Change is Good
Digital technology, working with conventional processes or on its own, is making package personalization a more tangible marketing tactic.
by Terri McConnell
The label and packaging industries were among the first to harness the power of digital technology for variable data printing. Employing ion deposition and inkjet print heads driven by computerized controllers, we've been marking products with bar codes, expiration dates, security codes, and sequential numbers for a long time. But we may have only scratched the surface of the potential offered by the latest crop of digital printing solutions.
In its most highly evolved form, variable data printing is the science of making every single page, label, or carton in a press run totally unique. For marketers with access to terabytes of consumer information, this means printed communications can be tailored not just to trends or broad demographics, but to an individual's lifestyle, tastes, and buying habits.
The advantages of one-to-one marketing are obvious in many information-driven segments of document and commercial color printing. Variation printing can also create new opportunities for packaging brand managers and line developers, however. Let's take a look at how three digital printing equipment vendors, tuned in to the need for cost-effective shorter runs, and the desirability of personalized, regionalized, and otherwise acutely targeted package decoration, are positioning their technology for deeper penetration into the packaging markets.
Five years ago, press manufacturer Didde, now Chromas Technologies, Inc., and 16 label and packaging converters in Europe and North America formed the Digital Label Alliance (DLA). The goal of the group was and is to develop digital printing and converting technologies for the packaging industry.
Chromas will unveil the DLA's latest achievement next month at Labelexpo in Chicago. According to Marketing Director Jason Oliver, the ARGIO 75SS is the first digital system specifically designed to run with a mixable base set of UV inks. Focused on single spot color applications, the ARGIO is a 600 dpi, 100 fpm digital print station that can be retrofitted to conventional roll-fed offset or flexo presses. Featuring a Windows NT controller with a Harlequin RIP and optional variable page layout program, the system is operated by a press-side touch-screen interface.