Combine and Conquer
Divide and conquer may be the key to success in some endeavors, but for package printers, combining processes is a clearer way to winning.
COMBINATION PRINTING MEANS different things to different people, but that's the nature of the beast. It includes different printing processes, along with various other processes, to accomplish one thing—add value to the printed product.
That is the game—adding value to the product to meet customer needs. By combining a number of processes, printers can use the strengths of each particular process to provide the best possible look for a product.
There are several requirements driving the popularity of combination printing, but they are all rooted in competition at the store shelf. Steve Leibin, sales manager for Matik North America (a distributor of Omet and Codimag printing presses), lists three interrelated needs that package printers are being required to meet: better print quality; improved shelf presence; and demand for products with the "no-label" look, reverse-printed, or with metallic/fluorescent labels.
Printers can achieve these results "by combining the unique characteristics of each printing process to offer labels with more visual impact," says Leibin. For example, screen printing can provide high hiding power and high color strength more effectively than flexo. With screen, converters can lay down a solid white on transparent self-adhesive materials. With gravure, Leibin says printers can print heavy metallic or fluorescent inks, varnishes, or thermo-sensitive inks for special effects. "The addition of screen, gravure, and hot-foil units are the most sought after combination printing units on the OMET Varyflex press," he states.
Ted Barry, executive VP for Matik, says the most popular combination press from Codimag (besides hot-foil stamping) has been screen with offset or letterpress. "Codimag and Stork have developed a semi-rotary screen unit that has been very successful," he says. "Many customers use the screen to put down a white pad on a clear label, then print offset over it."