Since retailers cannot “digitize” packages on store shelves, industry watchers like to point out, the e-threat to package printers isn’t the same as converting printed pages into PDFs. Every print firm looking to increase sales in 2012 has his or her fingers on the pulses of two growing revenue streams: wide-format and packaging. Which is why using wide-format digital output devices to prototype, proof, and print packaging on demand may be the ideal specialty blend for profits this year.
Total output product value for packaging is in the range of $290 billion worldwide, according to I.T. Strategies. Affordable print technology and market need have combined to bring the promise of double digit growth to the digital packaging market. InfoTrends projected that digital packaging will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 15 percent between 2009 and 2014. While folding cartons and flexible packaging represent a relatively small base, revenues will show CAGRs of over 23 percent and nearly 20 percent, respectively.
Case in point: The Epson Stylus Pro WT7900 inkjet printer, which retails for just under $7,000, features the world’s first aqueous-based white printing technology. It is designed specifically for proofing flexographic and gravure print jobs that require the color white. The Stylus Pro WT7900 incorporates Epson’s latest achievements in high-resolution inkjet, including its UltraChrome HDR White Ink featuring an all new Organic Hollow Resin Particle Technology that forces light to randomly scatter, producing the illusion of seeing white. This innovative way to produce the color white yields an amazing white ink density, ability for custom white color toning, and provides professional short-term color stability for color proofing on a range of substrates. The WT7900 is capable of printing directly on inkjet coated clear and metallic films, in roll or cut sheet, up to 24 inches wide. And unlike traditional white ink chemistry, Epson UltraChrome HDR White Ink is a safer, water-based resin particle void of any known carcinogens.
Digital Niche for Packaging
Roland DGA VersaUV wide-format UV-LED inkjet printer/cutters are used for package prototyping, color proofing, and short-run labeling applications. For short-run label printing, both Roland DGA and Xanté offer high-quality digital solutions aimed at different market segments. For example, Roland’s VersaUV LEC Series printers are ideal for commercial printers looking to prototype high-end wine bottles. The printer is able to produce 100 personalized labels, each with a different name, serial number, or artwork. These printers are now available in 30-inch and 54-inch models and can print CMYK plus white on foils, BOPP, PE, PET film, and offset stock. Also, the short-run devices can add a clear coat for three-dimensional effects.
“The more elaborate the packaging or display stand, the more difficult it is to evaluate the effect on the basis of a white sample and a two-dimensional printout during planning and approval in the run-up to series production,” says Andreas Hanbuch, managing director of 60-year-old Hanbuch Packaging in Germany. “Since we installed the Océ Arizona 250 GT printer, our customers have received models that can no longer be differentiated from mass production. That makes it easier for the customer to make a decision, and it has already helped us to acquire some new orders,” he added. With the Océ flatbed digital device, there’s no more making samples from printed cardboard and simulating color effects using printouts and computer models.
“It is extremely important to the customer to test display stands, displays, and packaging beforehand,” Hanbuch continues. “For example, you want to and have to know the effect that an information box has in the shop, whether it is appropriate, clearly visible, and attracts attention.” This is why an increasing number of companies are having samples produced that are true to the original and can also be presented at sales and dealer meetings. At the same time, this also increases the acceptance of the planned communication measures with sales partners.