The 2017 SGIA Expo, the annual expo hosted by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), took place Oct. 10-12 in New Orleans. The event was chock-full of educational sessions ranging from adding 3D Printing to tackling vehicle wraps. On the morning of Oct. 11, Rebecca McConnell, product marketing manager, Fujifilm, began with a session about digital corrugated technology called "Inkjet and Corrugated: Innovative and Untraditional Solutions." She explained that corrugated in general is moving more toward inkjet and that solutions have been developed to meet the shifting consumer demands and industry trends.
Although digital corrugated printing may not be considered "disruptive" yet because it is still an emerging technology, McConnell explained, in some circumstances, digital printing may be the only solution. Consumer demands will dictate the need for digital, such as shorter runs, faster turnaround, and customization and localization.
There is a proliferation in shorter runs because companies want to keep less inventory, there is a need for prototyping, many brands are launching more regionalized or short term campaigns, and many times corrugated is used for products that are being tested in the market.
Customers demand faster turnaround, which can be satisfied by digital corrugated solutions due to its shorter makeready times and elimination of platemaking.
McConnell acknowledged that brands have realized the need for differentiation, spurring the trend of more customization and localization. As an example, she pointed to a Smithers Pira study that reported in a store of 1,200 items, shoppers left the store having noticed only 40 items, highlighting the need for brands to stand out on shelf. In-store point-of-purchase displays are a good solution, especially for short-term campaigns.
McConnell provided a variety of solutions from Fujifilm to meet the shifting customer demands in corrugated, including the Inca Onset series made up of the Onset X1 LT, the Onset X1, the Onset X2 and Onset X3. The series provides scalable and upgradable equipment to expand capabilities and increase production. The series boasts 90% uptime, and McConnell stated that 75% of all Onset devices did not need a single printhead replacement in 2016.
"We don't look at printheads as a consumable at Fujifilm," she said.
Since corrugated can warp and be difficult to work with on a press, the vacuum strength on the devices can handle materials of varying thicknesses, including plywood.
"When you're testing we encourage to bring in the most difficult materials that you can," she said.
Before deciding to enter into the digital corrugated market though, McConnell stressed the importance of making finishing part of the conversation early on. If a finishing system cannot keep up with the speed of the printing device, it will create a bottleneck.
"You can print all day [digitally]," she stated, "but if you can't finish it, why print it?"
Finally, she suggested thinking through workflow early on in the adoption process. It's also crucial to ensure there is support and service available when it is needed, no matter the day or time.