By Melissa Donovan
Packaging production companies of all shapes and sizes benefit from digital cutting solutions. Businesses often start small, adding digital to their prototyping and sample making departments. While others begin at the other end of spectrum, directly tackling production processes by implementing efficient, reliable digital cutting systems.
Keep it Consistent
In business since 2004, Bladen Box & Display of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, U.K is known for its innovation in display, print, and packaging. James Bladen, managing director, Bladen Box, has over 30 years of experience in the package design space.
When the company began, it employeed one and today boasts a staff of ten working out of a 17,000 square foot location. Geographically serving mainland U.K., Bladen Box is self defined as a supplier and manufacturer of point of sale solutions, digitally printed displays, exhibition kits, and banners and signage.
“We are known for our attention to detail, excellent customer care, industry knowledge, and quick turnaround service for bespoke, low- to medium-volume requirements with the highest level of consistency,” says Bladen.
To meet the needs of its customers, the company utilizes a fleet of digital printing devices including Canon Arizona 360 GT and Arizona 440 GT flatbed printers, an InkTec JETRIX LXi8, and an Epson SureColor S80600L. The first three printers are ideal for Bladen Box’s corrugated flat sheet work. The Epson is used when corrugated work requires complementary display products like posters, shelf strips, and pop-up banners.
The first digital press was installed in 2010, prior to that the company outsourced its digital printing work. “I have always been interested in digital as a cleaner technology with an understanding that it will replace screenprint, flexography, and lithographic printing. I could see the potential for digital and viewed some early attempts at it for prototyping in the mid 1990s in an old life within the packaging industry,” explains Bladen.
Despite not integrating digital print until the 2000s, Bladen started utilizing digital cutting systems in 1994. Prior to that, graph paper, pencil, and scalpel were tools of choice to finish a project. Automated, digital cutting systems were a big allure and the company turned to Zünd to meet its need for an efficient, consistent finishing process. Zünd G3 L-3200 and G3 M-2500 cutters are used for production.
In 2022, Bladen Box added a Zünd S3 L-1200 to replace its sample maker. “Having the same cutting technology for sample making allows us to be consistent in quality from prototype to production. I also like the tool compatibility Zünd offers from one cutter to another,” shares Bladen.
The Zünd S3 L-1200 meets all of Bladen Box’s goals thanks to its roll feeding capability. “We initially looked at adding another G3 but having seen the Zünd S3 range, it ticked all the boxes as the perfect cutter for sample making. The S3 also gives us the capacity for small format low-volume production while maintaining a small footprint in the factory,” says Bladen.
With the three Zünd devices on site, Bladen Box cuts 90 percent of its work digitally and die cuts ten percent.
Bladen Box also implemented Zünd Connect software when it purchased the Zünd S3 L-1200. The tool allows the company to monitor all of the Zünd devices at once and provides an overview on all of its usage. “Having a real-time dashboard with cutter productivity and downtime is a game changer for us. We can now create job lists more efficiently and increase our productivity,” admits Bladen.
Future in Mind
Looking toward the future, Bladen Box is well positioned to benefit from its current Zünd cutters. “Digital technology enabled us to go into manufacturing and create a niche between the old worlds of screenprint and a packaging sheet plant,” says Bladen.
But that isn’t to say he isn’t keeping up-to-date on the newest technologies. With Zünd recently announcing the Q-Line with board handling system – BHS180 and UNDERCAM at press time, we asked him what he thought of the disruptive technology.
“It looks awesome. I can see down the line this as the next leap frog in what we will do. I think this is something we will look into as we become more automated,” notes Bladen.
Jun2023, Digital Output