• Web-to-pack: Heidelberg boxuni
    Web-to-pack: Heidelberg boxuni

Press giant Heidelberg is launching boxuni – which it says is the world’s first web-to-pack platform and digital production solution for designing and ordering customised folding cartons – in partnership with one of China’s leading packaging manufacturers, Xianjunlong Colour Printing.

As the first boxuni production partner, Xianjunlong has implemented a fully integrated web-to-pack production line – from cloud-based online platform to printing on a Heidelberg Primefire 106 and postpress operations from Heidelberg partner Masterworks.

The world’s first Primefire 106 printer, ColorDruck in the Black Forest – which PKN's stablemate Print21 visited in November – is also running a web-to-pack business model, although it is using its own software.

Heidelberg says printers, designers, and end customers will benefit in equal measure from the new web-to-pack platform.

Heidelberg contributes its software know-how surrounding Prinect and its extensive experience in the printing of high-quality folding cartons. The company says in this way it is bringing the interests of packaging designers, end users, and packaging printers together on one platform.

Designers currently have online access to around 12,000 folding carton designs, with more being added all the time. This makes designing packaging that is tailored to their requirements a quick, simple, and cost-effective process.

Packaging buyers can order packaging designs online – customised if necessary and also in the shortest of runs – which Xianjunlong then produces fully automatically and ships.

A Primefire 106 from Heidelberg – China’s first industrial digital printing system in B1 format – starts by printing the packaging that has been designed and ordered online. Once the folding cartons have been printed, postpress operations are carried out on a digital coating/foil stamping system and a die-cutting machine from Heidelberg partner Masterwork. Xianjunlong is thus offering a complete production chain for digital packaging printing.

Heidelberg is also leading the way when it comes to creating a digital ecosystem for the packaging market in China’s print media industry. The next step is to give print shops the opportunity to link their products and services to this platform. For the first time, it will then be possible to use a cloud-based platform to produce folding cartons in a standardised, highly automated process with wide coverage in China.

“It is the first time for the company that we are working together with a customer to invest in a new business model, which will drive further growth in the packaging market. We are intending to generate added value for the various industry stakeholders by creating a digital ecosystem. And by investing in a Heidelberg Primefire 106, Xianjunlong is underlining the importance of our industrial digital printing system for implementing new, data-driven business models,” says Professor Ulrich Hermann, management board member and chief digital officer of Heidelberg.

Mr Zhuang, Xianjunlong Colour Printing management team member, says he expects the platform to revolutionise China's packaging market.

“In the future, designers, print buyers, and printers will all benefit from a highly automated, standardised process that will ultimately eliminate the need for correction cycles and coordination processes. We’ll use this digital business model to ensure the Primefire is used to its full capacity on a cost-effective basis,” he adds.

Heidelberg and Xianjunlong organised an open house to show the new system. Visitors were able to see a complete, integrated value chain for digital packaging printing – from creating a potentially customised folding carton and entering orders in the web-to-pack platform to printing on a Primefire 106 from Heidelberg and performing postpress operations to finish print orders ready for shipping.

“China is the world’s largest market for folding carton production. It is worth 30 billion euros and is growing at an annual rate of around five per cent,” says Stephan Plenz, member of the Heidelberg Management Board responsible for Digital Technology. “China in particular is seeing a growing demand for short runs and even more customised packaging of very high quality, the perfect fit for the Heidelberg Primefire 106. We consider this the next step in a trend that will create further impetus for growth in the highly promising digital packaging printing segment,” he concludes.

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