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Jan 1, 2007 12:00 AM

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A few years ago, if you were discussing Heidelberg’s (Kennesaw, GA) die-cutting offerings, you probably were waxing nostalgic about your letterpress days and the variety of jobs you cranked out on your old Windmill. Or perhaps you saw a Speedmaster SM 52 equipped with a rotary inline die-cutting unit at Graph Expo 2004. If you were discussing Heidelberg’s folder/gluer lineup, your conversation was short, indeed, because Heidelberg offered none. But since its 2003 Jagenberg acquisition, Heidelberg has a lot to talk about.

More to come
The vendor’s die-cutter and folder/gluer introductions are part of a broader packaging strategy that will culiminate at Drupa 2008 with the debut of the Speedmaster XL 142 (40.2 x 55.9 inches) and Speedmaster XL 162 (47.2 x 63.8 inches). Other components include the SM CD 102 as well as the XL 105, Signapack imposition software, Metadimension workflow tools and Suprasetter 102 platesetter.

This past fall, as part of a packaging event conducted for the trade press, Ralph Pasquariello, vice president of postpress product marketing, and Mark Rasmussen, packaging product manager, provided an overview of Heidelberg’s die-cutters and folder/gluers. In a follow-up interview, they offered some additional equipment insights.

Complexity and control
When should a commercial printer consider bringing die-cutting in house? “Evaluate the type of product and the customer you’re catering to,” advises Rasmussen. “Are you doing a couple thousand or a couple million? How complex is the job? How many [jobs] will you be producing in a given time?”

Pasquariello draws a comparison to the trade bindery situation two decades ago: “Most printers didn’t have bindery equipment in their shop—they sent out saddlestitching and most of their perfect binding. Now, customers can’t wait two weeks for an outside finisher. Commercial printers need faster turnaround times and [more of them] want to control the whole job.”

Die cutters big and small
Heidelberg’s die cutter line includes KAMA, Varimatrix and Dymatrix. KAMA, an entry-level machine, is offered in two versions: ProCut 74 (600 x 740 mm) and ProCut 105 (740 x 1050 mm). ProCut 74 has a rated speed of 5,000 sph; ProCut 105 is slightly slower at 4,500 sph. Optional features for the multipurpose machine include a hot stamping unit, hot cut system and even hologram stamping.

“It’s a niche machine for foil stamping and die-cutting,” explains Pasquariello. “The nice thing about it is its flexibility—commercial printers who don’t want to dive into high-speed die-cutting can stick with some of their current technology in combination with the KAMA.”

The 750 x 1050-mm Varimatrix 105 CS is rated at 7,500 sph. This midrange machine strips internal waste and has 330 tons of cutting force.

The high-end Dymatrix is offered in four versions: 105 (740 x 1050 mm), 106 (760 x 1060 mm), 113 (820 x 1130 mm) and 142 (1020 x 1420 mmm). All have a rated speed of 9,000 sph except the 142, which runs at 8,000 sph.

From the 106 on up, all Dymatrix models offer extensive cutting, stripping and blanking capabilities.

“A commercial printer that’s not going to do runs of millions probably will vacillate between a Varimatrix and Dymatrix,” says Pasquariello. “It depends on what the company sees down the road or how much work they want to bring in-house.”

Making cartons and more
Heidelberg’s folder/gluer portfolio includes the entry-level ECO 80/105 and Diana folders in a range of speeds and widths for producing straight-line and lock-bottom cartons; four- and six-corner collapsible boxes; corrugated; and special boxes. The Diana 45 for small cartons can be used for pharmaceutical and cosmetic cartons. The Diana Pro 74/94/114 multifunctional machines with a speed of 500/650 m/min. reportedly are the fastest folder/gluers in the field.

Accessories for high-speed lines include the Jagfeed blank prefeeder, Japack Pro carton packer and Tuenkers FAS 480 semi-automatic packer.

What can you do with a folder/gluer? According to Pasquariello, applications include boxes, table tents and presentation folders, and a host of entry-level commercial print jobs. Rasmussen cites cosmetic and pharmaceutical packages, particularly short-run regional brands, noting, “A lot of the big guys don’t want to bother with short-run private label work.”

Both Rasmussen and Pasquariello say fold/gluing technology has improved dramatically over the past 10 years. “In the old days, machine setup was all manual,” says Rasmussen. “You would go from a six-corner job to a straight-line job back to a lock-bottom job, and it might take four to 12 hours to change from one product to another. Today, with automation, you can go from one complex product to another in less than an hour.”

