By Melissa Donovan
Single-pass printing is used in a number of environments, but for corrugated converters, this technology is truly heating up. With a combination of high quality and high speed, single-pass machines are well suited for production facilities to leverage current capabilities with the added benefits of digital. This includes the flexibility to process smaller runs—whether as a test for a client or because a job requires multiple SKUs based on geographical region. In these scenarios, neither print quality nor speed is compromised.
Above: Orora uses an EFI Nozomi C18000 to produce different types of packaging products.
Diving into Digital
Orora Packaging Solutions, Orora Australasia, and Orora Visual form the Orora Group. Orora Packaging Solutions offers full custom packaging design and manufacturing services and has been doing so for more than a decade. At its inception it employed about 2,000 and today staffs 3,500 employees throughout 80 locations in seven countries. This geographically well-placed staff allows the company to serve customers throughout North America as well as in Asia and Europe.
As a corrugated converter manufacturer, Orora offers a range of capabilities including preprint, prepress and art readings, prototypes, six-color printing, double-sided printing, flatbed, rotary die cutting, specialty gluing, bulk bins, triple wall corrugated, lithographic laminate printing, flexographic printing, offset printing, digital printing, fan fold, tear tape, sesame tape, corrugated build ups, string king, stitching, wax coating, fulfillment and kitting, and 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled corrugated.
Offering lithographic laminating, flexography, and offset prior to digital, the team at Orora closely watched digital printing gain traction in its field as a viable printing option. At the time, the company faced a decision—whether to upgrade its lithographic laminating capabilities or dive into digital printing for corrugated.
“We knew digital was going to hold an important place in the print continuum, so we wanted to be a leading provider of state-of-the-art technologies and industry trends,” explains Scott Romagnoli, VP of manufacturing operations, Orora.
It sought out the best press for the job, with many qualifications in mind. “Speed to market, flexibility to experiment with new marketing campaigns without the investment and commitment needed for lithographic laminating or flexography, regionalization opportunities, and increasing creative flexibility,” he shares.
Knowing what digital printing could do in terms of unique advantages, Orora hoped to bring these capabilities to its customers with a new digital press.
Orora was an early adopter of the Scitex CorrJet platform, and when its second machine reached its end of life, it purchased an EFI VUTEk GS3250LX Pro with UltraDrop technology. However, it began evaluating additional equipment about a year into this product acquisition.
While Romagnoli admits that the EFI VUTEk provided the capability to print with white ink and expand on the specialized services it is known for, the Orora team realized that corrugated printing was heading toward single-pass, high-quality, high-speed digital printing.
“Digital has long had the reputation of being specialized or a niche part of a manufacturer’s offerings. High-speed single-pass printing is changing that,” he continues.
As it evaluated single-pass equipment, the company looked at Barberán, EFI, and HP Inc. An important distinction for Orora when looking at the various technologies was that not only would the printer provide a level of quality that would wow customers, but it also do so in a reliable manner. Reliability being the ability to handle corrugated material—which is inherently finicky in nature—as well.
“One of the biggest challenges in post-printing corrugated material is the corrugated material itself. It is a material that has significant thickness and sometimes doesn’t cooperate with the expectations of the machines that need to process it downstream, so the ability to handle material that by definition has variation was a key requirement,” explains Romagnoli.
In 2018 Orora installed two EFI Nozomi C18000 printers—one in its Melbourne, Australia facility and the other in Los Angeles, CA. This was the second machine in the U.S. and the fifth worldwide.
In the Shop
The digital presses are a great fit for Orora, and also complements the company’s traditional finishing equipment in terms of speed. Corrugated board is finished using flat and rotary high-speed die cutters and in some cases flexographic folder gluers if necessary.
“The print process is still a little slower but fast enough to allow product of more commercially appealing quantities. Although single-pass digital printers can be matched up with table-style cutters even the fastest of those using automated feeding/offloading and dual beam cutting will be significantly slower than the single-pass print process,” says Romagnoli.
The creation of a typical packaging product at Orora begins with structural design. Once that is confirmed, a physical sample is created and tested for fit and function. A die line is generated to apply the artwork for the packaging.
After art is applied, a prepress review allows for capturing any potential problems. A soft proof is sent and once approved, a printed sample is produced. If the customer signs off, the project is scheduled for final production.
An original project, from design concept to delivery, generally takes three weeks. Repeat orders often take a week or less. Orora produces final pieces in runs as low as one and as high as 50,000, with an average range of one to five thousand pieces. When produced digitally, the sweet spot is 250 to 20,000 pieces.
Since implementation, the EFI Nozomi C18000 has not been without its challenges. One unexpected hurdle was making the transition from multi- to single-pass printing. “The key for us is EFI’s support and building our body of knowledge around problem solving and the nuances of the machine,” admits Romagnoli.
Orora continues to stay up to date on the newest digital printing technologies and is poised to be a leader in implementing them. Single-pass printing for its corrugated work is a game changer.
Feb2020, Industrial Print Magazine