At CCE in March in Munich I hosted a panel discussion on the development and challenges of introducing inkjet into the corrugated sector. In this blog, we interview Oliver Baar who sat on the panel. Oliver is the Head of Division Business Development & Marketing bei Koenig Bauer AG - Digital & Web Solutions and he shares his views on inkjet and corrugated.
Oliver, what is your background?
I am 33 years in graphic arts. Once an apprenticeship as a pre-press manager. I joined Fujifilm in 1992 as an application specialist and progressed from the first level to third level support. Then I became manager of the European demo centre, and in 2004 started in the end for a digital project to be the bridgehead of digital printing at Fujifilm Europe. In my role as marketing manager for POD products, I was responsible for marketing and sales of this product range.
In 2008, I left Fujifilm and joined HP as business development manager for Indigo and inkjet web press for the direct mail, publishing and transactional market.
I was always involved in business development and not purely sales. In 2012, I got the chance to join Koenig & Bauer to lead the digital web press project within Koenig & Bauer. We introduced the RotaJET during Drupa 2012 – and focused on the book & publications – however, we discovered industrial markets like digital décor printing pretty soon. We use RotaJET base technology for the other digital print products to apply in new markets.
For decor, Koenig & Bauer concentrates on the decorpaper market. We recently announced the sale of two décor presss with web widths up to 225cm and a press speed up to 135m/min.
Thus the press design of our RotaJET VL suits for packaging applications very well, we could announce a press deal to TetraPak earlier this year.
Koenig & Bauer sees high potential for the RotaJET VL Press in the packaging market.
Is packaging an important market for Koenig & Bauer?
Yes! Koenig & Bauer is strongly focused on packaging. In fact, we are well on our way to the one stop shop for packaging. We print almost on every kind of substrate. . We have , offset printing, flexo on film, and flexo postpress, folder gluers, die cutters, digital printing complementary nearly in all of our conventional applications - in fact, we are the only company in the world who can print onto an array of different applications including a bottle with a metal cap a packaging shrink sleeve, carton box, and into a corrugated box and also marking and coding. , ‘Because of this, we can combine both technologies that work bet for our customer - so we can solve the entire range of issues.
What is the strategy?
The strategy to provide both analogue and digital for every possible application in packaging. We don’t have to convince a customer that digital is the only way because we also have analogue. If a digital offers better value it is something then we sell it, but if it doesn’t then analogue is fine and this is OK for a brand such as Koenig & Bauer.
How did CorruJET come about?
We evaluated the corrugated market and were aware of others, who were already making progress. We directly worked with the HP on the HP-1100S project. Koenig & Bauer designed and build the press around the HP ink, head and workflow concept – which resulted in a very good collaboration between HP and us.
Apart from this we had been encouraged by customers to re-enter the flexo postprint market - so we had the idea to build a successor of the CorruGraph and then we announced in 2016 that Koenig & Bauer will be back in the corrugated market with the conventional flexo based presses CorruCUT and CorruFLEX.
Along of our strategy, we also decided to build our digtal post printer for corrugated– the CorruJET
The HP C500 and CorruJET compete - concerning the pre-print market - we collaborate. It is a little unique to be collaborating and competing with the same company but that is the nature of digital printing.
What was the vision for CorruJET? What is special and different?
Firstly, we thought about the production processes in the corrugated market – the clients want hard edge feeding of the board on the way to the press and almost to all converting equipment. . The CoruJET complies to this rules – which makes a big difference. Because of this, we have the way better board handling. By hard edge feeding, we maintain the processes and principles of this industry. Many other digital printing presses in the market tend to print portrait.
What kind of size?
The print is 170cm – and we consider 210cm- in landscape direction. This is better and achieves a better registration on the edge. This is one of the major reasons we have a wide press. For speed we target 6000 boards per hour - this offers higher productivity than competitors.
What other elements are unique?
We print with a water-based ink as well and this is really important for packaging. Water based ink offers our customers open a wider range of business opportunities. This ink technology is much more environmental friendly than others – especially regarding food approval. Industry
From a print quality point of view - we step into the market with the Fuji-Dimatix Samba head with 1200 dpi. We have 2 settings and offer two modes – a 1200x1200DPI high quality mode – as well as the 1200X600DPI high productivity mode. So we have a great machine. We may not be the first but we have water based ink and we have designed something, which we think works best in corrugated.
Is there an example of a customer using the technology?
We have an installed base of RotaJET - and one for the first CorruJET with our beta partner Kolb – based in Germany.
How will it work collaborating with Durst?
We are on the way to form a JV mostly about the market for folding cartons. This JV will also be about the CorruJET as well as the Durst SPC. But existing products will retain their name and will follow their already fixed development plan. We are excited about the JV as it will merge the best elements of both businesses to create some really excellent digital folding carton printing market .
In your view, what are the challenges for inkjet in corrugated?
The corrugated market is on one hand price focused and conservative and we are now seeing the first presses going in. The Chasm is certainly beginning the be crossed - but people are watching how to succeed. Now it is time to prove the advantages of digital corrugated postprint – in the markets and applications where it fits best. We are convinced that digital will fly! From an isolated press perspective, it is more expensive to print digital. But we have to take processes upstream and downstream also in account. I am convinced digital post press for corrugated will work.
Digital will enable our clients to shorten or replace processes. Apart from that, end users desire for shorter run lengths, on demand production and higher product diversification will propel and push digital in these markets.
We see a lot of similarities between a bit more mature digital markets and the corrugated industry. In many markets, inket production systems gain share and complement traditional production methods.
We are convinced, that digital printing will develop similar in the corrugated industry. So in this case, inkjet is not revolutionary technology, it is evolutionary moving constantly to higher and higher volumes.
The good thing is – the corrugated market still grows!
This is the reason, why Koenig & Bauer made the decision, to enter the market with an hybrid approach – providing the digital CorruJET – and the flexo based CorruCUT and CorruFLEX
Will digital replace analogue in your view?
As mentioned above, it will develop similar to other digital printing markets . Digital will not be disruptive - it is evolutionary. We will see a higher diversification in production methods. Short and highly diversified runlengh will go digital – long runs will remain cost efficient in flexo postpress. The intelligent combination of both production method will help to make our customers successful.
I am not saying this because we offer analogue printing technology, too! Koenig & Bauer will make the flexo based CorruCUT and CurruFLEX very efficient – but digital will keep its digital advantage and will develop further. So, digital will play a role and will become bigger but will not be a replacement technology.
A final word to the corrugated industry?
Be open and fair with the calculation to yourself and to us!