Inkjet has stamped its place in commercial printing, but will it ever mean more than coding and marking in package printing?
by Kate Sharon
"DIGITAL" IS THE buzzword in package printing today. There's digital printing, and even some diecutting, anilox engraving, and platemaking processes have been digitalized. But digital printing—specifically inkjet—is on the minds of many in the industry, and everyone wants to know how the new technology stands up to its conventional counterparts.
More and more inkjet products, designed for packaging applications, come to market each year. While the technology itself attracts attention, its big price tag and muted capabilities often turn converters away.
It's true that inkjet printers are more expensive than conventional presses, as are inkjet inks. Inkjet also requires printers to trade-off speed for image quality and vice versa.
However, for each negative attribute of inkjet, there's a positive. Most printers who call Curtis Miller, president of Printing Technology Services, Inc. (Clearwater, Fla.), are interested in new technology that will decrease their cost of printing, reduce hassles they've had with their current equipment, technology that's easier to use and is more flexible, and reduces their cost per run. "For the most part, inkjet will help," Miller said.
Inkjet also offers the inherent benefits of a digital workflow, including customer responsiveness, lower waste, and new market opportunities, said Luc Dupont, vice president sales and marketing at Aquaflex Inc. (St. Bruno, Quebec).
It's that kind of important information that's essential for package printers to know, which is why so many inkjet suppliers have turned into the industry's main inkjet educators. Printers need to know there's more to inkjet than ink cartridges, such as:
• Inkjet print heads are ink-specific. "People need to be educated on what's the right inkjet printer for them and what's the right inkjet ink for that printer," said Jason Oliver, sales and marketing director of Jetrion LLC's Integrated Solutions (Ann Arbor, Mich.). "They need to know what quality is possible and what inkjet ink is suitable for the substrates they use."