The firm, which is owned by Flint Group, has teamed up with colleagues from Flint on the development of its new Idera inkjet platform, described as “the long-awaited Xeikon entry into digital corrugated markets".
Benoit Châtelard, president of Flint Group digital solutions and CEO of Xeikon, commented: “We are pioneering in the corrugated post-print environment, with new water-based technology where we want to bring a high level of productivity and quality, but more importantly a business model that suits the needs of this industry.
“We want to help with the migration from conventional to digital. We are introducing major printing solutions to the market,” he stated.
Sébastien Stabel, Xeikon market segment manager for carton packaging, said changing market forces including the growth in e-commerce and the growing focus on sustainability and environmental issues, had driven the development.
“These changes require new ways of thinking, let’s call it an intuition reset. I think we have 12-24 months to get prepared and at least to think about it,” he said.
He said the new Idera platform had been built around four components: “Firstly, productivity with post-print single-pass able to print on uncoated and coated boards at 150m/min. Second, is an economical cost model driven by our own developed inks and varnishes.
“The third point is automation and productivity, driven by integration of best-in-class third party components such as pre-feeding and stacking.
“Lastly, digital transformation capability driven by our own X-800 workflow and colour management tools,” Stabel stated.
An full Idera line will be installed at Xeikon’s Lier technology centre in September, and the firm will be inviting corrugated companies to go to Lier to evaluate and test the system.
It can print on uncoated and coated board at 150m/min, and has a sheet size of 1.6x2.8m. Target markets include both short and long run lengths, with a requirement for quick turnarounds and “higher print quality than flexo”.
Lode Deprez, Xeikon VP of technology, said that the use of water-based inks had major benefits.
“Water-based inks have a huge advantage over UV inks and hybrid inks in terms of food safety and sustainability,” he said.
“But also in terms of cost, allowing higher volumes and a higher breakeven point for this new market.”
He said that Xeikon was making a substantial investment in the vertical integration of the inks being used, “creating the technical advantage that is needed for these new high-volume markets”.
“We are formulating and producing our own pigment inks, based on a patented pigment dispersion technology, and making use of the logistic and production know-how of Flint.”
It has set up a dedicated website for the new system at www.idera-sprinting.com.
In a further update following the announcement of its fifth-generation, 508mm wide, 30m/min SX30000 digital press in March, Xeikon market segment manager Dimitri Van Gaever said that as well as allowing customers to tap into new markets, the new flagship device could potentially replace multiple EP digital presses, or run as a complimentary option for firms using high-speed inkjet devices.
The SX30000 uses the firm's new Sirius dry toner technology.
Van Gaever said it could produce 2,545 B2 sheets per hour “four-over-four or five-over-five – it doesn’t matter how many colours you run.
“We are positioning this machine into what we call the zone of flexibility or the zone of value. We are targeting companies that have electrophotographic sheetfed machines that want to consolidate volume, increase automation and lower their running costs – the SX30000 is the machine for that kind of organisation,” Van Gaever stated.
“Secondly we have companies that have already invested in high-speed inkjet, and we also see that our press nicely compliments those machines because sometimes you need lower runs and more flexibility in terms of substrates.”
Xeikon has also announced a new “zero touch” modular flexo plate processing line using robotics, the Catena, which has been developed as a joint effort with colleagues from Flint Group’s flexographic business.