HP and KBA – transformers for corrugated packaging printing

Digital packaging – corrugated

The HDNA heads that will be used in the T1100 are based on the same A51 thermal inkjet head as is used in the T400

HP is working hard to become the dominant player in the graphic arts industry, and recently announced plans work with KBA on a new digital press. The HP T1100 is a simplex color inkjet engine that prints across a 2.8 metre web. It is intended for preprinting of corrugated top liner material and because this is a digital press, multiple variable data jobs can be ganged for short, mid or long runs. The new press is being developed jointly with work being done both in the US and Germany. It will have a profound impact on the printing industry, and on both KBA and HP.

This press development is the first of its kind. The T1100 will print at up to 183 metres a minute to produce up to 30,000 square metres of liner material an hour. The printed corrugated liner rolls can then be placed directly onto existing industry standard 2.5 or 2.8 metre corrugators.

David Murphy HR
David Murphy, worldwide director of marketing and business development – HP PageWide Web
Press Solutions

HP and KBA announced their plans to work together last year at the Graph Expo show in Chicago, and this joint project is their first announcement since then. The innovation provides a digital preprint solution for all corrugated print applications and it is the first time that digital printing has been implemented for corrugated packaging in this way. Printers will be able to improve supply of last minute inventories for big brands, producing shorter runs suited to fast moving product lines.

The new press will be configured with HP’s A51 printhead, the same head as is used in the T400 and that is the foundation of HP’s new High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA). It will be possible to upgrade the heads in the T1100 to HDNA overtime, as is the case with the rest of the T Series.

The HDNA doubles the number of nozzles in the head for improved quality control. However, there is less of a concern with quality for printing corrugated boxes as converters typically want the inkjet-printed boxes to match the quality of their boxes printed on conventional flexo presses. David Murphy, worldwide director of marketing and business development –HP Page Wide Web Press Solutions, told us that “In some cases, the corrugated converter has told us our T400 Simplex print quality is too high and has asked us to reduce itto better match flexo output.” HP’s plans to upgrade the T1100 to HDNA will obviously depend on customer and market requirements.

David Murphy says that “In addition to improved halftone quality, one of the significant benefits of HDNA heads is the enablement of faster print speed. For example, on the HP T400 platform [pictured], using the Performance Mode in HDNA will increase maximum speed to 800 feet a minute (33% faster than the 600 fpm speed of the current A51 heads).”

The T1100 will be configured with the HP Smart Stream Elite Print Server digital front end (DFE) system which will allow it to print numerous short-runs efficiently. Rather more interesting for the fast-moving packaging market will be the fact that this DFE can deliver a constant stream of variable data at the press’s rated speed. Each part of a printed sheet can be different, without compromising press speed. HP will offer different levels of print servers to meet varying application needs.

HP also claims that this inkjet technology has significant time, material, and shipping cost advantages because digital preprint is more efficient than post-print alternatives. Aurelio Maruggi, HP Inkjet High-speed Production Solutions’s vice president and general manager, reckons, “The new press will transform the short and mid-range corrugated packaging market, dramatically disrupting operating models and costs and more importantly create new value for brand customers.” Christoph Müller, executive vice president for the Web Press Product House at KBA is equally keen and says, “KBA has a rich heritage of developing innovative solutions that meet or exceed customers’ quality expectations. In working with HP, we will combine our complementary technological strengths for the needs of packaging converters.”

The T1100will have limited availability in2016 with plans for broader availability in 2017. Beta sites have yet to be announced but this information will be made available in the coming weeks.

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