There is no doubt that color digital printing has made inroads into the color offset printing market. However, it has not had a major impact on the packaging market—so far. In fact, by some estimates labels make up about 95 percent of color digital printing in the label and packaging arena. After my recent trip to Israel to see the new HP Indigo 10000 B2 digital press and its soon-to-arrive offspring—the 20000 and 30000, aimed at the folding carton and flexible packaging markets—I expect to see color digital have more of an influence in the packaging and label arena in the near future. After all, digital color players such as HP Indigo, Xerox, and Kodak can’t be expected to stand still.
That said, until lately the real battle in the packaging arena has been between flexography and offset, with digital a relatively minor player. However, packaging is one of the more attractive growth areas for printers of all kinds since it is one of the most resistant to electronic alternatives. You can’t email a box of cookies or push a frozen pizza through the Internet. Just about everything we bring into our homes or offices is or has been in a printed package of some sort—including all the electronics that have helped eat into the print market volume.
According to Goss International’s Peter Walczak, “While packaging has not been directly threatened by electronic alternatives and remains a growing print sector, the pressures on packaging producers mirrors those found in other sectors.” That leaves package printers looking for more efficient and effective presses to meet their needs.
At drupa 2012, vendors such as Goss, Heidelberg, Komori, manroland, KBA, etc. will be showing the latest offset press developments for package printers. Here are some highlights of what to expect.
In an effort to demonstrate “the productivity and print quality advantages of web offset,” Goss will showcase the Sunday Vpak 3000 and Sunday Vpak 500 presses for the first time outside of the Goss manufacturing facility. According to Goss, the two presses are based on the “groundbreaking” Sunday gapless press concept and make web offset an “attractive alternative for folding carton, flexible packaging, pre-print, and label printing.” The Vpak 3000 is available in web widths of up to 75 inches, while the Vpak 500 is available in widths up to 41 inches. The two units will be demonstrated in a dedicated Packaging Theater at drupa.
Ryobi is showcasing new sheetfed printing presses along with advances in LED-UV curing and specialty casting and foiling. The perfector Ryobi 928P is the latest addition to the eight-up Ryobi 920 series delivering up to 16,000 sph, with an instant LED-UV curing system. The 755G is a six-up, five-color press with coating unit and LED-UV curing which can handle a wide range of substrates. The Ryobi Casting and Foiling system for the 42-inch Ryobi 1050 series can handle holograms, special effects, foiling, and chemical embossing. The Ryobi 525GX is two-up, five-color press for small and medium-sized printers.
Komori will also have a packaging-specific area, the Packaging Printing Theater, to show off its five-color Lithrone G40 and to debut its new Lithrone GX40 carton press. The GX40 is equipped with H-UV and is designed for packaging and specialty printing applications. The 41-inch press is equipped with Komori’s non-stop delivery, fully automated plate changing, and can handle board substrates up to 40pt. Also on display will be the two-camera PQA-S inspection system, which works in tandem on the same side of the sheet to enhance resolution and print quality. This feature is especially critical for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics packaging markets.