By Olivia Cahoon
Digital finishing solutions save time, cut costs, and are equipped to manage a range of media. Corrugated board is a thick, dense material that requires durable knives to properly finish. Print providers working with corrugated board benefit from digital finishing solutions’ robust handling capabilities.
Founded in 1981 by Dave Hill and business partner, Dave Taylor, The BoxMaker offers custom package printing and shipping services. The print service provider (PSP) focuses on creating meaningful client experiences through innovation, entrepreneurship, and integrated products and services. The company divides its services into five divisions—custom boxes, supplies, labels and tags, foam, and fulfillment.
The BoxMaker started as a brown box plant in a 12,000 square foot facility in Renton, WA. With a handful of employees, the shop soon expanded to supplies in 1984, labels in 1990, foam in 1992, and fulfillment and co-packing services in 2008.
In 1987 the headquarters moved to Kent, WA, and soon branches popped up throughout OR and WA. The BoxMaker now employs over 160 coworkers in over six locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Its main WA office includes 170,000 square feet in two buildings and an additional 85,000 square feet of warehousing and sales support.
The company expands into national brands to serve all regions of Canada and the U.S. “In 2015, we launched Fantastapack.com, a website brand offering a web to print (W2P) automated digital workflow for graphic packaging that takes full advantage of our digital print and cutting capabilities,” says Daniel Dixon, operational excellence director, The BoxMaker.
With the adoption of its first wide format digital press in 2011, the PSP began offering digital print for packaging. Currently, the shop uses an HP, Inc. Scitex 17000 Corrugated Press and the HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press, both were installed in 2016.
The HP Indigo WS6800 produces a maximum of 40 meters per minute with seven color support and handles a maximum of 13.39 inches. Its inline spectrophotometer uses closed loop control to simplify color matching and color consistency requirements. HP Indigo presses use HP PrintOS operating systems to access the open and secure cloud-based platform from any location for managing jobs from submission to shipment.
The HP Scitex 17000 targets short- and medium-run production and prints on warped corrugated boards to keep media flat for productivity. It handles corrugated boards of all flute types, up to 63×126 inches, and prints up to four sheets simultaneously. With four colors and eight channels, the HP Scitex 17000 uses HP Scitex High Dynamic Range (HDR) printing technology.
HDR controls precision of color and tone for image detail clarity. It includes 16 gray levels for image shading and precision dot placement for sharp and clear text, barcodes, and graphics.
Cutting Biodegradable Boxes
Producing custom boxes is The BoxMaker’s first and longest running specialty. The company digitally prints in various flutes, colors, and weights—specified for a multitude of industries from specialty foods to medical devices.
The PSP’s corrugated boxes and packages are made from curbside recyclable and biodegradable products. Paper is primarily produced on the West Coast and corrugated material is produced in the region of Puget Sound, WA.
Each order matches the exact client specifications and is delivered within five to ten business days of purchase order.
As digital wide format print technology continues to advance in the corrugated field, there is a constant demand for cutting and finishing equipment to maintain high production speeds.
The shop uses the Zünd D3, installed in mid-2016, as its primary digital finishing solution. The Zünd D3 features a double beam system capable of holding up to three different modules. The cutter controller allocates the jobs between the two beams for high productivity.
According to Dixon, “the enhanced productivity made possible by the dual beam system helps solve the production bottleneck that we previously experienced.”
A universal cutting tool through cuts materials up to five millimeters thick with drag knives. The electric oscillating tool is suited for softer, medium density materials like rubber, leather, and carton. Several tools handle graphics, packaging, textiles, composite, and specialty materials like sponge rubber and medical products. The Zünd D3’s maximum work area is 126×126 inches.
“We chose it for its dual head cutting capability, speed, and efficiency,” explains Dixon. He credits the Zünd D3’s speed, flexibility, and no tooling costs or die storage to its ability to meet market demands. However, for high-volume orders, he says that the shop may choose traditional die cutting rather than CAD cutting.
The BoxMaker’s online e-commerce brand, Fantastapack.com, was recently approached by Toyota for a marketing project. Toyota requested its brand and slogan be displayed on 50 boxes. The boxes were printed on 32 edge crush test (ECT) e-flute corrugated with white outside liner. E-flute is commonly used for graphic reproduction because of its cushioning and slimness. E-flute applications include glass, ceramic, medical, cosmetic, point of purchase boxes, and high-end graphic displays.
The BoxMaker used the HP Scitex 17000 to print the artwork, Caldera RIP software to create the structure file, and the Zünd D3 for finishing. “All three allow for streamlined efficiencies in manufacturing to complement the automated W2P e-commerce engine of our Fantastapack.com brand, with the ability to process many orders daily,” says Dixon.
The job was completed within ten days with 50 pieces totaling 406.6 square feet. The boxes include a matte finish.
Dixon describes the finished application as a beautifully printed client-facing carton box designed for marketing purposes. He found no challenges associated with the job and said the process from die-line creation to packaging and shipping was flawless.
“This job for Toyota is representative of the many W2P corrugated jobs we manufacture daily. The beauty of the finished product is a function of the client’s artwork and our digital print process. Our digital print production equipment allows our clients to achieve short-run projects and longer runs with speed and cost efficiency,” continues Dixon.
Finishing for the Outdoors
B4 Adventure offers a variety of outdoor products that encourage recreational activities for family members of all ages. The company recently approached The BoxMaker with a structural design from overseas to be produced domestically in small quantities for test market sales. The designs were created for high graphic printing to be displayed as ready cartons on retail shelving.
The BoxMaker printed the designs on 32 ECT b-flute corrugated. B-flute is commonly used for die-cut boxes and is made with additional paper to provide strong protection. The boxes were finished with gloss on white corrugated liner.
The shop used the HP Scitex 17000 to print and the Zünd D3 table for cutting. Dixon says, “our equipment was ideal for this project because it had high-end graphics and specific needs for accurate cutting registration.”
The greatest challenge was that the original structure file was designed for a different paper thickness and for manufacturing equipment overseas. “We had a baseline to start with, but the file required significant modifications to perform up to the client’s expectations and run effectively on our machinery,” he shares.
The B4 Adventure job took two weeks to complete and totaled 425.3 square feet and 50 pieces. Overall, the company was pleased with the boxes and the quality.
According to Dixon, “the high-end graphics and gloss finish demonstrate the refined capabilities of digitally printed corrugated cartons. The print rivals high end—and more expensive—litho-laminate cartons.”
Digital finishing equipment is expected to meet and exceed print providers’ precision and efficiency demands. As it evolves to handle complex substrates at faster speeds, print providers like The BoxMaker take notice. “we continue to plan for additions to our cutting systems as we increase our output generated by digital print, our fastest growing market segment,” concludes Dixon
May2017, Industrial Print Magazine
Print Outside the Box