Highcon Releases the Euclid IIIC

India Tatro
 Mar 5, 2018

Highcon, developer of the revolutionary “Euclid” digital cutting and creasing technology for paperboard, recently announced the commercial release of a new machine, Euclid IIIC, which can cut and crease thicker media, in particular several grades of corrugated. The new machine features can work with single ply paperboard, laminated stocks, and N, F, G, E, and B-flute corrugated from 1mm to 3mm in thickness (40-120 points). The Euclid IIIC thus allows the Euclid series to expand further, thanks to the new printer’s ability to finish thin to medium grade corrugated media. That media category has grown quickly in the past few years because of is use in packaging, in particular for primary packaging such as small but sturdy boxes for cosmetics, consumer electronics, and home furnishings.

Highcon IIIC digital cut & crease machine for corrugated

About Highcon Euclid

Highcon made waves back in 2012 when it released its first product, the Euclid digital cutting and creasing machine. Noticing a need for digital alternatives to traditional post-press processes, Highcon developed the Euclid to be a suitable replacement for analog die cutting and creasing. Its first installation took place in 2013, and since then Highcon has placed units in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

A hallmark of the Highcon Euclid series is the separation of the cutting and creasing processes. Unlike traditional die cutting and creasing, where these processes typically occur simultaneously, the Euclid performs these tasks one after the other. The creasing is carried out by Highcon’s proprietary Digital Adhesive Rule Technology (DART). Before the production process, a specialized polymer is jetted onto a Highcon DART foil and cured. During production, the sheets pass between this DART cylinder and a drum, creating the crease lines.

Creating the DART rules

Sheets then automatically pass to the cutting station which uses a series of high powered CO2 lasers and scanners to follow the instructions given by the DXF file. The Euclid’s laser cutting technology can also be used to create a number of special effects including variable cutouts, perforations, etching and possibly others. With the Euclid’s digital technology, it is also possible for the operator to make last minute changes to the cutting parameters for corrections, design changes, or new versions. This allows converters to take on more complex designs, including “one-off” designs, and to offer their customers a higher degree of flexibility than they could with analog technology alone. The Euclid III generation, of which the new Euclid IIIC is now part, work with B1 (40” x 29”) sheets—about the same size as the sheets used by most offset presses for folding cartons—and can crease and cut them at up to 1,500 sheets per hour.


The Euclid IIIC at LxBxH

At the end of 2015 Highcon installed its first Euclid IIIC at a company called “LxBxH,” located in Kirchberg, Switzerland. LxBxH, which specializes in folding carton and corrugated packaging, has since then been using the Euclid to offer short runs at competitive prices. The success of the Euclid IIIC at LxBxH is encouraging as it demonstrates a demand for high quality short run packaging. Highcon CEO and co-founder Aviv Ratzman noted about the experience at LxBxH that box compression tests that have compared the digitally produced boxes with conventional ones have proven that boxes produced with the same substrate on the Euclid are stronger than those produced on conventional machines. That finding implies that packaging can have the same strength with less material, and possibly less cost.


Packaging Moves to Corrugated

Highcon has been a source of exciting news for the packaging and printing industries since the company first exhibited at drupa in 2012, and Euclid IIIC continues the Israeli company’s habit of expanding and improving its core technology. This new ability to work with corrugated is helpful and timely, given that makers of consumer products have increasingly made use the thinner grades of corrugated, in particular for primary packaging. To be able to make test runs and short runs of such packaging is now an attractive option for brands worldwide, and one the new Highcon technology helps enable.



Xeikon Update: Notes From Q1 Analyst Call

India Tatro

Xeikon, much in the news in 2017 for its “Xeikon Café” events and its debut as an inkjet technology vendor, held a first-ever quarterly briefing for press and analysts in all regions. On hand were top managers: Filip Weymans and Jeroen Van Bauwel, both from Xeikon’s headquarters in Belgium, and Dave Wilkins and Donna Cavannon, marketing and sales leaders for Xeikon North America, based in Illinois.


