Digital printed packaging will reach a market value of $12.26 billion by 2016, delivering a compound annual growth rate of 20.6 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to forecasts from consultancy group Smithers Pira. In 2011, the global market value was worth $4.8 billion. While reflecting a...
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In fact, says Golan, allowing brands to maintain the same colors and packaging became the mission statement in designing the HP Indigo line of packaging presses: the HP Indigo WS6600 (narrow-web), 20000 (wide-web) and 30000 (sheetfed / paperboards).
HP is looking for a paradigm shift in the conversation about digital printing, and instead of talking about “ feeds and speeds, short runs and cost of ink, focusing on the role digital printing plays in the overall supply chain,” says Golan. “HP customers in the packaging industry on average transition 25 percent of their original business from analog to digital. The rest of the press capacity is used to fill new jobs received from current customers as well as net new customers who are attracted to the additional digital capabilities, such as customized variable data printing.”
Digital press speed does remain a challenge, especially in the folding carton arena. Within the prepress arena, top considerations are color management and the reliance of a good digital front end for package printers, says Larry Moore, vice president – Partner Programs, Esko North America. “Those features that are important to drive traditional print —structure, step & repeat— are just as important for digital print. And, color must match from one print process to another.”
Also, package printers need to rely on workflows and color management that can transfer traditional print to digital seamlessly, such as accurate color, image translation and structure, says Moore.
Whether it’s for niche or longer runs, the requirements are the same for digital or analog print, notes Vanover.
For its fastest system, the CENTRA HS Digital Label System, Allen Datagraph considers short runs to be about 5,000 linear feet of material or less. “However, one thing we’ve learned is that every printing facility is different, and their definition of ‘short run’ can be different as well,” notes Vanover.
Another facet, and one that is often overlooked, are digital packaging’s requirements on the back end. You need cost-effective short-run converting methods for finishing and filling, such as an Esko’s Kongsberg digital cutting table, says Moore.
“If you are running an auto-platen type die-cutter, it is likely that you have to plan to run 10-20 percent scrap, to account for set-up and press waste,” says Moore. “Beyond that, there are die costs and set-up times that factor in as well. That is why for short runs converters are looking for finishing devices suited to short run. Digital converting is best for short run converting. They do not require the overhead cost of dies, setup is very easy, and there is no need to allocate a portion of the runs for mis-registration and lengthy set-ups.”