Gravure Cartons: New Fashion for Packaging (I)

The notion that carton packaging is merely outdated has complicated the supply of carton manufacturers to product packers. First, after quality inspection, including physical and chemical indicators such as size, graphic, color, wear resistance, anti-skid, and packing performance; Secondly, through commodity inspection, transporters, distributors and consumers will look at the packaging box with unprecedented picky. For commercial use, these are the market backgrounds for the technological evolution of the carton production process.


The evolution of carton processing

Simply put, corrugated boxes consist of two processes, namely printing and forming. The printing process equipment includes offset printing, flexo printing, and gravure printing; the molding process equipment includes single-sided machines, cardboard lines, and slotted/die-cut/sticker machines. Printed substrates can be sheets, webs, or multi-ply paperboards; board machines can laminate face and non-printing base papers. If you print before forming, it is called preprinting; after the first molding, it is called postprinting.

Sheetfed offset printing is a traditional preprinting method and is currently the main processing method for domestic high-end color cartons. Offset preprinting method has little investment, but the process is complicated. The carton factory needs to configure a four-color full-surface offset press (such as Roland 800), a single-faced corrugating machine, a veneer machine, a polishing machine, a glue box machine and a die cutting machine. Many processes, low efficiency, and poor environmental safety. Since the rise of the 90s in the last century, flexo printers have developed rapidly and become a convenient and mainstream method for carton colorization. Usually composed of m- or more color groups and slotted/die-cut groups, ink printing on three-layer and five-layer cardboard, this type of carton printing method called flexo-post printing requires only two devices. , namely, cardboard lines and wide-format flexo presses. The post-printing process uses a flexible photosensitive resin plate to lightly print on corrugated cardboard. The inevitable spread of dots causes the hierarchical printing to be limited to less than 80 lines, which is not as exquisite as offset printing. Most of the post-printing can only be equivalent to the mid-range level of the color carton. The high-end post-printing technology of the uv glazing system is configured. For example, BOBST's MASTERFLEX flexo press can approach offset printing level, but the machine cost is not affordable for a general carton factory. The most widely used flexo presses in China are from Taiwan, and domestic models such as the South China Sea East and Jingshan light aircraft are also common.

Europe and the United States carton industry in the eighties introduced a new pre-printing technology - satellite web flexo. The equipment is dominated by a Central Impression Roller (Central Impression) to print, dry, polish, and cure a wide range of webs, with dot printing up to 150 lines. The visual effect is exactly the same as offset. Feeding speed is 150 meters per minute. A six-color preprinting machine with a width of 1200mm can print 400,000 standard 640ml bottled cartons every day (3 shifts). The production efficiency is 4 times that of a full-open offset press. The biggest difference from the offset printing preprinting process is that after the web is preprinted, the upper corrugated cardboard roll is directly applied to the roll, and the lower board is slotted/die-cut/glued to form a cardboard box. All the equipments are equipped with 3 equipments, which means fewer processes and high efficiency. It is safe and environmentally friendly. The two satellite preprinting machines (W&H~DBelloni) that have been introduced in China are operating normally and represent the cutting-edge process for high-end color box production. However, it is more difficult to transform the advantages of pre-printed flexographic printing into commercial advantages. As satellite web offset flexographic printing presses have not yet been domesticated, the high price is a bottleneck that hinders the carton maker from investing. For example, the Belloni six-color machine took advantage of the World Bank loan, while the W&H eight-color machine took two years to complete. It is obvious that capital investment is not easy for the carton factory.

Gravure preprinting and flexo printing

According to statistics, after corrugated cartons flexo printing accounted for 60% of North American carton packaging, pre-printing accounted for 35%, and showing an upward trend. The share of conventional offset (A, C, B) cartons is minimal, but in recent years, with the introduction of direct offset printing technology for corrugated cardboard by Roland and KBA, mini-corrugated cartons have begun to dominate the carton market. The proportion of high-end color boxes in Europe and Japan is even higher. According to Chinese consumers' appreciation and consumption habits, color and delicate packaging are more likely to attract buyers. This is one of the reasons for offset printing to occupy the corrugated box market for a long time, and it is also the starting point for the packaging industry to switch to gravure roll paper preprinting.

At present, there are four manufacturers in China: Shaanxi Beiren, Xi'an Qinhua, Handan Light Machine and Xi'an Huayang. Among them, Shaanxi Beiren sold 6 paper gravure printers, 3 Qinhua machines, 4 Huayang machines, and 3 light machine machines. The well-known domestic companies that use gravure carton packaging products include Tsingtao Beer, Sanlu, Mengniu and Yili. It is estimated that there will be 15 new gravure printing machines in China in 2004, and 4 units will be exported to the United States and South Korea. Domestic machine-type six-color paper gravure printing machines are priced at 1.5 million yuan, 3 million yuan and 5 million yuan with three widths of 1,300 mm, 1,650 mm and 2,500 mm respectively, which is equivalent to 1/1 of the price of imported satellite type flexo presses. 3, is 1/6 of the price of the imported unit gravure printing machine.

Foreign printer manufacturers such as Bobst, Cerruti and W&H have been focusing on the development of flexo-printing, preprinting and narrow web printing machines. The wide-format gravure printing machine used for carton printing is basically blank. Among them, the high cost of the gravure plate steel plate roller is one of the main reasons restricting the development of the gravure preprint. The cost of the plate roller is 900 euros per color. The color of the crates is rich and the edition is limited. The gravure pre-printing is not counted in the European market. economic. The popularity of the domestic laser platemaking industry paves the way for intaglio preprinting. Due to the close to the plate price of the flexographic plate price, the carton factory has “softly bowed down” in the printing mode. With the integration of enterprise groups and the emergence of national brands, the large-volume long version of EIl~, J has allowed product packers to applaud gravure preprinting.

The paper gravure printer gives the user a great deal of flexibility. It can not only accept carton preprinting, but also print cartridges, Tetra Pak, cigarette packets, decorative paper and other packaging products.汕樟 Light machine is an early attempt to develop paper gravure printing machine in China. In 2001, the first gravure preprinting machine was installed at Zhejiang Tongtianxing Group, which solved the high-grade color carton packaging required by Luzhou Citrus Exported to Canada, making the ponkan orange price It rose by 30% while transportation losses decreased by 25%. The Starstar Group has now drafted a second intaglio preprinter.汕樟 汕樟 light machine for Taiwan South Asia Group customized a pearl film preprinting machine and carton preprinting principle is the same, this device will be shipped to South Asia in the United States carton factory, the production process is slightly different, is in strength and resistance The colorful pearl pattern is printed on the excellent degree of breakage, and then the film is compounded on the cardboard and die-cut.

(to be continued)

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