By Arthur Timson, Future Print.

I recently had a very interesting chat with Javier Quesada who is the CEO of Kento Digital. I first met Javier while hosting a panel at the CCE event in Munich back in March 2019.

Since then, a lot has changed for him! So when I returned to CCE and InPrint last month, I was keen to discover more, and the interest from visitors in Kento was very high!!

For me, this booth stole the show, and this new concept offers some exciting potential by exploiting the best of analogue and digital inkjet. So I asked Javier a few questions about the system.

The benefits Kento provides converters

Imagine having a hybrid press for corrugated packaging that features both the performance advantages of flexo and the performance advantages of digital inkjet without compromising either.

This is the USP for Kento, and this is why there is so much interest in the system. Suddenly, the window of productivity and profitability for corrugated converters widens considerably.

Kento Hybrid caters for volume jobs that are not cost-effective with Flexo HD, offset or inkjet giving new opportunities for mass customisation and a greater scope for creativity.

This solution provides performance not currently provided by any other single-pass inkjet solution. It has been designed to solve the problems that corrugated converters are facing by embracing the best of flexo technology with the best of digital technology.

Javier explained that flexo is highly effective in printing single colours. For this, you need a lot of ink. So it is best to use flexo for these jobs, and this is why digital is not taking off in this industry as the cost of inks is simply too high. Sometimes the ink cost is higher than the cost of the paper itself when you are printing high quality!

But of course, the system is modular so you can add multiple colours for flexo printing in a single line, it is not limited to only one flexo printed colour.

Who have you co-created this with?

Celmacch is our partner. I have known them for many years. Kento Hybrid® was born out of a discussion with them as to why digital has been so slow to take off. So we decided to create a new solution.

The idea was to build a heavy-duty machine following the principles laid down by Cellmacch. All the analogue elements have been developed by them, and in tandem, we followed the same guidelines so the machine looks like any other in the industry.

We also followed the same format of 2.10 metres wide by 1.30 metres of development in the direction of travel. It fully complies with the requirements of packaging manufacturers in corrugated cardboard. The total length of the machine is below 30 metres, meaning it is easily installable in any factory.

What Speed?

The productivity is at the same level as high-quality flexographic printers at up to 80 linear metres per minute and up to 10,000 sq metres per hour.

What inkjet head?

The head is Seiko and it is 360 DPI which is perfect for the application set.

What Ink?

We believe that the best ink chemistry at the moment is UV. It offers the most robust solution. We have an open system, so we do not sell inks.

Today we have 2 inkjet ink sets certified to be used in our printer. 3 more are in the process to be approved in the coming months.

The only stipulation we ask is that the UV inks must be food compliant according to Swiss Ordinance and the Nestle list.

How does the printing work?

The machine prints first with flexo printing to print a single block of colour then the colour and detail are added by the digital inkjet printing system within the machine. We have patented the technology with high-quality cameras positioned inside the machine to enable the system to register the image correctly.

What about the digital workflow, surely this represents a big change from the traditional flexographic approach?

The machine comes with colour management software, and of course, we offer training. It is not actually very complicated.

Kento Hybrid innovation award FEFCO seal 2021

Have you any customers yet?

Yes, the first acquisition has been made by Grupo La Plana in their Onda plant situated a short distance north of Valencia in Spain, expanding its already extensive printing portfolio.

Grupo La Plana is a family and independent business group, specialising in the manufacture of corrugated and compact cardboard containers and packaging, and point-of-sale exhibition solutions.

Since its foundation in 1973 by the Piquer Gumbau family, it has evolved to become one of the main players in its sector, with more than 600 employees.

Specialised in cardboard packaging solutions and exhibition formats for sectors such as agriculture, food, beverages, high turnover goods, ceramics and industry, the company has more than 100,000m² of facilities, 5 production plants and 14 assembly centres, with the capacity to manufacture 500 million m²corrugated cardboard per year.

The agreement signed by Juan Ignacio Piquer and Javier Quesada – CEOs of Grupo La Plana and Kento, respectively – foresees the installation and activation of the first Kento Hybrid® line in the second quarter of 2022, placing the Castellón group at the forefront of global innovation in printing on corrugated cardboard.

An innovative printing line designed and built-in Spain

Kento Hybrid is the result of combining flexographic printing and single-pass inkjet printing, incorporating the advantages of analogue and digital into the same production line.

This concept was recognized with an innovation award at the last technical seminar of FEFCO, the European Federation of Corrugated Cardboard Manufacturers.

The analogue section – designed by Celmacch, Kento’s industrial partner – prints solid background colours, large masses, or white ink, special or metallic colours. The digital section prints high-resolution full-colour images and customized content. All this with a patented high-quality registry control system that monitors each printed sheet using sensors and artificial vision technology.

This hybrid printing equipment for corrugated printing offers new opportunities for mass customization and creativity, both for existing clients and new potential customers.

Once this new line is installed, La Plana Group customers will be able to incorporate new capabilities into their designs, and packaging professionals will be able to visit and learn first-hand about the advantages and benefits of hybrid printing on corrugated cardboard.

This acquisition is a big step forward in the digital transformation of the corrugated packaging industry, placing Grupo La Plana at the global forefront of the sector, with the most versatile, broad and complete printing portfolio on the market, complementing and enhancing its existing digital printing capacity to date.

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As published in https://www.futureprint.tech/the-futureprint-blog/kento-hybrid-creates-the-best-of-both-worlds

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