Customer events at Bobst’s Meerbusch Competence Center have a reputation of delivering valuable information, and thus generally boast high attendance.
Characterized by the slogan “experts meeting experts,” more than 120 visitors from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg experienced an entertaining mix of speeches regarding current market developments, machine demonstrations with live productions of sample packages, and product presentations during the recent 2017 Expert Days Exhibition. Partners Henkel, BOXPLAN, the Scheufelen paper factory, Baumer hhs, and Deutsche Leasing, contributed significantly to the diverse program. They gave expert presentations and had their own company booths within the in-house exhibition. Bobst Meerbusch dedicated two days to folding boxes, and one day to corrugated cardboard.
During his opening speech, Dirk Corsten, Managing Director of Bobst Meerbusch, discussed the positive growth potential for the packaging industry on the international market. The market volume was more than 800 billion Euros in 2014. An increase to approximately 1 trillion Euros is expected by 2020. “Bobst products cover approximately 53% of the total market volume,” stated Corsten, emphasizing the importance of his company’s portfolio for the industry. Bobst Meerbusch alone sells 40 to 50 new machines in the market each year.
One point of particular interest was lamination. Ad Jongmans, Director of Marketing & Sales at Bobst Grenchen, made it clear how closely interrelated the markets for traditional folding boxes and offset-laminated corrugated cardboard are from a qualitative viewpoint. “Mini corrugated and micro corrugated cardboard are increasingly replacing solid board. The market is showing a trend toward offset laminated double-wave cardboard. Thus, this market segment is demonstrating solid growth.” Especially with heavier papers, laminated B-wave and C-wave cardboard is used increasingly frequently in order to avoid the washboard effect, particularly for decorative packaging and displays. “More and more corrugated cardboard and folding box companies are recognizing the appeal of this market niche and are beginning to manufacture packaging made from offset laminated corrugated cardboard,” said Jongmans. Declining sales and the increasing market demand for larger and more stable packaging are driving forces for folding box companies. While thicker boxes are not the most suitable solution based purely on cost, folding box manufacturers could generally produce mini wave and micro wave cardboard using the same flatbed die-cutters and folder-gluers used to create their other packaging.
“They can buy printed offset sheets inexpensively thanks to surplus in the offset market, and then expand their product portfolio relatively easily by offering high-quality packaging made from offset laminated corrugated cardboard,” Jongmans stated to an audience of corrugated cardboard manufacturers. In addition, particularly heavy types of cardboard and paper qualities and widths are easier to process on inline litho-laminators than on large corrugaters. “Furthermore, you already have the necessary processing and peripheral equipment in your facilities.” The hurdles that corrugated cardboard or folding box manufacturers would need to overcome to enter this lucrative growth market would therefore be relatively low. This phenomenon was also reflected in the number of inline litho-laminators sold by Bobst. As Jongmans stated: “We are currently producing one out of every two double-wave machines. We will certainly see additional decreases in grammage concurrent with higher demands for surface quality.”
A live demonstration of a FOLIOSTAR showed how inline lamination actually works. This sheet-fed offset press, which is appropriate for both small and large production series and produces 9,000 sheets per hour (or 150 meters per minute), performed a live lamination of a “MASTER BOX” with a lid. Both the lid and the box were perforated live with a MASTERCUT 1.7 flatbed die-cutter from the laminated sheets. This demonstration impressed visitors both with the precision of the patented POWER REGISTER splicer and the BREAKER inline separator.
For the folding box industry, one package was produced live - namely one whose complexity posed high requirements both for automatic pulling and depaneling as well as the precision of the pressure-to-stamp index. This folding box with internal padding, tuck-in flap with locking slot near the opening, interlocking bottom, scoring, and transverse scoring was constructed from high-quality cellulose cardboard with a very smooth surface. The offset printed sheets were die-cut with eight closely-arranged panels with a VISIONCUT 106 LER 3.0 flatbed die-cutter at the machine’s maximum production speed of 8,000 sheets per hour, folded and glued with an EXPERTFOLD 110 A2 folding box-maker gluer, and then packed in MASTER BOXES using a partially automated HANDYPACK GT packer.
Between presentations, BOBST experts provided an overview of the current portfolio for the folding box and corrugated cardboard industry, and announced new products intended for release in the near future. The partners explained various aspects that should be considered in packaging manufacturing. Overall, visitors never had a moment to be bored during the entire in-house exhibition.