Cutting tables

Star product: Kongsberg Ultimate

At Drupa, the Ultimate ran completely automatically with a vacuum belt advance plus the large feeder and stacker units

Kongsberg describes this next-generation digital cutting table as a game-changer and promises it will deliver the highest performance on just about any metric you can think of.

What does it do?
The Kongsberg Ultimate is an all-new large-format digital cutting table, intended for corrugated packaging and display work. It is the first of a planned family of Kongsberg cutters that emphasise high-throughput productivity and precision. 

It introduces new technologies including a carbon fibre head beam, high acceleration motors and a new smart safety system. Sustainability of manufacturing is stressed.

There are four bed sizes: the 24 and 44 models, with bed sizes of 1.68x3.2m and 2.21x3.2m; and the 64 and 66 models, with beds of 3.21x3.2m and 3.21x4.8m.

They can all run with either vacuum belt material transport on the bed, with automatic feeder and stacker units, or a robotic material handler arm for greater throughput. 

Stuart Fox, president and CEO of Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems, says: “This is the first new machine designed from the ground up, so to speak, since we became a standalone business, which is why this is such a game-changer and not an extension to an existing range.” 

Kongsberg’s previous owner Esko sold it to the US OpenGate private equity firm in 2021, when it was renamed Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems. Kongsberg is now headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, with R&D at its original site in the town of Kongsberg in Norway, and a production factory in Brno in the Czech Republic.

When was it announced and what markets is it aimed at?
The machine was launched on 30 November 2023, at Kongsberg Customer Experience Centre in Ghent and livestreamed worldwide. Its first public demonstration was at Drupa, where it ran completely automatically with a vacuum belt advance plus the large feeder and stacker units. 

Target customers are corrugated converters requiring high-volume multi-batch production, for packaging or display. The modular design will let them scale up as required. Kongsberg unsurprisingly expects customers with the highest volume requirements to choose the largest table versions, the 64 and 66. Those with limited space or smaller product requirements will likely choose the 24 and 44 models

How does it work?
This is a flatbed cutting and creasing table with a travelling head carriage that can take multiple tools. It is digitally controlled from CAD data or cutting and creasing layers within artwork files. There’s a choice of four bed sizes, with multiple zones for simultaneous load/unload while working.

The Ultimate’s top speed is 167.5m/min, compared to 100m/min with the Kongsberg C-Series. Its acceleration of 2.7G is more than 50% greater than the C-Series.

The major new features include the PrecisionDrive system for high acceleration as well as high speed; a new carbon fibre beam to support the head carriage; new SmartZone perimeter detection; a new production sequencing module; and a new control workstation. 

PrecisionDrive combines a high-torque linear motor with a rack and pinion movement for up to 2.7G acceleration and peak cutting speeds up to 167.5m/minute. Being gearbox-free makes it more reliable with longer service intervals, says Kongsberg. The wide-format traverse beam on the 64 and 66 tables is newly designed, woven from a single filament of carbon, wound around a proprietary internal structure for high strength and light weight. Kongsberg says this means minimal twisting and bending, under acceleration or when generating the 50kg downforce for creasing. 

A new dual-zone safety system, Kongsberg SmartZone, monitors the moving head carriage’s surroundings so there’s no need for a safety cage. Anyone moving into the first zone slows the head beam (and its status light changes colour), allowing safe activities with uninterrupted output. If they move too close into the second zone the machine pauses everything.

A new iCut workstation with a touchscreen plus large and intuitive digital buttons “delivers an ergonomic, user-friendly experience for the operator,” says Fox. The new intelligent sequencing module optimises cutting routes for faster and more efficient production.

As corrugated is loaded with the printed side down, there is an upward-facing camera that reads bar codes to set up the cutter and select the tools for each sheet. 

“Our R&D team is always working on new innovations, so in terms of additional modules we are excited for what the future holds,” says Fox. The modularity initially concerns the materials handling. The table can be loaded and unloaded manually, but there are automation options with the feeder and stacker, or the robotic material handler. The feeder stacker is impressive in action, but cutting has to pause while the belt advances the media. The robot arm allows greater throughput because the head can carry on cutting one sheet while the arm loads or unloads another. If rail-mounted the arm can feed from or to multiple stacks, and serve more than one cutter. 

The Ultimate has three tool positions that can accommodate four different conversion types, so most corrugated jobs will not require any tool change. Functions include cutting, perforating, creasing, and V-notching. At any given time it can undertake cutting, oscillating, or creasing and perforating, with no need for the operator to stop to change tools.

The iCut workstation accepts a range of file formats. This includes PDFs with named cutting layers; native ArtiosCAD (ARD/MFG); SCRIPT; and ACM. JDF setup is supported. The iPC software controls the cutting table and the job settings are based on the material being processed. 

Kongsberg is also stressing sustainability, saying that Ultimate incorporates greater use of recycled aluminium, with minimal plastics, no composites. Most materials are easily recycled, and it uses powder coating rather than paint, for less environmental impact.

What does it replace?
Kongsberg says that Ultimate does not replace any of its current C or X series of tables, and it has plans to “re-energise” the X-series soon. 

What’s the USP? 
“This is the fastest table out there for corrugated production, with the greatest acceleration,” says Fox. “It is a ground-breaking machine that delivers against any measurement of productivity, precision, safety, uptime, user experience and sustainability.” 

How easy is it to use and learn?
The IPC 3.0 user interface with touchscreen is said to be intuitive, with easily accessible buttons on the machine itself. 

What does it cost?
“The Kongsberg Ultimate 64 with automated feeder and stacker is the most common configuration, priced around £450,000,” says Fox. 


Working areas 24: 1.68x3.2m; 44: 2.21x3.2m; 64: 3.21x3.2m; 66: 3.21x4.8m

Max material size (no conveyor) 24: 1.78x3.92m; 44: 2.31x3.92m; 64: 3.33x3.92m; 66: 3.33x5.52m

Head speed 167.5m/min

Head acceleration 2.7G

Max media thickness 30mm

Tools Cutting, oscillating, creasing and perforating – three fitted at once with auto selection

Price Ultimate 64 is about £450,000

Contact Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems 07966 276 840


There’s a respectable choice of digital cutting tables of all sizes, from suppliers including Blackman & White, Duplo, DYSS (sold via AG/CAD in the UK), JWEI (via IGS and CMYUK), Mantech, Mimaki (via Hybrid Services), Plockmatic (the Intec ColorCut models and the Valiani range of cutters). However, only Zünd with its Q-Line appears to have a latest-generation model with equivalent performance and materials handling to the Ultimate.

Zünd Q-line
The new Swiss-made high end Q-Line was shown for the first time at Drupa, including the fully automated BHS180 board load/unload system and the integrated Undercam camera to read down-facing print for setting up individual sheets. The new tech is broadly similar to Kongsberg’s: carbon fibre beam and linear motor, and performance is comparable. An alternative rail-mounted robot arm load/unload system for multiple tables is also available through Robotfactory, a spinoff of Zünd’s Danish distributor. 

Max material size 1.79x3.2m (Q-18-32); 2.26x3.2m (Q-22-32); 3.2x3.2m (Q-32-32)

Max media thickness 65mm

Head speed 120m/min (x-y),168m/min (diagonal)

Head acceleration 2.1G

Tools Up to seven in beam slots

Contact Zünd UK 01462 412 700