Hunkeler showed the first products in the new high speed Gen 8 portfolio at the Hunkeler Innovation Days last week, with more than a nod towards the acceptance of high speed inkjet printing by commercial printers.
Key to this is a slitter/cutter that can slice and dice a web in moments. The unit will switch between one and three slits according to data held in a 2D barcode. This triggers the automatic movement of the slitters into position from one setting to another in 15 seconds. The cross cutting can similarly be programmed to remove gutters and trims to leave finished single-sheet products ready to wrap and go.
This was a technology demo of a machine due to go into beta later this year and consequently there is no price tag as yet. The appeal of commercial printing was further underline by a first cut sheet finishing unit from Hunkeler. The slitter/cutter perforator ran inline to a Canon i300 inkjet press and is largely the equivalent product acquired with the purchase of Muller last year.
The second version will have more Hunkeler technology included promises Stefan Hunkeler, chief executive of the 260 strong business that has grown hand in hand with the expansion of continuous feed inkjet printing. Now as that technology begins to spill over into new sectors, Hunkeler is in position. It showed a flying splicer for the HP240 web press allowing the press to continue running while a taped splice passed beneath the print heads without damaging them.
This is essential technology for commercial printers needing to squeeze as much production from a press as possible. This is reflected in attendance at the Lucerne show. “Transactional printing is still a portion of our business. It is growing gradually, especially in direct mail,” he says, “but we are also seeing companies in packaging and we have applications that suit, web inspection, logistics, security and tracking. we have the foundation to expand into new markets. We already think in a digital way with Industry 4.0.”
A B2 sheeter and enhanced laser cutting device equally have applications for digitally printed packaging. And the company is no stranger to building the highly sophisticated highly automated lines combining engineering and software that will be needed as packaging adopts digital printing. It is equally adept at working with partners, and Hunkeler mentions fellow Swiss company Bobst as the sort of partner it might work with. “We will perhaps see first solutions in packaging at the next show in two years
“Even with the decline of conventional print, there’s a huge opportunity for us in the future: publishing is still a growth area for digital printing when you look along the whole logistics chain, regarding the total cost using automation through to transportation. That’s the key to digital printing.”
By Gareth Ward
Hunkeler is looking in new directions as digital print technology expands its remit towards commercial printing and to packaging. The first fruits of this will be seen over the next couple of years, having sewn the seeds at this year's event.