By Digital Output Staff
Savvy print service providers (PSPs) move to digital because it is seen as a necessary transition. Some do it piecemeal, while others implement change all at once.
In the packaging, prototype, and label space, where shorter runs and more personalized jobs are common place, digital printing on both the narrow and wide side is prevalent. The substrate versatility offered with newer flatbed devices and ink sets allow many a PSP to offer products outside of the box—upping the volume of applications crafted in a facility.
With its main headquarters in Kent, WA, The BoxMaker Inc. employs 178 employees across five additional branches located throughout the Northwest, with a location each in Bellingham and Spokane Valley, WA as well three separate branches in OR—Portland, Eugene, and Medford. The company offers custom packaging design, manufacturing, supply, and fulfillment services.
Its packaging division is broken down into categories, including protective, film, and graphics packaging in addition to point of purchase (POP) retail displays. Both flexographic and digital presses are used to provide output versatility.
In business for 33 years, The BoxMaker launched an overall digital initiative two and a half years ago. It purchased a Hewlett-Packard (HP) Scitex FB700 Industrial Printer in 2012 as well as an HP Indigo press for label production.
“At the time, HP was beginning to cater to the package industry, with a focus on wide format. In particular, it was addressing two growing trends in POP retail displays and packaging. HP was a natural fit,” explains Tonia Olson, director of digital business, The BoxMaker.
The HP Scitex FB700—an entry-level device—was ideal for the PSP because it offers versatility in printing to rigid substrates, such as corrugated board. After the initial purchase, one offs, small quantity runs, and prototypes were constantly run.
The BoxMaker realized just how much of a growth area digital was in Spring of 2014, when the HP Scitex FB700 reached capacity. Between adding a second device or upgrading to a newer model, Olson and the team made the final decision at Dscoop9, the annual HP user group conference held March 2014 in Orlando, FL.
It chose the HP Scitex FB7600 Industrial Press due to its speed and quality. The press’ end-to-end benefits were considered, with a focus on the workflow portion as well as media handling components such as the Multi-sheet Loader Kit. The entire package was implemented all at once.
The printer was delivered on July 7, 2014 and fully operational at the beginning of August. “With the new device we create prototypes in addition to POP displays and short runs of packaging items. It’s small to medium runs on this printer,” adds Olson.
The HP Scitex FB7600 addresses the growth of packaging used in displays and trade show booths, especially with the ability to print corrugated boards. These new applications propel The BoxMaker beyond pharma/nutraceutical, lifestyle outdoor brands, and food and beverage into market verticals such as athletic companies.
However, hardware advancement is not without its growing pains. “The sales team is continuously educated on the value of digital, in particular the benefits of customization and four-color package prototypes. For customers, especially those in the traditional packaging realm, the nature of the business is cyclical,” shares Olson. These buyers are accustom to repetitive orders in certain intervals, not one offs.
Sales representatives are learning how to create buzz around the HP Scitex FB7x00 Enhanced Color Pack, which The BoxMaker chose to invest in when purchasing the printer. In addition to traditional CMYK, the press offers light black, light cyan, and light magenta ink, which Olson shares is ideal for depicting shadows on packaging. The company also chose the varnish option over white ink because of the specialty effects it creates—flood and spot coating, as well as additional graphics protection when necessary.
At press time, The BoxMaker was becoming fully immersed in the inner workings of the HP Scitex FB7600. One of the first jobs run on the press was for repeat customer Flora Manufacturing & Distributing Ltd.—an herbal remedies manufacturer, whose product line ranges from nutritional oils to creams and herbal tonics. The international company’s U.S. headquarters is located in Lynden, WA.
For this project, Flora looked to The BoxMaker to improve upon a previous POP display. According to Olson, the manufacturer was looking for “assembly zen.” The previous design was heavy and complex, taking six people multiple hours to assemble and dissemble. Due to the display’s weight, shipping was expensive.
Design on the new display began at the beginning of August. The PSP chose Purepanel Plus—made from recycled waste—from EA International as the main substrate. Its superior print quality and structural strength were primary factors in the decision.
The media was run through the new HP Scitex FB7600, which allowed The BoxMaker to economically produce just one tower without any investment in tooling or cutting dies. Inline varnish was used as a full gloss across the entire piece, all in the same press pass.
In addition to digital print components, digital finishing was integral to the project. The PSP worked with its Esko Kongsberg XP Auto cutting table to create unique structures unattainable with manual finishing techniques.
From design to ship, the entire project took roughly two weeks. Five designs were created and 44 total pieces output. Olson notes that the job was not without its challenges. Citing “creating the impression of a powerful and bold structure and using relatively light weight components” as the biggest issue.
Flora was pleased with the final result. With this POP display, only three people are required to help with assembly in a span of eight minutes. In addition, the lighter weight Purepanel Plus reduced shipping costs.
The BoxMaker continues to motivate its staff and customer base by acquiring the latest digital technologies, which showcases its commitment to the industry. The advancements made—coinciding with the evolution of digital—in the last couple of years provides its clients with endless application opportunities.
Oct2014, Digital Output