Digitally Printed Packaging: Opportunity for Commercial Printers?
At PDI, a new 26˝ NexPress can handle calipers to 18-pt. and is big enough for some packaging applications, but most packaging is still produced offset. They see no demand for variable data for packaging, so the only rationale for digital would be short runs.
Louise Kralka, vice president of sales, advises that PDI also does litholam with a box company: they print, and the box company laminates. Printing is all done on a 56˝ offset press, as most displays need the large size. Kralka notes that she does not see a need for short-run or variable data printing for litholam, and adds that most litholam is well in excess of 40 percent ink coverage. This becomes problematic for water-based inkjet. They prefer the NexPress because "it offers a much wider range of substrates that can be used to obtain high-quality results."
Web-to-Print Workflow Opportunities
Landa's Rothschild does see the need for variable data emerging, noting, "Packaging is always on the cutting edge, and will continue to be. The opportunities go beyond cost reduction, and even beyond VDP for security, brand protection, track and trace or RFIDs—it is in producing high-value pages, new pages and new business."
Rothschild adds that there is even more potential with Web-to-print. "Web-to-print has changed the world of commercial printing during the last few years, and is expected to do the same for packaging." Customers can order from a template. With digital packaging print there is no prepress, setup is automatic, and versioning is cost-effective. She adds, "One small customer has 30 versions."
Now that it is possible to order products online, companies can get information about their customers, and build brand loyalty with personalized packaging. Companies as diverse as Lego, Heineken and Kiss My Face have found that when this is combined with social networking via Twitter or Facebook, the marketing effects can be powerful. Companies are learning the potential for enhanced CRM.