The Highcon® Euclid and Beam digital cutting and creasing machines were conceived out of an understanding of the need for digital technology for post print processes in graphic arts industries such as folding carton and corrugated converting and commercial printing.
The first revolution incorporated into this machine is the separation of two processes of cutting and creasing. The conventional die covers both processes in one tool. Although this is a process the industry has become accustomed to, the different parts have different needs. In general the creasing does not have to change that often, but the cutting can and should. The limitations that caused them to be implemented together on the die are removed with digital technology.
By separating the processes, Highcon technology enables folding carton and corrugated converters, printers and trade finishers to offer the flexibility, creativity and responsiveness their brand owner clients are so strenuously demanding, while at the same time encouraging the brand owners to develop new packaging and marketing concepts. Not only are they able to produce more creative designs, but they can also fine tune them by proofing without wasting time or money or materials. So how does it work?
The creasing is carried out by the Highcon patented Digital Adhesive Rule Technology, DART. The creasing data comes from a standard DXF or PDF file uploaded to the machine. The software translates the digital data and sends it to the special DART canister which releases a special polymer onto a Highcon DART foil in the form of rules that once cured, will produce hard raised lines. Once the DART has been written, production can begin.
The cutting is done by an array of high powered CO2 lasers combined with scanners and advanced optics which perform the cutting design laid out in the DXF/PDF file.
The cutting can be made using variable data for each single sheet. This opens up a whole range of new applications, limited only by the imagination of the designer. The precision of the laser cutting also makes it possible to cut much smaller details than conventional analogue cutting – unique to the Highcon systems.
In a production run, sheets pass from the feeder along the conveyor to the DART station. Underneath the DART upper drum on which the foil has been wrapped and written, is a second drum, covered with a unique blanket-like counter. As the sheets pass through between the two drums, the crease is made. The combination of the DART technology and counter allows for creation of crease lines, resulting in products that are ready to be folded and glued
Each sheet then passes automatically along the conveyor to the cutting station and on to the stacker.
Even before the crease lines are written on the DART foil the file can be proofed by performing partial cutting, or perforations to simulate the crease.
And once the crease lines have been finalized, the cutting parameters can be changed as wanted, per sheet, to effect corrections, versions, or just last minute design changes. The laser can produce etching effects, variable cutouts, perforations (like zipper tears) and numerous other effects. The fact that last minute digital changes are possible means the operator of the machine can adapt the file to suit the correct cutting level for the specific substrate – impossible with conventional technology. This ability to control the depth of the marking, kiss cutting or etching opens up a variety of new ways to customize packaging at the finishing stage rather than during the printing.
The Highcon digital cutting and creasing machines come with an optional built-in waste stripping mechanism that automatically removes the waste from the smallest internal cutouts produced on the sheets by the lasers. The optimized cutting algorithms, together with a new substrate handling system, ensure completely clean cuts that are essential for intricate cutouts. All the small particles drop into an easily removable chamber. This module removes the need to buy, setup or store a separate stripping tool, and further advances the productivity of the machine.