Star product: Kolbus packaging line

By Simon Eccles, Monday 24 March 2014

Be the first to comment

A solution for re-shoring luxury packaging.


Kolbus: luxury packaging solution

What does the combined system do?

The NM 100 Grooving Machine may sound like an 80s cassette player, but it is in fact part of a system for automating the production of short-run luxury packaging, including rigid boxes, slip cases and similar. It’s an extension of Kolbus’ established hardcover book casemaking machinery. 

The NM 100 cuts v-shaped channels into standard 2mm greyboard, creating mitred folds. Up to eight parallel grooves can be cut. You can create grooves at 90˚ with two passes, but other angles aren’t possible. 

After grooving, boards are fed into the DA 260 Casemaker, which glues a paper or cloth face-sheet to one side, then turns over the sheet edges and glues them. For an inner liner sheet you turn the board over and run it through again, or alternatively two Casemakers could run inline for both sides. Alternatively you might use a Casemaker first to glue face and liner sheets onto plain board, then send that through the grooving machine.

When was it launched and what’s the target market?

Kolbus first demonstrated luxury packaging with a Casemaker at Drupa 2012, though the NM 100 was actually launched the following year. The first UK order came from Screaming Colour, which took delivery of a DA 260 Casemaker in March and will receive its NM 100 in May. 

“The initial interest in the UK is coming from companies that are looking to bring back fast-turnaround luxury packaging work from the Far East,” says Kolbus UK managing director Robert Flather. “The first machines went into champagne packaging sites. Subsequently they’ve been used for cosmetics, chocolates, the wider drinks industry and high value consumer electronics goods.”

How does it work?

The NM 100 has a transport cylinder that passes the board past an array of knife holders, which cut the v-shaped grooves as it rotates. The knives are held in pairs where the mitre angle can be varied between 60 and 130 degrees to give different folds. Knife angles are set in a separate desktop jig. The blades are disposable but can be re-sharpened a few times.

Boards are taken in on one side of the machine and delivered above this on the same side. Smaller sized boards are fed from a magazine (a pre-stacking conveyor is optional) and delivered onto a high-level conveyor. Larger sheets up to a metre long are hand fed on rollers and removal is also manual. Waste is also ejected. 

The DA 260 uses standard options and can also be used for book cases and similar items. After going through the two machines the boxes can be hand assembled and glued. However Screaming Colour plans to use its year-old Emmeci boxmaking line to automate that stage too. 

Kolbus doesn’t supply artwork templates, but these should be easy to set up in Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or packaging design software. 

How fast is it?

The NM 100 runs at 65 pieces per minute. The DA 260 runs at 40 pieces per minute. 

What’s the USP?

Flather says that this is the only cutter of its type, automating a process that is otherwise usually manual. While X-Y cutting tables can also cut v-shaped channels in board with angled knife attachments, they’re much slower. “Potential customers tell us that our accuracy and quality stands out because it cuts completely differently, with especially accurate corners,” says Flather.

How easy is it to use?

The NM 100 is set up by sliding and locking the knife holders against a scale, then setting up the feed and delivery by hand. The DA 260 is set up by entering the required dimensions into a touchscreen and setting up the feeders. 

What support is available?

Kolbus handles all training and expects it to take about a week. There is 24/7 service support on all Kolbus machines, with remote diagnosis options. 

What do they cost?

The NM 100 costs from £100,000 with eight knife carriers. There are some feed and delivery options. The DA 260 costs about £260,000 in a configuration suited to packaging work. 

What’s the sales target?

“If we can sell a couple a year, that would be a meaningful target,” says Flather. “It’s a bit chicken and egg. The market is small today but it could be huge once people realise they can package their products attractively for a more competitive price.” 


NM 100 Grooving Machine 

Speed 65 boards per minute

Min board size 140x100mm

Max board size 1,000x405mm

Board thickness 1-4mm

Footprint 4,150x2,200mm

Price From £100,000


DA 260 Casemaker

Speed 40 pieces per minute

Min board size 140x100mm

Max board size 680x405mm

Footprint 5,000x3,000mm

Price From £260,000

Contact Kolbus UK 01908 317878


Esko Kongsberg XN-20

The XN series is available in seven sizes up to 2,210x6,550mm, with the XN-20 being the smallest. It can be hand or belt fed. The tables can be fitted with an angled knife head that can cut v-shaped grooves in two passes. It’s a lot slower than the NM-100, but the table can be used for other work such as sample cutting, or for milling high-strength materials such as acrylic, wood or aluminium sandwich. It can also cut angled grooves and fully cut the shape out of the board; with the Kolbus system you have to hand-trim the waste away. 

Max working area 1,680x1,270 mm

Max sheet size 1,740x1,750

Cutting speed 50m/min (depending on materials)

Price From £65,000

Contact Esko 0121 667 4200

Zünd S3 M800

This is the smallest of the S3 range, which is available in five other bed sizes up to 2,270x1,200mm, with optional angled knife cutting attachments. The same comments apply as for the Esko Kongsberg. Note that Screaming Colour already has a Zünd cutter but still chose an NM 100 to help it move into higher volume work. 

Bed size 1,330x800

Cutting speed 39.3m/min (depending on materials)

Price From £50,000

Contact Zünd UK 01727 833 003


“The Kolbus system is specifically for thick board, but we’ll also use it for casebound books and ring binders, slip cases as well as packaging. We did look at a number of different machines, but the quality of build and Kolbus’ professionalism gave them the edge” 4/5

Iain Moring Managing director, Screaming Colour

Share this

This Issue

Latest comments