Significantly, the VersaUV also has the ability to print in white ink on foil stock, which has proven a critical capability for Wynalda Litho, Coy said.
“A lot of our packaging for the entertainment industry is designed to be run on foil,” he observed, adding that before the VersaUV came along, his company had no means of simulating UV spot coating on its prototypes. Demonstrating spot UV coating makes prototypes look far more like finished products, Coy said.
The VersaUV is also used to create proofs on substrates that can’t be run on Wynalda Litho’s other proofing equipment. “The VersaUV accepts such a wide range of media it can perform a variety of functions,” he said.
The process works this way. After receiving a work order for a prototype, Wynalda Litho creates a couple of ideas or variations on an idea, cuts the graphics and folds the result into prototype packages a client can actually hold.
“Within days, we will know if they did or did not like it,” Coy said. “If they don’t like it, you go back and give them more ideas for their product packaging.
“If they give the approval, they will then usually create a final file for us to print from. Then we will possibly do more proofing on other digital dot proofers. After that, we would be set to go to press.”
An offset press is used for all printing of packaging, he adds. Plates are made digitally for the offset press, but the printing is all analog, chiefly because of the size limitations inherent in digital printing. A big issue in packaging is costly waste, and the larger press available with offset printing makes it possible to fit more packages on a single sheet, minimizing waste, Coy said.
A print run may yield anything from 5,000 to millions of packages, which then go through a dye cutter machine to be cut and scored. The next step is a gluer, which folds up the package, and places glue on the glue flap.
The package ships in its folded configuration to the client, where it is popped open to be filled with product.
Avoiding Packaging’s Pitfalls
Precision is essential in the packaging field, Coy said. Echoing Mormile, he points out that the all-important package structure is as crucial as the design.
“There are a lot of package design issues you need to be aware of,” he said. “The package must run not only through your own production machines, but through the fulfillment devices used by your customer to insert its product. The design must take into account the manufacturing and fulfillment processes.”
In addition, consistency throughout a print run is imperative in packaging, because two packages of the same product sitting side by side on supermarket, pharmacy or electronics store shelves can’t look different from one another, Coy said. Devices that can be used to analyze color as sheets come out of the press are employed throughout the run to help ensure consistency, he explained.
“They need the right experienced people that understand a lot of those different processes, whether printing, dye cutting or gluing,” Coy observed. “It would make sense to hire that expertise, rather than trying to train.”
As we said at the outset, it may be possible for print providers to jump into “low-volume, on-demand” printing of packaging. But some clients still may have to be educated to that potential.
Mormile reported that as a package prototyper and short-run production house, his company has spent years trying to convince customers of the notion it not only can prototype one to 10 samples, but can also handle short-run production of from 250 to 1,000 packages or 1,000 to 2,000 point-of-purchase display headers, and do that short-run production more cheaply via digital printing than with by using traditional tooling, dye cuts, and printing plates.
If a client is spending $12,000 in tooling, the higher the print run, the less expensive each piece is, Mormile reported. “But at lower quantities, it very well may be more cost effective to do it digitally,” he added.