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Faster folding cartons

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Hans Haverkamp played a decisive role in the development of the Diana folder/gluers.

Flexible solutions in demand

Sophisticated cartons usually have a highly complex design, and their number is growing continuously. High quality perfumes, cosmetics and chocolates above all else are sold based largely on their packaging.

Consumers are seduced by the look, feel, shape and function of a sophisticated folding carton, while contents and price tend to fade into the background. Accordingly, manufacturers are placing more value on unique, highly finished packaging with which they hope to capture customers' attention.

The more individual a carton's design is, the greater are the demands placed on the manufacturers of folder/gluers. Such individual packaging often is produced in small runs, and the machines therefore have to be extremely flexible. Additionally, manufacturers of consumer goods are producing less and less of their “standard packaging” in large runs and storing them. Instead, branded companies tend to expect “just in time” deliveries — production in batches for the mass market. For the operator of a folder/gluer, that means frequent job changes and increasing makeready times which, particularly in high-wage countries, push at the margins.

In light of these developments and the accompanying challenges, the demand for a new kind of machine has risen in the past years. “Speed and quality have always been distinguishing features of the Diana folder/gluers,” Haverkamp emphasizes. For reasons of efficiency — and cost — features such as flexibility and user friendliness are also in growing demand now.

Modular design

“We see the strongest demand and also growth potential on the market at around 45 inches working width,” explains Frank Jansen, product manager for folder/gluers at Heidelberg.

At the beginning of 2006, the machine-building engineers from Heidelberg Packaging began developing a new model, the Diana X 115. The most important requirement was that the machine should be extremely user friendly. In addition, it had to be modularly built and flexible in the operation, to keep makeready times as short as possible. “Short make-ready times save time and therefore money,” is the hard and fast motto. Cost efficiency also was a focus in the machine's development, the design and manufacture right from the start. “We wanted a machine that was solely dedicated to customer advantage and didn't have more than really necessary,” explains construction director Wolfgang Diehr. Now user advantages, operator convenience and machine flexibility challenge even the experienced engineers at Heidelberg.

“At the start of the development, we talked intensively with many of our customers nationally and internationally,” says Jansen. “We asked, ‘What do you need, what do you want, what do you expect from the machine, what do you expect from us?' We also asked non-customers, for example, to find out what kept them from purchasing a Heidelberg machine in the past. We didn't want to develop a machine that can do everything and more, but rather a machine that is as closely tailored to customer needs as possible.” Other important criteria, he says, quickly crystallized: “High flexibility and easy operation!”

Continual development

To reach this goal, the existing modular concept from the Diana X 135 was expanded once again and operator friendliness increased even more with numerous detailed solutions. For Diehr and his engineers, it was the first complete development under the direction of Heidelberg after the renowned Jagenberg group was taken over five years before.

The result is an “absolutely universal machine for all kinds of folding cartons,” says Haverkamp. Typical customers for the Diana X 115, he says, will be the ones which produce many different and technically challenging cartons — sometimes in higher, sometimes in shorter runs. That, as well as those who need to be prepared for frequently changing customer demands. “Producers of folding cartons don't know yet today which ideas a manufacturer of high quality customer goods will approach them tomorrow,” he notes.

Significantly shorter makeready

Thanks to the available modules and specific construction features of the standard version, the Diana X 115 can be changed quickly between jobs. In addition, the range of producible folding cartons is nearly unlimited.

Jointly responsible for this flexibility are, for example, the all-purpose folding units, as well as feeder belts, which can be exchanged according to the carton surface within just a few minutes. This allows diverse ranges of carton and corrugated boards to be processed. The intelligent division of the new lower and upper transports adds additional free space.

The rotary module also saves time. It rotates the cartons either to the left or right. This makes a second step no longer necessary. All folding processes for producing collapsible, lock bottom and special cartons take place in the newly designed collapsible carton module, which significantly reduces makeready times with its simpler operation and flexibility.

The horizontal folds take place in the lock bottom or collapsible carton module. It's there-fore unnecessary to rearrange the prefolder, which once again shortens make-ready times. The Diana X 115 carries another special feature with it as well: It produces even the smallest cartons with an open width of 1.8 inches (45 mm) using gentle belt-folding.

Modular approach

A pressing module, which presses the crease lines on the cartons with adjustable strength into the folding position again, ensures particularly strong form stability. The new ejector module can remove blanks determined to be faulty at full machine speed in travel direction and ensures a product free of defects, from the smallest carton in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries up to large special cartons. Further modules are in planning. Included is an embossing module for Braille, which can now be found more and more often on medication packaging for safety reasons. Or an image inspection module which uses the already familiar technology “Inspection Control” from the Speedmaster XL 105. This enables cartons to be inspected for printing and diecutting quality with the Diana X 115.

The strongly modular construction accompanies a yet again improved operating concept. The frames, for example, have been lowered to allow easy access into the machine. In this way, manual work can also be carried out ergonomically. For the processing of collapsible boxes, security-related areas are now secured with light grids instead of doors.

For the production of other cartons, the high safety measures aren't necessary and the light grids are deactivated. In operation this means the machine provides easy access during the busy part of the day, it can be operated easily and quickly without doors.

Low maintenance servo drives reduce service and maintenance work to a minimum.

The Diana X 115 made its debut at Drupa 2008. “It was a real hit there,” Jansen says. “Our customers and other onlookers were pretty impressed when the machine started running at full speed and producing more than 200,000 straightline folding cartons or 50,000 collapsible cartons per hour.” Mass series production has begun and the first series machines began to be delivered in spring of this year.

This article was adapted from Issue 267, 2009, Heidelberg News. See

Behind the ‘Diana' name

Application engineer Hans Haverkamp sees at least an indirect connection between this folder/gluer and Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting. Arrows used by hunters easily reach speeds of 197 ft./sec. (60 m/sec.). That makes them practically imperceptible to the human eye. The Diana can hit a production speed of up to 2,133 ft./sec. (650 m/min.). The 200,000 folding cartons produced per hour — 55 every second — blur to a single streak, just like an arrow.