Pasquariello notes new technology for the Diana-X series facilitates turning—folding and gluing in different directions: “With the old technology, it was similar to [conventional] folding machines. Everything was done at a right angle. With our new machines, a turning module can turn the blank halfway through the machine and accomplish the right angle at high speed. The folding/gluing is all inline in one direction.”

The operator challenge
Printers with limited packaging experience should proceed with caution, particularly on the die-cutting side. “The operator talent and skill base required to run a die-cutter is a hurdle commercial printers have to overcome,” says Rasmussen. “With die-cutting, the coating, caliper and type of paper board all have a major effect on the tooling and skill of the operator. If the operator isn’t careful, he or she will create a lot of waste.”

In addition to developing or hiring operators, a company adding a die-cutter must establish partnerships with die manufacturers to ensure proper tooling.

Folder/gluers aren’t as complex, but still require a lot of skilled setup. “You have to be able to change quickly from one product to another,” says Rasmussen. He adds that most printers opt to test the waters with some entry-level equipment such as the KAMA or ECO; if they are able to grow their volume, they step up to a higher volume machine.

What’s next?
“We’ve made a lot of strides toward enhancing these machines,” says Pasquariello. “All the features are up to date and we’ve resolved any issues we inherited with the acquisition. We’re fully committed to the paperboard and packaging industry—we’re going head to head with the best out there.

It’s a great niche.”

Don’t block the box
In “Die cutters do more with less” (November 2004, pg. 26), we highlighted equipment from Bobst, Kluge and other key players.

In “Think outside the box” (February 2006, pg. 34), we provided an overview of new folder/gluers from Heidelberg, Valco Cincinnati, Bobst, Standard Paper Box Machine Co., Kluge and American Intl. Machinery.

For these and other related stories, visit our online archives. See our sister publication Paper Film & Foil Converter (PFFC) at for related product news.

Expanded sales opportunities
Founded by Ricky De La Vega and Orlando Lopez in 1995, Nupress (Miami) prints high-quality materials for domestic and international clients, including large corporations, small businesses and individuals. With 60 employees working eights shifts, seven days a week, the 50,000-sq.-ft. facility is a full-service provider.

Nupress got off to a modest start with a lone GTO about a decade ago and has added Heidelberg equipment as it has grown. The GTO has been joined by two Speedmaster CDs as well as three Polar cutters. When Nupress decided to bring die-cutting in-house, it turned to its longtime supplier for a Dymatrix 105 CS die-cutter and an ECO 105 folder/gluer. Machinery magic

The ECO 105 is an entry-level folder/gluer that provides easy makeready with quick-action release clamps for roller bars. The nine-ft., four-inch-long prefolder permits faster production without running the risk of damaging long blanks. The ECO 105 is equipped with electronic backfolding hook control, which allows four- and six-corner collapsible boxes to be produced with successive blanks very close together.

With a maximum output of 9,000 sph, the high-performance Dymatrix 105 CS (CS stands for cutting and stripping) is suitable for paper, board and corrugated board. The machine can be inspected easily via large windows on both sides, while control panels at the front and back ensure easy operation and ergonomically designed controls enable quick changeovers.

Intricate cuts for more customers
Nupress uses its new equipment to produce many jobs featuring intricate cuts, including presentation folders, press kits, and boxes for real estate developers, cruise lines, airlines, cosmetic companies and local tourist attractions. The new die-cutting department has helped the printer expand its customer base. According to company controller Litsy Pittser, Nupress has seen a 30 percent increase in sales since installing the Dymatrix and Eco. Says Pittser, “[The new equipment has] improved customer service by allowing us to provide more accurate estimates of turnaround times and costs [resulting in more customers and sales opportunities].” See
—Carrie Cleaveland, assistant editor,

Graph Expo news
Esko (Vandalia, OH) showcased its Kongsberg Digital Converting Machine (DCM), which is based on its XL series of cutting and creasing tables . It automatically loads sheets from a stack of material up to 24 inches thick, cuts and creases each sheet from a CAD file, and unloads the sheets. No cutting die is required. Users reportedly can cost-effectively produce small runs for different sizes of 10 to 400 sheets.

Matik North America (West Hartford, CT) offers the complete line of Vesta folder/gluers manufactured by Barcelona-based Inramik. The latest addition, Prospekt II, is designed for 3D and standard capacity pocket folders.

Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) (Reston, VA) is partnering with the Flexographic Technical Assn. (FTA) to launch PackPrint. It will be held in conjunction with Graph Expo, Sept. 9-12, 2007, in Chicago.