At drupa this year, Fujifilm introduced its Flenex DLE System for flexo printing. Flenex will be a true game changer in that it will save significant time, labor, and consumable costs over current flexo plate technology, while providing very high quality output.
QP: What emerging trends do you see that might affect the packaging market in the future?
Fultz: Customization is a major trend and includes the need for regional versioning, multiple language versions of packages, special offers, and promotions printed right on the packaging. This leads to short-run printing and the need for low cost and high efficiency. Special corporate colors are also important as well as color consistency, which is critically important to major brands.
More environmentally friendly solutions will play a big part in packaging as greener, more sustainable solutions are demanded by print buyers and brand owners. Innovative designs in packaging, such as unique containers, total package shrink labels, and substrates will lead to changes in the market. There is a continued demand for shorter runs, specialized packages, multiple versions, and customization that will cause significant changes. There will be more prototype and short-run packaging as brands test products and markets. This will drive more use of digital technology to cost effectively produce these package applications.
QP: As more vendors and printers move into the packaging market, do you think there is a danger that it will become commoditized in much the same way that traditional print production has been?
Fultz: Packaging design and use of innovative print technologies make packaging less susceptible to commodization. Brand owners want to keep costs low, but are also keenly focused on shelf appeal and use packaging to position products and enhance brand value. Traditional print production does not offer as much opportunity to differentiate and add value, and is therefore more subject to commoditization.
As technologies advance, there is always the challenge of “faster, better, cheaper”; the key is to keep up with the technology, even ahead of it. Fujifilm provides its customers with innovative technologies that help to keep them ahead of the competition. New plate, ink, and digital technologies, all vital components of the Fujifilm portfolio, help our customers add value and reduce the risk of commodization.