Kalas Packaging has become the first company in the UK to take delivery of an HP Indigo 30000 Digital Press for folding cartons.
The simplex machine was delivered last week, but won’t go into full production until the end of January, by which time Kalas will have completed the 280sqm extension to its Boston, Lincolnshire premises that will house it.
Kalas sales director Matt Evans could not reveal how much it paid for the machine but said the £1.8m-turnover outfit had been keeping its eyes on the 30000s progress for a couple of years. It signed a letter of intent at Drupa and completed the paperwork at the start of October.
Evans said the machine will allow Kalas to diversify and move into new markets within the packaging sector. Approximately 90% of its turnover is currently accounted for through the production of horticultural labels, mainly for large supermarket chains, including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.
The Indigo, which sold in large numbers at Drupa, was first shown at Drupa 2012 and started shipping in mid-2014.
“Our core business is printing horticultural labels, which are litho-printed onto polypropylene, and this machine can print onto board and also plastic. So this is something that we can potentially print our current work on as well as going into new markets,” said Evans.
“It prints at B2 sheet size, which is bigger than most digital kit, the speed is not comparable to litho but it is quicker than what digital kit used to be, but the fact that you can print variable data without having to make plates is the most appealing part. For packaging markets, printing personalised data and variable coding is just massive.
“The ongoing support HP will give us with the machine and the marketing tools that it has is very appealing. HP is by far the biggest and best name within the industry for all these types of machine, anyone that would be seen as a competitor does not have the same kudos."
The Indigo prints at speeds of up to 4,600 B2 sheets per hour. It takes a maximum sheet size of 750x530mm and media thickness ranges between 250 and 630 microns.
It prints at a top resolution of 2,438dpi in a maximum of seven colours: CMYK plus orange, violet and green.
"We don’t know exactly what direction it will take us in but we have experience with carton-printing in the past so we expect it to take us into that area and also POS packaging, anything of the B2 sheet size really,” added Evans.
HP account manager John Harrison said: "The press is being installed in the new building so will be moved shortly but it's been a straightforward install and we're looking to help Kalas ramp the business up."
He added that Kalas had a very solid business model and entrepreneurial spirit, which is something shared with the early adopters in other countries that had installed the 30000.
"At Drupa [2012, when the 30000 was first shown], a lot of people came to see us and were blown away by the difference between the press they saw then and what they were seeing now."
Seven-staff Kalas has BRC food accreditation. On the litho side, it runs a KBA Karat and also houses a range of finishing equipment, including Bobst die-cutters.
It will be hiring one new staff member in January to mind the press and is also sending two of its current staff for HP training in Israel.
Work started on the extension, which will extend Kalas’ premises to 1,200sqm, around two months ago and will complete at the end of the year.
HP recently launched four new PageWide Web Presses at Graph Expo, US.