Pira International projects that the worldwide digital print market for packaging will reach $6 billion by 2015. This is an opportunity printers can’t afford to pass by.
Technological innovation continues among leading equipment manufacturers, giving printers a variety of options that let them offer custom packaging to their customers. Xerox, for example, has a pair of solutions for printers, according to Brian Segnit, Xerox Worldwide marketing manager, Photo Publishing Graphic Communications Business Group. The first is Xerox Custom Media for packaging, which the company refers to as “an every quick printer opportunity”.
“All one needs to do is buy 100 sheets and they are in business,” Segnit says. Xerox developed pre-cut stock that easily converts to some of the most widely printed packaging applications (boxes, pop-up greeting cards, unique dimensional mailers, etc.) without the need for any finishing equipment. Customers can order one of the standard packages or work with a Xerox supply account manager to create a custom package of their own.
There is also the more robust iGen solution. Its elements include the Xerox Automated Packaging Solution powered by Stora Enso Gallop for the iGen4 press. It integrates the latest in digital printing technology with a versatile coating unit, a buffering stacker, and a custom die-cutter. With its modular architecture, the system is scalable to meet a range of packaging requirements. Says Segnit, “When you get into the packaging business it’s all about your image quality. In our 770 we’ve got an inline spectrophotometer. If you rerun that job in another six months you’re going to be able to go ahead and do that color matching. We’ve got a customer who is using it in the UK doing customized software boxes for Microsoft.”
The Epson Stylus Pro WT7900 printer was designed specifically for proofing flexographic and gravure print jobs that require the color white. The unit incorporates the latest achievements in high-resolution inkjet technology, including the company’s UltraChrome HDR White Ink, which introduces an all-new Organic Hollow Resin Particle Technology. This forces light to randomly scatter, producing the illusion of seeing the color white.
The method yields excellent white ink density and the ability for custom white color toning. It also provides professional short-term color stability for mission-critical color proofing on a range of new substrates, including inkjet coated transparent and metallic films. Unlike traditional white ink chemistry, it is also a safer water-based resin particle void of known carcinogens. Capable of printing directly on both inkjet coated clear and metallic films, in roll or cut sheets, up to 24 inches wide, it can proof virtually any size print job.
“This is a cool product—a 24-inch-wide printer that has the unique ability to print white as well as metallics,” says Mark Radogna, group manager, Professional Imaging, for Epson. “It’s used to produce most of the prototypes and mock-ups that the packaging industry needs before they go off and print up billions of them.”
Epson’s SurePress L-4033A is a short-run digital label press offered with pre- and postpress options that can be tailored to meet various needs and budgets. The unit capitalizes on Epson's MicroPiezo inkjet technology to create output with smooth gradations and accurate color quality. Its six-color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange, and green), industrial-quality, water-based ink set produces a range of colors. Driving this best-in-class inkjet technology are the included RIP and color management tools from Wasatch and X-Rite. It also offers substrate versatility: a variety of standard off-the-shelf substrates can be used at variable web widths up to 13 inches wide with no pre-treatment or top coating required.
“The unique thing here,” says Radogna, “is that since the image quality is always insanely high, we’ve created an extremely high resolution, high quality digital label press that is used for any type of packaging that requires a label or custom label.”