How Package Printers Are Using Certification Programs to Elevate Their Businesses
As the number of label and package printers simultaneously contracts and expands with consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, and growth from the number of commercial printers entering the package printing markets, the need for firms to both differentiate and standardize also grows. There’s one tool that is more widely adopted by commercial printers, but can also help label and package printers compete in this dynamic market. Ray Weiss, VP of eLearning and Certifications at PRINTING United Alliance, explains, “A certification can open the door to a project that may have been closed before.”
Brands are demanding certifications because they want to ensure that packaging suppliers are working to industry standards. We can expect this demand to increase as instability in transportation costs grow. Why? Because brands, especially those that sell fast-moving consumer goods, often look to distributed manufacturing to reduce fuel costs and the eco impacts of their packaged products. But these same brands don’t want color shifts in their packaging to incorrectly cause shoppers to perceive one product on the shelf to be of higher quality or freshness than another. Brands also demand this consistency, no matter if their packages are on shelves in Nevada or New York.
Reducing the variables in the printed packaging, Weiss explains, starts with good color management and quality training. “Color management training that’s worthwhile will cover process control and a system of verifying that the color specified is the color being printed,” he says.
The process of obtaining certification can also make great label and packaging printers even better. Simmy Coscia, director of prepress and design at PPC Flexible Packaging’s facility in Payson, Utah, explains that the package printer was already known for its high-quality printing when it strived to achieve G7 certification. Still, the path to G7 certification wasn’t easy, especially because they were a flexible packaging firm instead of a general commercial printer. “Plastic is a very difficult-to-control material, and G7 certification requires your color balance to be perfect, the gain to be even, and the highlights to be controlled,” she explains. “We felt like astronauts discovering new territory.”
Like the astronauts on the SpaceX team, the endeavor required PPC Flexible Packaging’s teams, including those in prepress, plate mounting, and flexographic press operations, to work tirelessly, yet collaboratively, toward their common goal. But as Coscia can attest, once they reached said goal, the view was incredible — high quality, repeatable color flexo printed on film.
Furthermore, and similarly to how innovations made in pursuit of space travel can result in significant advancements outside of the initial projects, quality improvements gained through participating in a certification program, such as G7, can benefit more than just the individual printing firm. Weiss explains, “Consistent quality and color, which come from printers understanding and implementing standards and good process control, can allow for higher margins for all printers, and that’s good for each printer and the industry as a whole.”