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By AICC Staff

January 24, 2022


The world of corrugated is changing. No longer the near-exclusive domain of commoditized, low value-added RSCs, corrugated cartons are an increasingly important part of the consumer’s brand experience. Consumers understand that corrugated packaging is sustainable and recyclable, and brands understand that when carrying a clear brand message and a great opening experience, a corrugated box is a valuable asset.

These changes are driving an ever-growing volume of much shorter run corrugated packages. Typically, volumes are smaller than traditional MOQs. Requested lead times are shorter. Boxes may be more intricate, include secure opening mechanisms and custom inserts also made of corrugated for mono-material recyclability. And increasingly such boxes may be ordered via e-commerce channels without the involvement of a salesperson or a conversation. All this is great news for the corrugated industry but represents a challenge for many corrugated converters whose equipment and processes are optimized for different kinds of runs.

In the traditional linear process, each package is run step-by-step through the plant. Each job implies another setup on each piece of equipment, and when the runs are short, that means that there is an adverse setup-to-run ratio. If finishing happens on a CAD table, then even short-run jobs take hours. Enter Digital Manufacturing that changes these paradigms for the “problematic” new jobs. Jobs are collected, and then using AI-driven imposition software, dynamically ganged to reduce the number of makereadies and tooling costs. Often these jobs will be printed digitally, though there’s no inherent requirement for that. The printed board will then be digitally die cut—because that’s how you make small runs and dynamically ganged jobs affordable and effective. Tooling cost—essentially eliminated. Lead times—essentially eliminated. Cycle times—shortened. Production time—dramatically cut, if compared to CAD, and not dissimilar to analog if going on a conventional die cutter. The carbon footprint of the jobs is slashed as compared to a job involving multiple conventional dies. If a job is reordered down the road, it’s thrown back into the mix with the other orders of the day, dynamically ganged and produced affordably, quickly and efficiently.


Digital Die Cutting is what Highcon is all about. Highcon combines digitally driven mechanical crease lines with laser die cutting and digital stripping to dispose of all the internal pieces. With the very short-run-centric Highcon Euclid 5C system and the longer-run-centric Beam 2C system in either pallet-based or non-stop configuration, Highcon has a portfolio dedicated to corrugated, both for packaging and display applications. Though the maximum sheet size is only 42, growing numbers of converters are finding that they have massive volumes of work in this format and that Highcon’s digital die cutting systems can solve their bottlenecks, enhance their agility, increase the capacity of their conventional systems and improve their SLA to customers and profitability for shareholders.

It’s all about the right tool for the right job. Digital die cutting as part of a Digital Manufacturing strategy making the “new” jobs feasible, attractive, effective and environmentally responsible. Alongside the conventional process through which the traditional jobs continue to run effectively.


Simon Lewis

Vice President Marketing Highcon


Highcon Americas

Michael Ciaramella

VP Sales & GM Americas