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Digital in Packaging


Proofs, Prototypes, and More


By Thomas Franklin


Part 1 of 2


A savvy print provider capitalizes on the capabilities of digital. This means understanding the varied service offerings that stem from such an infant technology. Packages and prototypes are an example. High-quality digital output provides customers with a nearly perfect example of the intended project.


Cost Effective, Time Saving

Proofs and prototypes are almost always in short runs, which is well suited and more cost-effectively done with digital print technology.


Many large scale packaging converters still make prototypes the old fashion way, says Randy Paar, display graphics product manager, Ocι North America. They produce a print with a color proofer, cut it to form with an x-acto knife and steel straight edge and glue it onto white cardboard stock. “This process is very time consuming and never looks as nice as a finished product—the paper gets dog-eared because the prototype is usually handled by many people,” explains Paar.


A digital UV press enables direct-to-corrugate output that can be laminated—so is tougher and won’t be damaged as it’s passed around. The quality is first rate too, suggests Ken Parsley, ValueJet product manager, Mutoh America, Inc.


“Our digital technologies allow companies to skip the tooling, die cutting, and plate making a traditional screen or offset press would require with the ability to print directly to the substrate and deliver the job to the customer,” shares Moshiko Levhar, worldwide product manager, high-volume solutions, Scitex division, Hewlett-Packard (HP).


“Digital technology is dramatically changing the packaging/prototyping market,” observes Hiroshi Ono, senior product manager, Roland DGA Corporation. “Shorter lead times, significantly lower costs, and greater flexibility are just a few benefits of digital technology. Brand owners can quickly produce variations of packaging designs or experiment with new concepts without incurring the high costs and longer lead time of analog systems.”


Variable Printing

Opportunity is not just in prototypes. “We see a lot of demand for regionalization, for packaging that’s more regionally targeted and relevant for specific areas,” recommends Willis Reese, global director of business development, INX Digital International Co. There’s also the opportunity to create specialized custom packages for VIP events, adds Paar. “You can create boxes with variable data, so packages are personalized,” he says.


“As the advertising industry shifts to a model with shorter and more versioned campaigns, medium runs of test marketing or local promotions are increasingly printed with digital solutions,” continues Levhar. “With the evolution of technology, higher productivity, image quality, and cost-effectiveness continue to drive the breakeven point for digital technologies into much higher quantities.”


Changed Landscape

From print to finishing, technological advancements change the landscape of the packaging and prototype market. Next week read about the ink sets used in package printing and if any will be approved for food contact in the near future.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Sep2010, Digital Output

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