An article by Javier Quesada, co-founder and CEO, Kento Digital Printing.

It could be argued that the current digital printing solutions are not always a perfect match for the challenges set by the consumers of corrugated packaging.

This problem has quite possibly delayed the pace of digitalization of the industry and, as a consequence, the number of active inkjet printers in corrugated plants is not as high as one might have expected a few years ago, particularly when compared to the installed base of analog printing lines.

New Needs

Changes in the behavior of new consumers are impacting the corrugated packaging markets:

  • Exponential increase of the number of items available on the shop floor;
  • More SKUs with shorter lifetimes, new distribution models and types of households;
  • Higher expectations in packaging personalisation and unboxing experiences;
  • Faster product launches and promotions to attract the customer at the POS.

All the above have affected the packaging industry, reducing production run lengths and diminishing the efficiency of converting equipment.

Besides, in corrugated packaging, there is a growing demand for printing quality to catch the eye of the consumer with flashy colors, realistic images, packaging versions for different markets, personalization, and much more.

Inkjet printing technology is helping converters to adapt to these new consumer demands, but this solution only works for short production batches since the cost of digital ink is too high when compared to flexo ink.

When run lengths increase, fixed costs of flexo printing, such as plates, have less impact on packaging production costs, making digital printing less competitive.

The Idea

The ‘eureka’ moment came during a meeting in the Celmacch Group facilities in Desenzano de Garda: Rodolfo Celotti challenged us with the idea of combining analog and digital technology in a single printing line.

The concept of Kento Hybrid® was born; getting the best of both worlds, flexo and inkjet, to start a revolution in printing on corrugated for packaging.

Rodolfo Celotti challenged us with the idea of combining analog and digital technology in a single printing line. The concept of Kento Hybrid® was born.

Slightly over one year ago, the founding partners of Kento decided to develop a printing solution, perfectly adapted to the current needs of the corrugated packaging industry. We wanted:

  • High quality decorative printing, with the capacity to print short and mid-sized runs in a cost-efficient way.
  • Wider flexibility and lower TCO than analog or digital technologies available currently in the market.

A new company, but with 30 years of experience, was born. Celmacch’s extensive experience manufacturing printing equipment combined with our founders deep knowledge of industrial inkjet technology and corrugated packaging manufacturing processes and markets makes Kento the best team to understand and address the needs of corrugated packaging manufacturers.

From our first day we have been in contact with key players of this industry to develop the best solution to respond to their needs. Kento is focused specifically on corrugated packaging.

We think specialisation is a key factor. We do not expect our customers to adapt to our technology, because we have built a printing line that fits exactly to the market needs.

Technical Solution

Kento Hybrid® technology joins in a single line one or more flexo printing units with a high-quality inkjet printer to reduce printing costs for small and midsized production batches, where analog printing is not efficient.

This combination makes printing costs attractive, (especially when compared to single-pass inkjet printing that can be held back by lack of output and cost of inks compared to flexo).

This is how this goal is achieved:

  • For short or very short runs (up to 2,000 sqm) only inkjet printing will be applied, avoiding the expensive flexo plates;
  • In mid-sized runs (up to 5,000 sqm) flexo printing will be applied to print colours with high ink consumption (background colors), significantly reducing the consumption of costly digital ink, while single-pass inkjet is used for high definition images. The total printing cost is much lower than using only inkjet or only flexo (only one plate will be needed for the background colour)
  • Other applications will benefit from Kento Hybrid®’s flexo modules, such as printing with white flexo inks on brown liners, special colours, or flexo metallic inks not available for digital printers.

Kento Hybrid® has a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) that can be lower than flexo lines and inkjet printing equipment for short and mid-sized production runs.

Ask for a technical brochure or schedule a live demo

Specs and service

We have developed and patented a high precision register-control flexo-inkjet system: artificial vision guarantees top quality and optimal register in every single sheet printed.

The maximum printing width is 2.1m, the largest in the market. The maximum size of the board in the printing direction is 1.3m. This format is the most common in high-quality flexo printing on corrugated and makes the line only 29m long from feeder to stacker, easy to install in most corrugated production plants.

Kento is an engineering and equipment manufacturing company.

We are not an ink maker, so we have decided to use an open ink model; we certify different ink sets from the top ink producers worldwide and give our customers the possibility to choose between different alternatives of flexo inks, inkjet inks, primers, and varnishes.

Our specific request for ink companies is to supply our customers with top-quality products complying with all food safety regulations (Swiss Ordinance and Nestlé).

Kento was born specifically to serve the corrugated industry. We understand perfectly how critical after-sales support is, so we designed and built a top-quality service team to look after the users of our equipment.

First published in the October issue of IPBD