HP Flexes Its Packaging Muscles: Part 2

Ron Gilboa
Dec 2, 2014

Hewlett-Packard’s Graphics Arts Division demonstrated its ongoing commitment to digital printing for packaging with two major events in Eastern Europe. The first event, the worldwide premiere of a printing and finishing solution developed and integrated by Kama and HP Indigo in Israel, was covered in InfoTrends’ blog on November 24. This blog covers the demonstration of the HP T400 at the Obaly Morava open house. The T400 is a high-speed inkjet press for the full color printing of liner stock that is later laminated to corrugated board and then converted into packaging and displays.

Obaly Morava (Otrokovice, Czech Republic) is a privately-held manufacturer of corrugated cardboard and packaging. The company manufactures corrugated packaging using three- and five-layer cardboard to create various configurations, including tuck-in flap boxes and specialized packaging. Obaly Morava’s equipment list includes the finishing elements needed to manufacture packaging (e.g., die-cutting, folding, gluing, sewing), equipment for various print processes (e.g., rotary screen and flexo printing for up to 5 colors), and now CMYK (with HP’s T400 inkjet press).

Obaly Morava’s open house, which was held at the company’s recently finished digital printing plant, was hosted by CEO Martin Rehorik. During his introduction, Rehorik noted that the industry is undergoing rapid changes and that brand owners’ responses to user demand are translating into shorter print runs and a greater number of products. According to Rehorik, this transition from mass production to mass customization has prompted several of Obaly Morava’s recent investments.

By investing in the HP T400 and a near-line coater from Harris & Bruno International, Obaly Morava can print full-color graphics on a range of liner substrates that can be pre- and post-coated as needed, and then laminated to corrugated board. With speed of up to 600 feet per minute and a 42” web width, the HP T400 and has high nozzle density, with multiple nozzles print in each dot row, bringing redundancy as well as 600 dpi resolution.

 

HP T400 Simplex Press at Obaly Morava

HP T400 Simplex Press at Obaly Morava

Obaly Morava’s new digital focus will enable the company to maintain a high quality standard and improve its response times. The industry standard turnaround for corrugated jobs is currently about 3 weeks, but Obaly Morava’s standard is about 10 days. Rehorik predicts that his company’s standard will be just 5 days once the digital site is fully operational and includes printing, corrugation, and automated logistics.

Another observation from the open house is that, as in the label, folding cartons, or flexible packaging applications, the digital press will operate in alongside existing conventional presses. Creating full-color applications digitally enables Obaly Morava to improve operational efficiency and time to market by migrating shorter runs from flexo print systems. Rehorik explained that flexo systems need expensive plates, but they last only a few months due to environmental degradation. While Obaly Morava will continue to use its analog presses, the company has no plans to invest further in conventional color printing.

In addition to investing in a new digital printing facility and equipment, Obaly Morava purchased a corrugator by Fosber spa (Italy) that is the largest of its kind. This double-width system can join the liners and medium layers to create corrugated cardboard up to 9 layers thick. Many setup combinations are possible with this corrugator (e.g., white/brown, brown/brown, laminate/brown), and the two-up configuration makes it possible to run two rows of materials side-by-side.

 

FOSBER s.p.a Corrugator at Obaly Morava

FOSBER s.p.a Corrugator at Obaly Morava

Obaly Morava is an ideal client for HP and its strategy in the packaging industry. HP has an all-encompassing plan to convert analog to digital pages or square meters, and the company has embarked on this strategy in a number of its key divisions. In the packaging space, investments include HP Indigo with folding cartons, labels, and flexible packaging solutions, HP Scitex with its grand format flatbed printing solutions for rigid corrugated media, and this installation of the high-speed T400 system at Obaly Morava.

During the open house, HP’s team emphasized three key elements that influence the company’s strategy—a commitment to customer success, technology leadership, and an upgrade strategy. The final element is a key differentiator, since customers who invest in inkjet printing systems are now weary of product obsolescence due to innovations in printhead or ink delivery systems. HP has developed products and client contracts with a “future-proof” mentality; clients will be able to upgrade their products when new technologies become available.

This approach is part of HP’s success in publishing, production mail, and commercial printing, and it will now figure into the company’s budding placements for package printing. To date, 5 billion square meters have been printed to date using HP’s production inkjet devices across all segments and applications and 2.25 billion square meters were printed in 2014.

HP offers its clients three primary value-added elements:

  • A means to optimize the business to drive better profitability
  • Transformation of the supply chain
  • High-impact products

Obaly Morava provides the first example of HP implementing these core values through a production-level press installation at a corrugated manufacturer. This solution has the potential to become a model for the many packaging converters that have not yet forged a digital strategy. Obaly Morava and HP have a strategic advantage of being among the first in the market to adopt digital technologies to better meet the challenges of the packaging industry. Other converters will likely follow Obaly Morava’s example as they seek to meet clients’ demands for innovation that drives profitability.

 

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