Domino has announced a new printer, the X630i, a single pass press that’s designed to print directly to corrugated substrates. It’s targeted at a range of applications including boxes, shelf-ready packaging and POP displays.
It can print to coated and uncoated corrugated sheets without requiring a primer. It takes sheets ranging from 508 x 762mm up to 1600 x 2998mm but with a maximum print width of 1345mm. Condon says that this is the same sheet size as for most flexo presses so that customers will be able to use the same die cutters and so on. It runs at up to 75mpm though Domino seems to suggest that 50mpm might be a more reasonable production speed. It should be able to produce 4500 sheets per hour, assuming a 900 x 1500mm sheet.
The press itself is an all-enclosed unit that’s designed to fit into any environment. Condon says: “You can put it where it can be the most efficient in your flow as we have taken care of all the environmental issues.” It measures 11.6 x 6.4m and is 3m high.
It uses an Esko front end and takes in standard PDFs. The sheets are fed into the press via a servo-controlled lead-in feeder, which has been developed by Sun Automation and is included with the press. Then they are cleaned and transferred onto a vacuum belt and aligned for the print unit. The printed sheets are output via a stacker, which is not included with the press, with Condon saying: “We are open to whatever the customer wants.”
It uses Kyocera drop on demand printheads with 600 x 600dpi native resolution and three greyscales. Domino says that it builds on its Generation 6 inkjet system, which also underpins its N610i label press. Essentially this means that it uses three technologies that Domino has developed. These are iTech Cleancap, which automatically cleans the printheads and ensure they are capped when not in use to prevent the ink drying in the nozzle chambers. There’s nothing special about this – just about every other single pass inkjet press does something similar.
Then there’s iTech StitchLink, which uses micromotors to align each printhead. Again, nothing particularly unique in this – every single pass printer uses multiple printheads to create a longer printbar, and those heads have to be aligned precisely so that the droplets they produce stitch together to create a single print width with no gaps. In most cases, this means physically locating the heads in place and then using some electronic solution to stich the droplets from one head together with those on either side. Domino has opted for micromotors to physically move the heads to achieve this – it’s not the only method and this approach is not unique to Domino.
The third part of Domino’s generation 6 platform is iTech Actiflow, which keeps the ink at a constant temperature at the printheads and circulates the ink around the printbar. Again, all inkjet systems attempt to maintain the temperature of the ink as this directly affects the viscosity of that ink and therefore the jettability of the ink. For the circulation to be truly effective it would have to include recirculation through the printheads, which should be possible with the second generation Kyocera heads though Domino has remained strangely quiet on this point.
It prints in CMYK and uses Domino’s AQ95 water-based inks, which is said to comply with food safety certification, including Swiss ordinance, Nestle and EUPIA. This ink contains a micro polymeric particle component though Domino has not explained how this works. Condon says that it can cope with a wide range of materials from Kraft to uncoated and coated materials, all using the same ink, without requiring any precoating. He adds: “It gives more of a semi-gloss look on a coated material to mimic a litho-lam effect.” Drying is via near infrared, which Domino claims will consume less energy than other systems.
Condon added: “Domino recognises that corrugated converters are facing the same challenges faced by label printers ten years ago with increased demands from brand owners for shorter print runs, shorter lead times and more SKUs. The question is how do you meet this challenge cost-effectively? Add to this, the increasing demands for personalisation, shelf-ready packaging, and Covid-19 which has ‘temporarily’ accelerated the already predicted market growth in e-commerce, as security and hygiene take on greater importance. All these factors are drivers towards the digital production of corrugated. Domino wanted to extend and share our digital ink jet knowledge and expertise with the corrugated sector to help you respond to these changing market demands.”
The X630i has been beta tested at Independent II, a corrugated box supplier based in Louisville, Kentucky in the USA. Finn MacDonald, president of Independent II, says that lead times are getting shorter, adding: “It’s a demanding market place and we have got to be able to handle that demand. But quality can’t suffer.” He says that digital offers the ability to be more responsive with packaging, noting: “We believe the X630i can deliver a lot of that work with operational savings.”
Domino is taking orders now for the X630i though any kind of demonstration, let alone actual installation, is going to depend heavily on the ongoing situation with the CoVid-19 pandemic. You can find further details from domino-printing.com.
It’s worth noting that there are now quite a number of corrugated inkjet printers at various stages of development, including the EFI Nozomi, Barberan Jetmaster, HP C500, as well as Xeikon’s Idera platform and several printers from the joint venture between Durst and Koenig and Bauer. It’s an interesting area and I’ll take a closer look at this later in the summer when the dust has settled from all the non-Drupa announcements that we’re currently seeing.