Digital Does It
Digital printing is in its early stages of adoption in package printing, but it promises to add real value to any converter's capabilities.
packagePRINTING POSED A series of questions to experts from companies that are actively involved in different aspects of digital printing. The following are their responses.
pP: What are the main strengths that digital printing has to offer package printers?
Chris Faust, director of business development, Chromas/Aquaflex: The main strength is variability—this can be in the form of barcodes, numbers, and languages.
Don Bence, VP, labels and packaging, Xeikon America, Inc.:
• Low cost proofing on actual substrates;
• Very short runs are economical to produce and affordable for the package buyer;
• Prototyping for market testing can be expanded with numerous entries;
• Sequential barcoding, numbering, and marking can be integrated in the print run;
• Package postponement—printing only what is needed, when needed results in inventory reduction, reduced obsolescence and waste, and the ability to make last minute changes;
• Demographic and regional positioning/customization is affordable.
Ken Daming, product manager, Mark Andy, Inc.: The two obvious strengths that digital printing offers to package printers are the ability to drastically reduce set-up time and to reduce turnaround time. By eliminating the need to mount plates and set up the printing station, the converter can reduce set-up time and waste to almost nothing, drastically increasing productivity. Because they don't need to make printing plates and can get the job on the press quickly, they can gain an extremely short turnaround time back to their customer—and be able to charge for this service.
Ray Dickinson, product marketing manager, HP Indigo: Broadly speaking, digital printing can help a converter be more profitable and grow his business. Digital printing supports smaller quantity runs and faster turnarounds because it cuts out many steps in the printing process. A typical time requirement for a user of packaging materials to change a product averages 17 to 24 weeks, and most of this time is due to the change in packaging (design, implementation, and working through inventories). Digital printing can significantly reduce this time, allowing the user of the packaging materials to be more flexible and competitive.