Founded in 1927, Southern Champion Tray (SCT) manufactures high-quality paperboard packaging for retail food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical, bakery, food service and other products. Speed-to-market has become extremely important for SCT’s customers. As early adopters of digital printing, the company has incorporated a rapid-response model in their Mansfield, Tex., location, including an investment in an SEI Laser Paperone 7000 laser system for B1 sheet material. The Paperone 7000 will be installed in the summer of 2023.
“One of the biggest encumbrances for folding carton production is time spent waiting for dies, especially for new jobs,” says Brad Haralson, general manager of SCT’s Mansfield operations. “Laser cutting allows existing and new customers to defer or eliminate the initial tooling cost and reduce lead times. That was a big part of our decision to invest in an SEI Laser system for digital finishing.”
The Paperone 7000 delivers fast, efficient, high-quality cutting and creasing of B1+, 44.09” x 29.92” (1120 x 760 mm) sheet material for packaging and folding carton applications. Equipped with a fully automated setup, the Paperone 7000 can be controlled remotely to cut and crease both sides of the sheet. The laser is compatible with paperboard, PET, PP, BOPP and micro-flute corrugated. It offers modular options, including a manual or pallet loading automatic feeder, alignment table, single or multiple lasers, an offline system for creating creasing/embossing plates, and more.
SCT looked at all the options currently on the market. Tara Duckett, sales manager for SCT’s Mansfield operations, visited SEI Laser’s headquarters in Italy to see the machine and its features in person. Duckett was accompanied by North American distributor Matik, Inc., for in-depth testing of jobs that are part of their digital strategy. SCT was impressed with how the laser system would help them push jobs through faster while making smaller-volume production runs feasible for customers. Paperone 7000’s flexibility, variable cutting, and scoring options could help SCT achieve their rapid response goals.
“One of our priorities was speed and how quickly it could complete a project from start to completion,” says Duckett. “Additionally, it was very important that the quality matches what we are getting today with conventional finishing. We wanted to make sure there wasn’t any yellowing or burning where the laser was hitting the substrate. The SEI system delivered.”
To achieve creasing precision equal to traditional solutions with exceptional speed, SCT’s Paperone 7000 system is equipped with SEI’s innovative, proprietary male/female Origami creasing/embossing. The system is also capable of digital creasing (laser scoring) instead of a conventional crease. This feature is beneficial for micro-runs, sampling and prototyping with no additional creasing tools — all while maintaining a quality similar to conventional creasing.
“We tested to see if the system would produce a true score,” explains Duckett. “We don’t want imperfections, such as cracking, that would deem a carton unusable. We pushed it hard during testing to make sure that we got a high-quality product.”
Paperone 7000 addresses SCT’s speed-to-market initiative by isolating digital processes together. Keeping digital finishing with digital printing frees conventional assets for higher-volume runs. The SEI system also meets another primary concern for SCT — total cost of ownership after five years.
Educating customers about the technology will be an important part to the company’s ongoing success. Folding carton customers are still unfamiliar with the benefits of laser finishing. Part of the education process will show customers that technical challenges that lasers once faced are no longer an issue. SCT customers will be able to visit and experience how the Landa S10 Nanographic digital printing press and SEI Laser work together to deliver a fast, high-quality digital workflow.
“We believe there’s a tremendous benefit to our existing customers for products they need to move through at a faster pace,” adds Duckett. “To help differentiate their products, there’s also interest from customers that we aren’t working with yet, including smaller emerging brands. It will allow us to do more customization through cutting that can’t be achieved with traditional methods. We’re excited to see what this will do from a creative standpoint. It’s going to open new doors for us.”
Southern Champion Tray (SCT) Established in 1927 and headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., SCT is a third-generation, family-owned company that serves customers in the bakery, food service, institutional and retail packaging market segments, and distributes products throughout North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.