Virtual Packaging to Become Digital Packaging Pioneer with Addition of Highcon Beam
When walking the fairgrounds at drupa, complete with nearly 20 halls jampacked with the latest printing and converting equipment, it can be hard to keep track of all of the innovative solutions that can have a significant impact on a business. But for Monty and Jordan Patterson of Virtual Packaging, one of the booths that made a lasting impact was Highcon’s, which had the power of digital cutting and converting on full display.
For Virtual Packaging, a Grapevine, Texas-based firm specializing in packaging prototypes, seeing the Highcon equipment triggered a desire to expand its business beyond prototypes, and into short, production length runs of folding cartons, complete with cuts and creases that it hadn’t been able to produce before. Upon returning home from drupa, Virtual Packaging made the decision to invest in a 40˝ digital press, which it will pair with a Highcon Beam, a digital cutting and creasing solution capable of processing up to 5,000 40˝ sheets per hour.
In addition to the speed of the machine, Jordan Patterson, director of administration at Virtual Packaging, said he is particularly excited about the new capabilities digital cutting brings to the table that most conventional systems aren’t capable of. One, he said, is the Beam’s ability to cut on a crease line. But what really makes Highcon’s equipment stand out is the intricacy of the cuts it provides.
“Because of Highcon’s system, you’re able to do some very intricate and unique cuts,” Patterson says. “You couldn’t make a die to do some of the cuts that the Highcon can do. It would tear or rip the board. It just wasn’t possible.”
With these new capabilities brought in house, Patterson says the Virtual Packaging team is excited to work with its customers to develop packaging that helps its products stand out on the shelf. One of the most important aspects of a package is its ability to entice a consumer to pick it up while in store, Patterson explains, as the chances of a product being purchased greatly increase if a consumer holds the package while shopping.
“R&D departments will have a good time with everything the Highcon will be able to give them,” Patterson says. “And for us it gives us something fun to sell – something that only we can do in the packaging space.”
According to Matt Bennett, VP of sales and GM for Highcon Americas, it was particularly exciting to work with Virtual Packaging because it will be the first company in North America to incorporate a Highcon Beam into an all-digital B1 packaging ecosystem. Bennett explains that the unique environment Virtual Packaging will bring its Beam into will provide the company with the full slate of advantages an all-digital ecosystem provides.
“With the combination of the digital press and the digital cutting and creasing, they’re able to go to their customers with capabilities that nobody else in the market can do,” Bennett says. “The ability to do variable data cutting was very important to them, along with the ability to do personalized and customized boxes in a way that would separate and differentiate them from the other people in the market. Those were the most important things to Virtual. They wanted to be able to clearly differentiate themselves from everybody else in the field.”
With the Beam scheduled to be delivered by the end of March and installed by mid-April, Patterson says the team at Virtual Packaging is excited to begin working with the machine. He explains that prior to installation, a group of Virtual’s employees will head to Israel for training at Highcon’s facility, and upon returning home, will undergo further training once the Beam is installed.
Patterson says that part of what made the relationship between Virtual and Highcon so successful was the common enthusiasm between the two companies. Both sides shared a positive mindset, and were willing to go above and beyond to make sure Virtual Packaging received the right solution for their needs.
For example, Patterson says that Brian Shepherd, the Highcon sales representative Virtual worked with, demonstrated this commitment when he drove nearly five hours from his home in southern Texas to Grapevine, which is located just outside of Dallas, to meet with the Virtual Packaging team.
“If they’re doing that on the sales side of things, I know when it comes to service and maintaining this machine over the next five, six or seven years, they’re going to be on the ball and we won’t have to worry about anything – it’s great service and a great product,” Patterson says.