Heidelberg introduces digital integration innovations

Digital integration automates folding carton production

The Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor with multicolour technology offers an interesting package for packaging printers

The trends in packaging printing are obvious – ever-declining run lengths, an ever-increasing number of stock-keeping units and more demanding embellishments are used in order to attract attention at the point of sale, and all of this against the backdrop of extremely short delivery times and sustainability. Special applications and the need for flawless production add to the complexity. How can folding carton manufacturers manage this in a cost-effective way? How can they fully exploit the potential of their machines and achieve transparent and repeatable production? Heidelberg presented its innovations at an event in October of this year to answer these questions.

The growth market of packaging and especially folding carton manufacturing are part of our core business. Our product portfolio is leading the industry, and we are introducing innovations to further enhance it based on our customers’ demands. The optimization of folding carton manufacturing for the benefit of our customers is an integral part of our company strategy,” confirms Jörg Dähnhardt, head of the folding carton segment at Heidelberg.

Heidelberg offers innovative and customized solutions for converting operations – from job creation all the way to the finished folding carton. The Prinect workflow connects the various machines and processes and allows navigated folding carton production, or, in the ideal case, even autonomous production.

Innovations for Speedmaster presses

Speedmaster CX 102 boasts innovative solutions from the peak performance class, including the new operating concept. The Speedmaster CX 102 from the new 2020 generation combines flexibility with navigated printing. With over 50,000 printing units sold, the Speedmaster CD/CX presses are the most successful press series on the market and perfect for packaging printing.

The Wallscreen XL guides the operator through the individual processes. With Intellistart 3, up to 50 upcoming job changes can be prepared on the press while production is underway. Intelliguide navigates the operator through the complete job change and always selects the fastest makeready process. Intelliline visualizes the process phase at the individual printing and coating units and indicates when and where manual intervention is required. Assistance systems like Color Assistant Pro and Wash Assistant use artificial intelligence for continuous improvement.

Good sheet production starts as quickly as possible thanks to precise ink presetting and an intelligent selection of the most suitable washup programs. This reduces paper waste and costs. With Intellirun, the relevant production information is shown at the right time fully automatically on the Wallscreen throughout the production run. Data feedback to the Prinect Production Workflow allows precise reporting for each individual job, including quality documentation.

Autonomous printing with standardization

The Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor with multicolor technology offers an interesting bundle for packaging printers tackling digital production run lengths. With Anicolor technology the good sheet is reached very quickly, thanks to fast inking by the format-size screen roller. The inking unit design ensures an even ink application across the entire sheet and the entire run. By using seven colors – the four process colors plus orange, green, and violet – the Multicolor technology can reproduce a very high number of spot colors. This cuts the time for job changes down since it is no longer necessary to change spot colors. Multicolor also opens the door for autonomous printing with Push to Stop in packaging printing as well.

New standards in industrial packaging printing

The Speedmaster XL106 systematically reduces touch points and relieves the operator of routine tasks, thereby significantly increasing efficiency.

The Wash Assistant selects the most suitable wash-up program by taking into account the differences in brightness of consecutive inks in the same unit. Especially in folding carton production with its many spot colors, this reduces makeready times significantly. The Wash Assistant also reduces consumption of wash-up solution.

CodeStar at the feeder ensures full traceability throughout production. It marks each sheet with a unique number, barcode or batch number so it can be identified again at any time during production.

Hycolor Pro is the Speedmaster XL 106’s automated dampening system. The dampening solution is metered between pan roller and metering roller. The pressure/squeeze required for this purpose can now, for the first time, be controlled from the Prinect Press Center. The printer can address dampening issues on either side of the sheet. This results in fewer waste sheets at start-up and a more stable production run.

Eye-catching wow effects for point of sale

Eye-catching metallic effects can be achieved in one pass with the FoilStar cold foil module. The most economical way of applying cold foil is using indexing and multi-reel capability. Foil consumption can be reduced by up to 80%. The cold foil can be partially overprinted to produce a wide range of metallic and color effects. All in all, this is a more sustainable solution than foil-laminated cardboard, which also can have long lead times.

