C&T Matrix manufactures creasing matrix, a consumable product which is an integral part of the manufacture of cardboard boxes, cards, point of sale material and the like. A creasing matrix enables folds to be made in cardboard and facilitates accurate high quality creasing prior to folding, enabling cardboard to be creased automatically and accurately by high speed box making and printing machines.
C&T Matrix is one of two leading manufacturers in the world and offers over 3,000 size variation of creasing matrix with a comprehensive range of allied products. A wide variety of matrix dimensions (channel depth and width) are required to accommodate different cardboard and paper sizes. It is critical that all the component parts of the matrix are precision engineered to tight dimensional tolerances to ensure smooth running of the box-making machinery.
C&T Matrix operates from its factory in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, where it runs its proprietary production equipment. Manufacturing of creasing matrix occurs through three in-line automated extrusion and assembly production steps. The production technology has been purpose designed and built from available machinery components using its own engineering expertise and tool shop.
The main raw material ingredients are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) - these however only represent a minor part of the production cost compared to tooling and processing costs.
The factory operates on a single, day shift basis, and has the plant capacity to increase production to meet extra demand.
Products are exported to approximately 80 countries through a network of distributors who maintain local stocks and have generally exclusive arrangements with C&T Matrix. Relationships with the majority of these distributors have been in place for 10 years or more. Its customers are principally suppliers and stockists of consumable products to the printing and packaging industry.
Orders are placed regularly (for large distributors at least monthly) and offering a rapid service across a wide range of product types and sizes is a key part of C&T Matrix’s business model.
C&T Matrix accounts for approximately 13% of Group sales. Sales were £6.4m for the year ended 31 March 2016.
A creasing matrix is a consumable plastic strip which is used in the manufacture of cardboard boxes and packaging. The creasing matrix enables the cardboard to be accurately and automatically creased at high speed, allowing it to be subsequently folded and formed into the desired box. The dimensions of the matrix differ to accommodate varying board and paper thicknesses.
There are four components to a creasing matrix, which are automatically assembled together:
- A locator (extruded EVA)
- Curved profile shoulders - the matrix (extruded PVC or pressed paper)
- Micro-thin polyester base film
- Self-adhesive tape
The constituent parts require precision engineering to ensure smooth running of the box making equipment.
C&T manufactures approximately 3,000 size variations producing one million metres of product per month.
How it works
In a die-cutting machine, the cardboard for a box is cut and creased by a bespoke die constructed of a wooden counter plate and steel dies. The locator is placed over the creasing rule to ensure that the creasing matrix is position correctly on the counter plate - the backing tape is then removed and as the counter plate and steel dies are brought together for the first time, this sticks the creasing matrix to the counter plate pulling it off the creasing rule. The locator is then removed so just leaving the shoulders and the film base stuck to the counter plate.
The crease is then formed as the rounded creasing rule forces the cardboard into the middle of the creasing matrix as the cardboard passes over the creasing matrix. The curved profile shoulders of the matrix are designed to ensure that the board passes over the matrix smoothly allowing the speed of the die-cutting machine to be maintained.
One of the key elements of the whole process is the simplicity and speed of set up of each die for each production run. As significant capital is invested in the die-cutting machine users require a quick turn round between jobs.
The traditional method of creating the crease in boxes involves a considerable degree of skilled manual intervention to cut the creasing channels by hand.
C&T Matrix also has some secondary products, specifically ejection rubbers and other printing accessories which complement its creasing matrix business.
- Scale and experience in the manufacture of plastic creasing matrix
- Long standing and wide-ranging global distribution relationships
- A comprehensive product range over 3,000 products
- Good service and quality reliability
Benefits of creasing matrix
There are other ways to crease cardboard rather than by the use of creasing matrix, but these either require the use of machined counters, which are costly and inflexible, or by involving a considerable degree of manual processing which is laborious and time consuming.
Creasing matrix therefore has the following advantages over these other methods:
- Enables the cardboard, at low cost, to be accurately and automatically creased at high speed by box-making machines
- Allows for a quick change over when setting up a new production run
- Can be used for run lengths of up to 100,000 impressions
- Represents a very small part of the cost of cardboard box manufacture
The global market for creasing matrix and related accessories is estimated to be +£20m.
The potential market is significantly greater as manual processes still take place in less developed countries. Furthermore, the expected growth of packaging in less developed countries, as they industrialise, provides additional opportunities for growth in these territories. The key markets are the USA, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, India and China as well as Western Europe.
C&T Matrix is believed to have a market share of approximately 40%.
There is only one significant competitor in the creasing matrix manufacturing market which is a German company, with a market share of approximately 50%.