For the benefit of the pharma customer: K+D´s passion and Esko´s Equinox ensure a perfect color match

Ghent (Belgium), 16 May 2017 Pharmaceutical brand owners naturally demand perfect accuracy when it comes to printing their brand colors. It is a regulation and a precision driven industry and has been K+D´s core business since it was established at the end of the 19th century. K+D is based in St. Gallen, Switzerland and, like the country of its origin, the company is characterized by a passion for precision. In particular, for K+D, it is a passion for precision of folding carton packaging for pharma customers. And the passion to produce perfect accurate brand colors with Esko’s Equinox, the benchmark extended gamut print solution.


“Compare it with the Car Industry”

“Our mission is to be prepared to provide all packaging services needed by the pharma industry”, owner and CEO Stefan Kuhn says. “Compare it with the car industry, for example, where one company delivers different components across the entire supply chain. We do the same for the pharma industry with packaging”, Kuhn adds.

In this sense, the packaging specialist covers the entire portfolio to service their customers – from packaging design, data management, complex print and finishing up to supply management and security services.


Fit for the future with innovative technology

The company’s philosophy complements the company’s pharmaceutical competence and its commitment to be ready for future challenges by continuously investing into the latest innovative technology. Markus Naegeli, Head of Marketing & Sales at K+D says: “Cartons for the pharma industry is our passion.  We want to use the most innovative technology to serve our main markets, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. For example, in our prepress department we have worked with Esko prepress solutions such as WebCenter and Color Engine for many years.”

Deliberating about digital

One key trend Stefan Kuhn and his team have kept an eye on is the latest digital print technologies. Naegeli states: “Indeed we wanted to invest into digital printing technology. We spent a lot of time on evaluating digital print machines, but the technology is not yet ready to meet all the requirements for pharmaceutical packaging printing”.


Offset still going strong

So the company decided to continue investing in offset printing technology, while simultaneously paving the way for the digital print era. For their packaging production, the company purchased a new «manroland 708 LTTLV Evolution», the biggest 8-colour printing machine in eastern Switzerland, with eight inking units, two coating units and a cold foiling unit. This printing press now achieves in a single pass what used to be possible only in several consecutive passes. Moreover, ingenious pre-press stage software guarantees a fully digital workflow. The automatic conversion of the colors is already done in the prepress department.

Equinox - the benchmark to match Pantone colors

“The latest Esko solution we introduced is Equinox, an extended gamut print solution that enables us to be more flexible in view of our customers’ needs,” Markus Naegeli says. “Esko’s Equinox turned out to the best solution to meet the needs for extended gamut printing and to get prepared for the next technology step”, Naegeli adds. “By using Equinox, we are able to match about 95% of the Pantone colors.”

For many years, the use of the four process colors CMYK in combination with pre-mixed spot colors has been the gold standard approach to exactly match all the specific brand colors in the print process. However, the disadvantages of this process are obvious: the high costs of special inks, increased set-up times for job changeovers and the wastage associated with it.

That is why Extended Color Gamut Printing (ECG) has gained a lot of traction over the past years: using the four process colors CMYK along with additional process inks to reproduce more brand colors in a consistent, smooth and accurate way. Whilst there are various possible combinations or process colors for that purpose, the CMYK + Orange + Green + Violet has turned out to offer the largest gamut expansion.

Compared to the disadvantages of spot color printing mentioned above, there are many advantages in extended color gamut printing, from fewer inks on inventory, reduced job changeover times to less waste and shorter print runs. On the other hand Extended Gamut printing technology demands for more plates as for each print run more colors are used.


Reduced set-up times and increased flexibility

The demand for shorter packaging production runs due to a higher number of product variations is increasing, according to Markus Naegeli. “The benefits of extended gamut printing for the pharmaceutical industry are clearly the increased flexibility in our production,” he says. “We are able to reduce set-up times and therefore are able to meet shorter lead times which are requested by our pharma customers these days. We don’t have to change the colors in the printing press after each job. We change the printing plates and are ready for the next job. What’s more, the designers of our customers now have many more possibilities in using spot colors in their designs.”

Equinox signals readiness for digital printing

The Head of Marketing and Sales points out: “The implementation of Esko’s Equinox has not only resulted in a very high flexibility in design and print production. By taking this step, the company has  become ready to adopt digital printing when it is ready – thanks to the print quality that already today meets all requirements for adopting  100% digital technology.”

“We’d like to increase our competencies in pharma packaging further and further and want to maximize these to the benefit of our customers in the pharma industry”,  concludes owner Stefan Kuhn.


For more information, please find the video about this case study on Esko’s Youtube channel:


About K+D

K+D AG are a family company with headquarters in St. Gallen and a branch office in Bern-Liebefeld. It was founded in 1883 and has been managed and owned by the Kuhn family since 1934. Following the takeovers of E.Suter AG in Liebefeld (2004) and the «Packaging» business field of Huber PrintPack AG in Frauenfeld (2007), K+D AG has a headcount of around 100 employees.

With pharmaceutical competence and the latest technology, K+D AG develops and produces GMP-compliant, finished and counterfeit-proof cartonboard sales packaging for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. K+D AG are a market leader in Swiss pharmaceutical packaging printing.

Only bio-degradable or recyclable raw materials and resources are used. Through continuous investments in the latest technologies, the family company keeps itself fit for future challenges of the market. All production processes within the company meet the quality standards of ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 15378 (GMP, packaging for medicines) guidelines and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety).

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