Scodix to stand toe to toe on foil quality
27 Oct 2022 06:00

The producer of digital embellishment presses says that with SHD it can match or beat foiling quality of conventional equipment

Scodix will introduce Smart High Definition technology to its Ultra 6000 embellishment press at Printing United this week, claiming that the software represents a break through in quality that puts Scodix alongside long standing technologies for foil stamping. 

The SHD technology is especially important to greetings cards and carton producers. It delivers the  sharpness that the best foiling can achieve, faster and with less environmental impact the company claims. This goes beyond the quality levels that Scodix can already deliver. It’s a development that takes us beyond where we already are, says Scodix VP global sales and marketing Mark Nixon. This means moving into the mainstream of packaging and greetings cards production, the largest consumers of hot foils and producing billions of sheets a year. SHD gets us into that market space, says Nixon.

It is not a new target. At Drupa in 2016, the company introduced the E106 as a B1 embellishment press which ultimately proved “beyond economic sense” to manufacture. Instead its B2 press design was scaled up with additional printheads to produce the Ultra 5000 for B1  paper and the Ultra 6000 for B1 board. With their launch we were entering a different market place with lots to think about, says Nixon. 

One of the issues was the need to match conventional stamping technologies in terms of quality. With SHD Scodix believes it has done this. The software analyses a file and within seconds will identify the edge between text to be foiled and the background. At this point, a single droplet of the adhesive polymer is fired instead of the two droplets used elsewhere to grip the foil. This means that instead of overlapping soft drops, the single droplet delivers a sharper result and smaller text can be rendered clearly, including reversed out text at 4-6pt. This is what is needed to compete against traditional flat bed platens Nixon explains.

Our biggest completion is now analogue systems. We are attacking the replacement market, not trying to create a new market, says Nixon. Initially the capabilities of Scodix offered new possibilities in terms of enhancement through digital embellishment of an image, meaning a market had to be created and making an investment a riskier proposition for a printer with no existing customers to target. If Scodix can address companies that buy conventional technology, this falls away. Scodix is chasing existing volumes.

By seeking to replace an existing method of production with what Nixon calls intelligent manufacturing of a foiled sheet, Scodix is shooting at a market in cosmetics, luxury goods, chocolates and so on that already understands the value added potential and impact of foil. 

These are jobs where you need to be able to produce reversed out text at 5pt for ingredient lists and more. Before it was almost impossible for us to get to 8pt text. We needed to sharpen up the game.

With declining print runs (40% of all carton jobs involved fewer than 20,000 sheets according to Scodix) and a proliferation of skus, the table is set for the challenger technology. 

At this sort of run length, the Ultra 6000 SHD is more productive and more economical than a conventional platen. The platen can frequently require a two-hour changeover between jobs.  Furthermore there is no expensive die to order, and await delivery. By the time the die is loaded into the platen, Scodix will be closer to finishing a short run job. 

In sustainability terms, there is no need to order a die and no need to use metals extracted from mines, resulting in a huge carbon footprint, to create the foiled image. Digital production by way of comparison is effectively zero rated. Waste too is at a minimum with the digital technology.  The opportunity is with declining run lengths. Whatever the run, the cost and impact of creating a die and the lengthy makeready remain.

Says Nixon: Most of the foil stamping machines that are in operation were bought to cope with runs of 250,000 which was standard at that time. And it’s just not economic to produce runs of 20,000 sheets of these machines.” But these sort of runs are more commonplace and what is needed today.

He reckons that the Scodix solution does make sense. The company has already been taking orders for the press and has three sales in the pipeline with one in Europe included. The first will be installed in November. That is a company that is working for Fifth Avenue brands. The quality has to be right for these customers and the price has to be competitive. We can prove that short runs do not need to be disruptive, he says.

The company plans to focus initially on new sales (it reckons that 80% of Ultra 6000 customers will opt for the SHD package) and then towards the end of next year to introduce a retrofit kit for Ultra 6000 machines that are in the field.

Prepared on the basis of information from Print Business