The Xeikon “Blueprint”

Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s VP of Global Marketing kicked off the presentation with an overview of the strategy or “blueprint” for the company. The key point was that Xeikon will now continue product development based on both dry toner electrophotographic and inkjet printing technologies, also that Xeikon will continue to expand finishing and workflow offerings for Xeikon’s commercial print and industrial printers. Xeikon will have a particular emphasis on folding carton printing on the industrial side and on high-value graphic arts applications like direct mail and educational books on the commercial print side. At the same time, Weymans noted that Xeikon has a long-term goal of moving into the corrugated market. In the meantime, though, Xeikon will focus on the label printing applications that today are the core of its industrial printer business.

One other point of emphasis on the call is that Xeikon now has a dedicated “Inkjet Competence Center” from Antwerp, Belgium. The facility, with 20 staff, was created in 2017 to continue research and development of inkjet printing technology.  In the near term, the team is continuing work on the Panther (PX 3000) series of UV curing inkjet label webs, as well as Xeikon’s “Fusion” technology for in-line embellishment of digital printed webs. Long term projects at the center will target flexible packaging and corrugated. While Xeikon for now offers only UV inkjet technology, the company is evaluating aqueous inkjet as well.


Updates on the Jetrion Acquisition

In late 2017 Xeikon and EFI announced a deal whereby Xeikon acquired the existing customers of EFI Jetrion; Xeikon now owns all the relationships, services the installed base, while EFI still manufacturers inkjet ink for that base (and will continue to do so until 2021).  Noted at the time of the deal and also during the analyst briefing, at over 200 UV label webs the EFI Jetrion installed base is the largest of all inkjet label printer installed based; its acquisition brings to over 700 the total production digital printers in Xeikon’s installed base.

Jetrion 4900M UV inkjet label press

Xeikon’s managers said on the call that their company will continue to actively market the Jetrion 4900 printer series, not just maintaining the current installed base, and added that there have even been new placements since the acquisition. The service and sales teams from EFI Jetrion have now joined Xeikon, and its global service and support infrastructure; the Xeikon managers said that their company’s localized and timely service have netted a positive reaction from Jetrion customers, with many signing long term service agreements, and some even purchasing additional Xeikon machines.


In Other News

During the briefing, Xeikon announced the sale of three PX3000 machines, which will be delivered this summer. PX3000 is the UV inkjet label web that Xeikon first showed at LabelExpo in Brussels in September 2017. Without disclosing the name of the purchaser at this time, managers on the call did say the sale is to an existing Xeikon customer with a large commercial print shop focusing on retail/POP applications.

Panther PX3000 UV inkjet label press

The PX3000 has also been placed with an early adopter in Belgium that has previously only printed with dry toner. This is an encouraging step forward for Xeikon since the success of the PX3000 at this site could help them market UV inkjet to other printers looking to expand their product line to include labels and flexible packaging.

Updates on other Xeikon products, including commercial printing products:

  • German companies PPS and K&L Wall Art signed deals for Xeikon’s Wall Decoration Suite earlier this year at Heimtextil
  • Thompson Press in India is the first in the region to install the Xeikon 9600, a complement to its existing web and cutsheet capabilities
  • An unnamed religious publisher in the US purchased two Xeikon 9600 machines for in-house publications
  • Existing Xeikon customer Labels Unlimited of Winnipeg, Canada purchased two CX3 presses (the 98 fpm “Cheetah”)
  • An existing Jetrion customer in Minnesota added a second Jetrion printer to expand their label printing capabilities
  • A Xeikon 3500 label printer (20” web), has been sold to an undisclosed customer in Montreal


Upcoming Events

Xeikon, which exhibited at EFI Connect in January, is a presence at many trade shows, including the ones that it hosts on its own, namely the “Xeikon Café” events that it hold in Europe and North America. Following are the plans for rest of the first half of 2018:

  • Xeikon Café – Antwerp, Belgium: March 20-23
  • Digital Inkjet Summit: April 9-11
  • Flexographic Technical Association: May 7-8
  • Xeikon Café North America – Chicago: May 15-17
  • Digital Print for Packaging Conference: June 4-8

More events are likely to be scheduled for later in 2018, including LabelExpo Americas in Chicago in September. Analysts from Keypoint Intelligence will attend some of these same events, and will continue to report on developments from Xeikon.



