5) Are there special challenges if printing and converting folding cartons compared to self-adhesive labels?
Gallus Labelfire (Picture Source: Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG)
Printing labels and folding cartons on one press: The hybrid narrow web press Gallus Labelfire can also be used for the printing and processing of folding cartons applications. We talked to Martin Leonhard, Business Development Digital at Gallus Ferd. Rüesch, about the so-called “Carton Edition” of the Gallus Labelfire, about the folding carton market with its special requirements and when an investment in a versatile machine system like the Gallus Labelfire makes sense.
1) Why is it that Gallus can now offer the Gallus Labelfire for the printing of folding cartons, in addition to the production of self-adhesive labels?
Martin Leonhard: The demand of one leading brand owner was the most decisive factor for this development. The offered solutions for folding carton applications were not yet ready to meet the requirements of this customer. After careful analysis of our capabilities our whole team came to the conclusion, that we might offer a machine system which is able to print folding cartons digitally with a high print quality (7) and inline embellishment.
2) How are folding cartons usually printed?
Martin Leonhard: Gravure printing is dominating the printing of tobacco packaging, leading to extensive prepress times and high costs for tooling. Gravure is followed by offset / lithographic printing.
3) The folding carton printing market has its own rules – might you name the three most relevant trends relevant for this market segment?
Martin Leonhard: The most relevant trends are similar to the label market: agility to the market, one pass productivity and just-in-time production. Contrary to the label market, the folding carton market is a much more mature market. You will find industrialized processes, combined with three-/four shift-production in combination with intense competition and therefore lower margins for printed products.
4) Do these trends relate to each other?
Martin Leonhard: Absolutely! The agility to the market is closely linked to just-in-time production. With the increasing cost pressure inline production is more and more an issue. The tobacco market already demands highest requirements for productivity (partially 24/7), print quality and embellishment possibilities (effect varnishes and metallic effects). In this regard, we have to mention digital. You can print whole range of substrates fast, user-friendly and variable with digital printing technology. For the production site the use of inkjet printing means:
a) Ability to print short runs (in the folding carton market e.g. 50.000 to 60.000 are considered as short runs)
-> shorter time-to-market
b) Printing with extended batch (same substrate and die-cutting line) is the most cost-efficient way to print a job in many different versions
c) No tools are necessary and it is easy to operate
Yes, for sure. To print folding cartons is a whole different world to printing and converting labels. The folding carton market is bigger and thus, the required job lengths are longer. “Industrial strength”, reliability and availability of the machines, is a keyword. Folding cartons are often used - especially in the tobacco segment – as primary packaging, but the substrate has no barrier properties. For this reason, inks have to meet high compliance requirements of the tobacco product manufacturer as tobacco goods have to fulfill the food legislation requirements. In this regard, also product safety is essential, before enabling any new process or technology. In a nutshell: it is a thrilling but also very demanding market!
6) How high is the demand for the Carton Edition?
The “Carton Edition” of the Gallus Labelfire is already used very successfully by one of the biggest tobacco brand owners. By now they have already invested in four Gallus Labelfire presses, three of them printing and converting of folding cartons, mostly extended batch production and one is in the qualification process for another application right now.
7) In your opinion, was it worth to modify the Gallus Labelfire as “Carton Edition”?
For sure, the adaption of the first Gallus Labelfire to print on a substrate like folding carton was a challenge, but it was worth it. By fulfilling new customer’ requirements Gallus laid the foundation to address a niche within the folding carton market. Now we can offer a Gallus Labelfire which is able to print self-adhesive labels as well as folding cartons although these two substrates can`t be compared in any way. We are curious about the further development and especially if and how inkjet will succeed in the folding carton market.
Thank you very much for the interview.