Digital Printing--Coming on Strong
The role of digital printing is starting to take shape in the package-printing industry.
by Tom Polischuk, editor-in-chief
DIGITAL PRINTING FOR packaging is out of the starting blocks. It's new; it's exciting; it's expensive; and it's here to stay. As with any new technology, some are jumping in and some are watching from the sidelines, waiting to see if it's right for them.
Kevin Karstedt, president of Karstedt Associates, a consulting firm for the consumer product and package-printing industries, is in close touch with the movement of digital printing into packaging. He easily rattles off a number of recent installations including a range of digital printing solutions from Mark Andy, HP Indigo, Xeikon, Xaar, dotrix, and others.
Karstedt sees different implementations taking shape: digital printing in combination processes that include coatings and conventional flexo; stand-alone digital processes; and most recently, digital printing incorporated off press, onto the packaging lines. The following is a look at some of the different implementations and the companies that are pioneering the use of digital printing for packaging.
Digital label printing
Prestige Label Co. first got into digital printing in early 2001 when it purchased an Indigo Omnius Webstream digital press. What got the company into digital printing, says Prestige Label's President Elisha Tropper, was the belief "that a major segment of the label printing business will ultimately be digital." While his company is still committed to flexo printing, Tropper sees the market for digital label printing beginning to take shape within the conventional label printing market.
Prestige Label expanded its digital capabilities with the addition of an HP Indigo ws4000 Digital Press, which provides seven-color printing on a wide range of papers, films, foils, and card stocks. "We originally selected this technology [Indigo] because we felt it was the most advanced digital printing technology on the market for labels, and that it would readily mesh with our existing label business," says Tropper.