These Three Commercial Printers Found Success in Digital Packaging. Could You?
"We're moving more and more into packaging every day," Darren Tarlow, director of marketing at Impress Communications, told attendees during a webinar on May 24.
Traditionally a commercial printer, Tarlow explained that although the company still operates Komori sheetfed offset presses, industry trends have driven Impress to enter the packaging segment, first with traditional packaging solutions and eventually with digital packaging solutions. Most importantly, he said it's a segment that continues to grow.
Tarlow spoke during a Komori America-sponsored webinar hosted by Printing Impressions (and its sister publication In-plant Graphics), called "Digital Packaging – What Are You Waiting For?" Joined by two other commercial printers that have entered the packaging market - Todd Meissner, president of Color Ink, and Michael Zienty, pressroom/prepress manager at Premier Press - the panel discussed making the shift to package printing, what it means for their businesses, why businesses are looking at package printing and how to get started.
What to Expect When Adding Digital Packaging
Tarlow began the discussion by emphasizing the growth Impress Communications has seen with digital packaging, and how, along with its Xerox digital presses, the company's Highcon Euclid III digital laser diecutter is an integral part of its overall digital packaging approach.
He wasn't alone in expressing the benefits of digital packaging technology. Meissner echoed those thoughts, explaining that digital technology has its advantages, which can't be ignored.
"As we've made the transition to digital; good, bad or indifferent, the fact is, digital has evolved to allow us to automate so many processes throughout," he said.
Traditionally a litho printer that has also ventured into wide-format printing, Meissner described the various markets that digital packaging technology has allowed Color Ink to enter. For Color Ink, digital technology has reduced makeready times, increased its uptime, reduced waste, resulted in a cleaner print environment and it is more consistent in terms of color quality.
"I think digital has come close to rivaling litho quality," he said, "and, for short runs, it's just a better production method."
For Color Ink, Meissner said the transition to packaging was "by accident." However, if you're considering intentionally branching out into packaging, there are some challenges to consider. Meissner suggested four things to consider prior to making the leap:
- Having someone on-board who has some knowledge of structural design;
- Ensuring a "packaging-friendly" prepress workflow - the workflow on the front end is very important;
- Being able to offer a "total solution" to customers' packaging needs (i.e., printing, embellishing and finishing); and
- Making sure you have ink compatibility with paper, coatings, laminates, foil and more - each digital device is very different, so do your research.
Similar to Color Ink, Zienty of Premier Press explained that his company "leap-frogged" into the market with its Komori Impremia IS29 sheetfed UV inkjet press, but didn't have an initial plan to begin offering packaging solutions. Some of its existing customers wanted to test some packaging prototypes, so it began offering short-run packaging. And although the company didn't plan for the technology at first, Zienty explained Premier Press has had a lot of success with it in the past six to eight months.
Packaging Is a Print Market That Will Always Exist
"Packaging is going to be around forever," Zienty said. "There is plenty of opportunity for commercial printers to diversify. ... I can tell you that about 40% of the work that comes off of our digital press is packaging."
And consumer products aren't going anyway, Meissner added. Packaging demand will continue, and digital technology is a reasonably affordable investment for small or large printing companies to consider.
To hear more about the opportunities and processes, as well as recommendations for preparations when adding digital packaging technology, listen to the full webinar here. To explore other educational webinars, visit Printing Impressions' webinar page.
Related story: Convergence in the Print Industry