Fully integrated workflow with new MIS concept

From summer 2021, Prinect Business Manager Packaging will be launched specifically for packaging printing. Together with the Prinect Production Manager and the tailored packaging add-ons, the result will be a fully integrated packaging workflow. Job data, presetting or repeat job data for the Speedmaster, and printing plate handling will be linked in an automated process, thereby reducing makeready and downtimes. The integration of postpress will also be possible.

World premiere: new Mastermatrix 106 CSB die cutter

The event attendees witnessed the world premiere of the new Mastermatrix 106 CSB – the new die-cutter from MK Masterwork and Heidelberg with a production speed of up to 9,000 sheets per hour. The machine is designed for high speed and fast makeready times.

The Mastermatrix is integrated in the Prinect workflow. Job-specific data is received at the die-cutter from Prinect. Data such as the sheet format is transferred and – after confirmation by the operator – the MasterFeeder sets itself automatically to the sheet format without further manual intervention.

During production, the MasterSet optical register system ensures perfect registration between the print image and cutting tool for each sheet individually with the utmost precision. The camdrive of the Mastermatrix ensures smooth and quiet production.

Two other new die cutters were launched earlier this year to complete the portfolio – the Powermatrix 106 CSB and Promatrix 145 CSB.

For short runs in packaging and commercial printing the Digimatrix line will be added in future – the Digimatrix 80 LR and the Digimatrix 106 LR. These digital die-cutters are integrated in the Prinect workflow and employ laser cutting technology; they are currently scheduled for launch in 2021. Both machines provide the option of an inline rotary creasing station and achieve speeds of up to 3,000 sheets per hour.

Reporting and analysis of production data

With the web-based Prinect Portal, the jobs in progress on a connected die-cutter can be tracked on a smart device in real-time while production is still underway. After the job is completed, the production data is available for reporting and an analysis of short-term and long-term trends is possible. “Efficient folding carton production is part of our core business – yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” confirms Jörg Dähnhardt. “We show that digitized processes now extend include postpress, and we will continue to develop this further.”

Folder gluers with new functions

Heidelberg offers four series of the MK Masterwork Diana folder gluers. New features and options were added for each series.

The Diana Smart is now available with a high-speed package, allowing it to run up to 33 percent faster at up to 600 m/min.

The second generation of the Diana Braille unit now offers an option for cross adjustment of the braille tools. The positions of the upper and lower tools are shown on a digital indicator – this shortens each makeready process by several minutes.

The new Diana Inspector can inspect a wide range of substrates, including difficult materials such as metalized cardboard, holograms, or hot foil applications for printing defects and color consistency. The Diana Inspector features a PDF comparison function, which increases user-friendliness and significantly reduces the setup time, as many settings can already be prepared in prepress. The Diana Inspector is available for the Diana Smart and Diana Easy series.

A folder gluer can only run as fast as cartons can be packed. The digital integration of the new Diana Packer 4.0 helps during automated packing in outer cartons. For the first time, communication between the folder gluer and the Diana Packer 4.0 ensures that carton geometries only have to be entered once – the second entry on the packer previously required is no longer necessary. This shortens overall setup times. New options include an automated tie-sheet inserter and integration of a carton erector. Once a case is filled with cartons it has to be closed, labeled and palletized – all processes that can now be supplied from Heidelberg and MK Masterwork.

The successful partnership between Heidelberg and MK Masterwork offers a complete portfolio for folding carton production. Heidelberg has already sold more than 500 MK machines since the start of the partnership in 2016. The relationship was further strengthened in 2019, with MK Masterwork becoming a long-term, strategic anchor shareholder in Heidelberg with a shareholding of around 8.5%.

The packaging market will continue to grow in importance for Heidelberg. Folding carton manufacturing requires peak performance of our machines and solutions. Thanks to digital integration, we unlock completely new optimization potential along the entire process chain – for the benefit of our folding carton customers worldwide,” sums up Jörg Dähnhardt.

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The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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