-over points are at 1,500m2 to 2,500m2, depending on how often flexo plates are normally used. “This will make it a very interesting economic alternative for many print jobs since the average print run in the corrugated industry has dropped below 3,000m2,” he added. Since there are no costs preparing films and plates, any interested customer can place orders at Jardin and introduce samples or sell digitally printed boxes to promote the advantages of digital printing before deciding to buy a FastJet printer. It also can be used to easily make design changes in packaging prototypes. “With FastJet, we have produced the first industrial digital printer for packaging, and market responses are very encouraging,” Slembrouck said.