HP Indigo Lands Big Deal for HP Indigo 20000

India Tatro
 Feb 21, 2018

HP Indigo announced this month that a current user of HP Indigo 20000, ePac Flexible Packaging, has agreed to purchase 10 additional HP Indigo 20000s. ePac, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is a young, all-digital converter of flexible packaging and is already operating three HP Indigo 20000s sited in Madison and in Boulder, Colorado. The company, which started operations only in 2016, working with just one HP Indigo 20000, will add the new units to its existing sites this year and next at new facilities in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Miami.

HP Indigo 20000 30″ digital web press

Among color digital printers for packaging and labels, HP Indigo 20000 is rare indeed. As of today, it is the only fully commercialized production level digital printer designed to print flexible packaging. Meanwhile, it was only in 2014 that HP Indigo launched the printer, so this seven color, 30” (760 mm) EP web is off to a fast start. At the time of the recent ePac announcement, HP Indigo also revealed that the current global installed base of this printer is 115 units. Given this model’s high purchase price, HP Indigo has likely achieved nearly $200 million in sales of HP Indigo 20000, not including the recent ePac deal.

A Brief History of the HP Indigo 20000

HP Indigo 20000 has predecessors, but they are all HP Indigo printers, namely the HP Indigo ‘Series 3’ label webs, especially HP Indigo WS6000 and WS6800. Starting around 2009, HP Indigo began developing flexible packaging as an extra application of WS6000, enlisting partners such as Karlville and Avery Dennison for finishing and media. As HP Indigo expanded further into flexible packaging, the company began to work with narrow-web label converters to help them start printing this application. In addition, HP Indigo even equipped rare flexible packaging converters with the Series 3 printers. Today, the HP Indigo 20000, an HP Indigo ‘Series 4’ printer, is the pinnacle of the HP Indigo’s efforts to develop digital printing for flexible packaging. With a web width equal to that of many flexo presses, and a powerful print engine based on the HP Indigo 10000, the Indigo 20000 is a practical digital option for flexible packaging.

Labels, Other Applications Also

Since HP Indigo 20000 is a roll-fed printer with a substantial web width, it is well suited for the production of both flexible packaging and labels. About 75% of the printing done on the Indigo 20000 is flexible packaging, with the remaining 25% being labels, or a mix of label and flexible packaging, or other applications. Keypoint Intelligence estimates that gross billings from the current base of HP Indigo 20000s for all uses is over $300 million annually. Those billings will grow as the base does, and as converters gain skill both in using the printer and in selling its services.

HP Pack Ready

While there are no new HP Indigo flexible packaging printers in sight at this point, a key finishing addition to the Indigo 20000 will be commercialized this year. This is HP’s new Pack Ready Lamination system which will dramatically decrease the time spent waiting for printed and laminated rolls to cure. While flexo converters must wait up to a week for their laminated rolls to cure, users of Pack Ready can expect curing to be almost immediate.

HP Pack Ready system with specially designed hardware form Karlville

The first component of Pack Ready is proprietary chemistry: HP Indigo licenses film manufacturers to use its patented coating technology to coat film for use in HP Indigo 20000 (several film companies in different regions have been licensed). After printing in HP Indigo 20000, that pre-coated film goes into a specially designed laminator by Karlville, HP’s partner for FP finishing. The laminator uses thermal energy to join the printed film with another film layers, and the lamination is fully cured in only a few minutes.

Pack Ready coating structure with HP’s proprietary heat-activated coating (in yellow)

Not Alone Forever

While the Indigo 20000 continues to be the industry leader for digital printing of flexible packaging, there are at least a few new digital entrants. These new machines are from Japanese companies Think Lab and Fujifilm, as well as Uteco Converting from Italy; Think Lab and Uteco are experienced suppliers for gravure and flexo in the flexible packaging industry, and Fujifilm is a giant in industrial inkjet. The new machines from these companies have only a handful of beta installations, mostly in Japan, but more will come, possibly also from competitors that are not evident today. As in all industrial printing, inkjet has high potential to contribute to flexible packaging printing. That said, EP printing from HP Indigo 20000 has a big lead, as exemplified by the recent deal with ePac.

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux