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Archive for the ‘Digital Finishing’ Category

Commercial Printing: Digital Die Cutting and Creasing

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

A friend and business associate sent me a press release today entitled “mori and Highcon Announce Strategic Business Partnership” (02/04/16, by mori and Highcon).

According to the press release, “Komori will be selling and supporting the Highcon™ Euclid digital cutting and creasing solutions in the Japanese market. This partnership is a key step in Komori’s strategy to provide comprehensive solutions to their customers, covering both analog and digital workflows, and spanning printing and finishing alike.”

The Backstory

I find this exciting for these reasons:

  1. Prior to the advent of digital finishing, jobs that had been digitally produced on laser or inkjet equipment still had to go through analog finishing processes. As Highcon described the implications on its website, this not only slowed down the commercial printing schedule, but it also required “highly skilled employees, high expenses, and a time-consuming, complex supply chain.”
  2. In addition to folding and trimming (usually done in-house), finishing often included die cutting. And die cutting usually necessitated subcontracting (since it was not economically feasible for many custom printing shops to own die cutting equipment). In addition, dies often had to be remade to correct errors, driving prices even higher. And in most cases the dies had to be stored after being used (to accommodate possible reprints).
  3. The advent of digital finishing will make most of these problems disappear. The bottlenecks will cease since no outside services will be needed. There will be no need to make or store metal dies, so costs will drop and storage issues will disappear. And the whole process will proceed faster than analog finishing.

The Technical Side

Basically, the digital process involves cutting and creasing printed press sheets using lasers run by digital information from computer consoles. So there are no metal dies to be made. All die cutting work occurs in-line.

Here’s Highcon’s description of the technology and it’s specific attributes:

“The machine combines the patented DART technology to create the digital crease lines, with a unique high speed and high quality laser cutting solution. The machines handle sheets up to a maximum 760mm x 1060mm (30” x 42”), enabling output from both conventional and digital presses. [The machine supports] label and paperboard thicknesses from 0.2mm to 0.6mm (8-24 pt.), and N & F microflute up to 1.2mm (47 pt.)”

Why This Is Important

Consumers and businesses want shorter and shorter print runs now. They also want jobs delivered more quickly. According to Highcon’s website, “…from the client perspective, market segmentation, whether by region, language, season, age or gender, requires ever shorter print or packaging runs but at an even more demanding pace. Time to market is critical while the product lifetime gets continually shorter.”

According to Highcon, the Euclid II+ can do intricate, detailed cutting work. What this means is that no quality is lost in the transition from metal dies to digital laser cutting. The laser cutting system can actually do jobs that metal dies cannot do conventionally.

This also means that designs for folding cartons and other packaging work can be prototyped before a full commitment to a press run. The Euclid II+ can be used to create one sample box or package, or a short run for test marketing.

What This Means: The Implications

According to the press release, “mori and Highcon Announce Strategic Business Partnership,” Highcon has installed Euclid equipment in more than 20 jobsites worldwide.

What this means is that:

  1. The process is not just theoretical. Neither is it just for trade shows. Real commercial printing suppliers are using the equipment in real-world business settings. This bodes well for future expansion of digital finishing.
  2. Real-world usage of digital finishing will make any problems or issues in the technology very evident, allowing for any retooling necessary to improve the process.
  3. Analog printing (i.e., offset custom printing) can also benefit from digital finishing and for the same reasons. Offset printed jobs such as pocket folders that used to be jobbed out to die cutting subcontractors can now be completed in-house more quickly and for less money.
  4. Since most commercial printing establishments have both offset presses and digital printing equipment, digital finishing can benefit most printers.

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