Offset Trends: Tying up the Package at drupa

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.

Koenig & Bauer (KBA)

KBA will showcase the latest generation of the sheetfed Rapida 105, with integrated Delta high-speed digital print capabilities developed by the Atlantic Zeiser Group. The new digital technology is designed for coding and serializing at high offset speeds to address the need for high-quality, individual coding and serialization for product tracking and forgery protection. The new configuration meets the need for “versatility in printing variable data onto different materials without extended setup times.” According to KBA’s Jurgen Veil, “A key point here is the integrated option to code and serialize sheet, label, and packaging printing variably inline.”

manroland web systems

Among the packaging-specific offerings from

manroland web systems are the Roland 708LV with a new

indexed foiler that is claimed to reduce foil consumption by 55 percent. The 708LV also has an inline coating unit, intelligent color pre-setting with “self-learning” software, and inline control technology with PDF comparison. Other packaging solutions on display will be the half-format Roland 500 and medium format Roland 700. In addition, manroland web systems now offers “larger formats five and six with the Roland 900 at speeds of up to 16,000 with the high speed packaging equipment.














Heidelberg will be showcasing its latest Speedmaster XL 105, an 18,000 sheet per hour perfector which offers converters the opportunity for double-sided carton printing. The press now allows processes such as blind and hot foil, relief and micro embossing, as well as foiling and high-gloss UV varnishing, which permits in-line production of folding cartons with metallic effects for the first time. The six color XL 105 has a dual coating unit for aqueous and UV and full interdeck UV drying. According to Heidelberg, “UV applications are enjoying continuous growth in both high-quality packaging printing and high-end commercial printing.”












Of course, there is a lot more to see at drupa 2012, including, some of the digital offerings in the packaging arena. It will be interesting to see how much of a sea change will occur in this market segment between now and drupa 2016.