HP & KBA Pave the Way for Digital Printing of Corrugated Packaging

HP and KBA have developed a version of the HP PageWide digital inkjet printing technology for high volume packaging production.

There has been a lot of talk about the corrugated market, which is in the sights of several digital press manufacturers. They are keen to claim a new sector, to cash in on what they see as the next golden opportunity for digital printing. There are plenty of reasons why these manufacturers are right in their enthusiasm. One of the biggest is that cardboard boxes are a mouthwateringly visible ad platform.

For brand owners packaging is a proven means of getting the name out and for converters it is an opportunity to sell more ink on substrate. Digital press technology can be used to preprint coated and uncoated liners and be configured to maximise corrugator capacity. Digital workflow technology can support multilane printing, with two jobs with different box sizes and run lengths printed side by side, so that different jobs can be run simultaneously with no makeready between jobs. But how quickly the corrugated market embraces digital printing depends on the rate at which existing supply chains collapse.

What also makes this sector attractive for digital press manufacturers is the fact that conventionally printing the liner for a cardboard box is relatively slow and expensive. Consolidating this supply chain into a single process saves money and time, and provides brand owners with unprecedented content flexibility. It could even open up new business models, if we throw a bit of variable data into the mix. Arguments for digital packaging printing are basically the same as for other applications however, there is another big plus: inventory management, supply optimisation and campaigns testing. HP sees immense possibilities for preprint plants, hybrid plants, sheet plants, and box printing plants.

HP & KBA together
HP is in partnership with KBA to tackle the corrugated sector. HP’s somewhat dissolute approach to its industry relationships gives it considerable experience when it comes to partnering. KBA is about as traditional a conventional press manufacturer as you could find. The company is the second largest press manufacturer in the world after Heidelberg. It invented the rotary press in the 1860s and introduced its first four colour press in 1914. Today it produces sheet and web offset presses, as well as presses for printing glass, metal, flexible and rigid packaging, banknotes (85% of banknotes are printed on KBA presses), mailing and coding machines, direct to shape and newspapers.

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