According to EFI, Radius users achieved nine percent or greater profit margins at twice the rate of other packaging companies.
For one of HP’s Scitex large-format packaging producers, Heritage Paper, the profit opportunity comes from faster production speeds and better quality.
The Livermore, CA-based firm knows the benefits of advanced digital packaging printing more than most. Heritage had used large-format flatbed printers for packaging for some time, but “we used to have to slow down printing to avoid heavy banding. And we had to laminate to get gloss, which was costly and meant the prints weren’t recyclable,” according to Heritage’s Michael Musgrave.
When the company installed an HP Scitex FB series flatbed last year, it was not only able to run at rated production speeds, it was able to achieve get high-quality packaging on a wider range of substrates, including corrugated board. The Scitex device also alleviated the need to send medium-run printing out for lithographic printing at a local trade shop.
Heritage’s clients are more likely to order digital now, as well. Small business customers, including several Northern California premium wineries, now purchase high-end packaging and displays in the smaller quantities they require, and larger customers looking to streamline their packaging supply chains are switching from flexo to digital printing on the HP Scitex device to move to more sustainable, just-in-time manufacturing.
The Future of Packaging
Large-format professionals who manage to turn packaging from a niche offering to a core part of their businesses should have many new technological developments to look forward to as digitally printed packaging becomes faster and more versatile. HP, for instance, is in the midst of commercializing new 30-inch-wide Indigo electrophotographic digital presses specifically for flexible packaging and folding carton production.
Indigo’s founder, Benny Landa, unveiled a series of digital presses from his new venture, Landa Nano. The new lineup of technologies, which includes packaging presses use a new, inkjet-based “nanography” imaging process, but are not expected to be commercially available until late 2013 or early 2014.
While digital presses like the HP Indigo are often touted for their ability to develop personalized print collateral, in packaging, the key with digital is not so much one-to-one personalization as it is functional, targeted brand customization that can drive sales in ways that are not economically feasible with the analog printing world. Digital gives brands the ability to break product lines into multiple SKUs of targeted brands or versions of product – with languages, product flavors or varieties, or tie-in promotions with a non-profit cause – to create better-selling products that speak to specific audiences.
For graphic arts professionals, the opportunity is not just about capturing a shift from analog to digital print, it is an opportunity to make packaging an even bigger part of the product marketing picture.
“A package has a dual purpose: to cover and protect the product and also to communicate a message to consumers from the brand owner, the manufacturer or the seller,” according to HP’s Ifhar. “In order to grow revenue, increase profitability and differentiate themselves from competitors, brand owners and print buyers are demanding more targeted applications with very short time to market.
“This quick turnaround and customization is where the benefits of digital printing come into play,” Ifhar added. “Digital print providers, who are already experts in using digital technology to create retail displays, are perfectly positioned to capture these new, high-value opportunities and differentiate their offering.”