Web-fed production offers new possibilities with twice the speed and substantial material savings, plus adds new functions
In the constant race for better quality and increased efficiency, many established norms in the Folding Carton production are being challenged. Outside of cigarette carton production, the folding carton industry has been
dominated by sheet-fed technology.
In more recent times more folding carton converters have added web-fed printing capacity, this is further processed on web-fed die-cutters or reel-fed litho laminators.
Web-fed platen die-cutting has been popular in North America for many years, but with increasing Flexo print quality, the emergence of wide width, variable repeat web offset presses and wider digital presses, this production method is creating major interest
in Europe and elsewhere. With better print options and improved efficiencies on the die-cutter, the typical European high-quality shorter runs start to align with web-fed production.
Web Offset Printing Now Available For Folding Carton Production
Web-fed production clearly has established benefits. A web-fed press can run over twice as fast as a sheet-fed press. A web-fed platen cutter can run at 2.5 the speed of a sheet-fed platen cutter. Substantial material savings are achieved by eliminating
the gripper margin and by the flexibility to produce nested carton layouts. Clearly web-fed production requires medium to long run lengths and complex cutting can be limiting, however as web offset printing is now available, far more European converters
will consider this option.
Two New Possibilities For Folding Carton Converters
This expanded thinking covering both sheet and web production has opened two entirely new possibilities.
Firstly: For many years commercial printers have installed roll sheeters in front of their sheet offset presses. Benefits include more reliable feeding and therefore higher press speeds, more material on a reel than on a pallet of sheets, less inventory
as many sheet sizes can be cut from the same roll, cost saving as reels are generally less expensive than sheets.
In more recent times, some established Folding Carton converters have started to explore the option of feeding their presses with rolls instead of sheets. They consider the following benefits:
- Up to three times the material on a reel compared to a pallet of sheets
- One single operation which allows to re-utilize the space and operators from the offline sheeting department or pile turner
- Material cost saving and flexibility as you do not need to know your sheet size when you order the rolls
- More consistent feeding, and therefore higher running speeds
- Real time decurl control
Most importantly the ability to add functions better suited to web production such as digital print heads for product identification or personalization, including cut in register of pre-printed rolls or hologram laminated board.
Secondly: As converters add web-based printing to their portfolio, they naturally look to maximize the benefit. Web-fed platen die-cutters cannot handle some demanding or intricate designs however web print is highly suitable. In this case converters
would be able to take a pre-printed roll and feed it directly to their sheet-fed die-cutter. If necessary, options such as digital printing could be added. The die-cutter would not need to work full time with reels and could switch from roll to sheet
production in a very efficient way.
For sure Folding Carton production is a green, fast growing, and innovative industry. But the thinking that got converters to this point may not be the thinking for the future. In order to stay competitive, to achieve better quality and to increase efficiency,
new ways of thinking are needed. Inline roll sheeters for offset presses or web-fed platen die-cutters that can switch between roll and sheet production from BW Papersystems can help folding carton converters to grow further and stay innovative in