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A roadmap to automation and other takeaways from Drupa

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May 27, 2024 in Features
By Martin Thornton, Business Segment Manager

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At a time when so many manufacturing processes are being digitalized, workflow automation has become an absolute necessity for efficient and profitable digital cutting/finishing. With increasing demand for just-in-time production, smaller order quantities, and ever-faster turnaround, the need for reliable automation becomes even more pressing. It is no wonder “automation, automation, automation” is the buzzword reverberating throughout the industry, and along with it comes the vague threat—if you don’t automate, you will be left behind!

So what exactly does that mean for any individual graphics or packaging manufacturer and their particular production environments? As is the case with most things, one size does not fit all. Indeed, there are many factors to consider before investing in any kind of automation technology. Here are just a few of them:

  • What: What is your application? Consider what materials need to be cut or otherwise processed (creased, perforated, punched, etc., with specialized tooling) and in what form they come (in rolls, sheets, boards)? What part of your production workflow needs to be automated and how difficult will it be to integrate any new automation in your existing environment?
  • Where: Where are the biggest pain points in your digital production and what is causing them? What phase of production takes the most time and manual effort and/or is the most prone to causing errors and bottlenecks downstream?
  • Why & When: Why are you looking to automate? Consider both your short- and long-term goals with an eye toward ensuring whatever technology you are investing in will serve both and is adaptable if and when market demands may change.
  • Who: Who are you purchasing from? How willing is the supplier to work with you to tailor the automation to your needs, integrate it in your existing workflow, and ensure its viability and longevity for years to come?
  • And finally, how: How reliable is the automation you are looking to buy into—without consistency and reliability, there is no ROI to be gained from any kind of automation. 


Zünd performance across the board

To help packaging and display manufacturers navigate their journey towards successful workflow automation, the “Zünd Performance across the board” exhibit at Drupa features a wide range of options—all of them in keeping with Zünd’s top priority to digitalize and automate the value chains of its customers in order to make them more productive and competitive. To this end, Zünd’s cutting solutions are increasingly capable of producing independently and autonomously.


A Drupa premiere: Zünd Q-Line with BHS180

Zünd Automatic Tool-Changing System

Zünd Automatic Tool-Changing System—as pictured for Q-Line (Photo credit: Zünd Systemtechnik AG)

With the new Q-Line generation of cutters marking its tradeshow premiere at Drupa, Zünd has once again raised the bar for fully automated, industrial, pallet-to-pallet production. The latest, by now 4th generation of Zünd digital cutting systems features smart machine-control technology, a linear drive system for unprecedented cutting speeds without any loss of accuracy, and reliable, advanced workflow automation. The new Q-line substructure is made from highly stable mineral casting. It ensures incredibly smooth operation and optimum cutting precision even when working at high speeds. Carbon-fiber reinforced plastic beams are lightweight yet exceedingly strong. This enables very precise cutting even of challenging materials at maximum speeds. The Q-Line with BHS180 is a comprehensive, advanced system solution that takes digital production to a new level, enabling fully automated, uninterrupted, unsupervised digital cutting of packaging and POP displays.


A complete portfolio for productive digital cutting

As another example of innovative solutions leading to greater productivity and profitability, the board-loading extension with UNDERCAM optical capture system, originally developed for the Q-Line, is now also available for Zünd’s 3rd generation G3 cutting systems. It enables semi-automatic board feeding, job identification via QR code, and registration while production is ongoing. This significantly increases productivity, particularly in cases where cutting and creasing need to be done on the reverse side of the board.


Q-Line UNDERCAM scanning system

Q-Line UNDERCAM scanning system now also available for Zünd G3 (Photo credit: Zünd Systemtechnik AG)

Robotic devices are another option for increasing material-handling efficiencies. Eliminating tedious manual tasks, the Robot PortaTable 130. equipped with a robotic arm, automatically picks cut/finished parts and sorts them by placing them in designated locations or bins on an off-load table. The PortaTable is designed to be mobile, which means it can quickly and easily be set up and moved from one Zünd cutting system to another.


Robot PortaTable

Robot PortaTable for automated Pick&Place – movable from one
Zünd cutter to another (Photo credit: Robotfactory/Zünd Systemtechnik AG)

To simplify manual picking & sorting, Zünd also offers a Visualizing Option which provides visual identification of cut parts and QR-codes, all designed to simplify order tracking, facilitate cutting and kitting, and ensure smooth, efficient logistics—from start to finish.


And what about software?

To get the most out of hardware capabilities, intelligent control software and digital workflow automation are indispensable. Here, too, Zünd offers a diverse and growing portfolio of solutions designed for all requirements and applications. First and foremost, Zünd Cut Center – ZCC 4.0. The Zünd operating software has been fully re-engineered and now features an impressive, yet intuitive, state-of-the-art user interface based on touch. Zünd Cut Center helps users optimize their digital production before, during, and after the cutting process. As is the case with all other components of Zünd cutting systems, users need only purchase the software capabilities they need – no more, no less. More options can be added anytime as their need for automation continues to grow.

Then there is Caldera PrimeCenter, the software for simple and automated print & cut file preparation in just a few clicks. With fully customizable workflows and such time-saving features as automatic true-shape nesting for maximum material yield, preflight checks to eliminate errors and subsequent bottlenecks downstream, PrimeCenter delivers the level of automation that best matches users’ production needs.


You have arrived.

…at least at the end of this exploration of digital cutting automation. Where to next? In case you didn’t get to see the latest in Germany, no worries! Simply visit  for more details on all Zünd digital cutting & workflow solutions, and email to embark on your own journey to automation…at a Zund America Experience Center closer to you.



Beatrice Drury, Zund America Communications Manager,
tel: 414-574-4836 |



Martin Thornton headshot

Martin Thornton | Business Segment Manager |
Zund America, Inc. | 8142 S 6th Street | Oak Creek, WI 53154
T: 414-433-0700 | E: |


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