Integrated Hybrid Digital: A Highly Attractive Option for Printers and Packaging Converters
Hybrid printing is a hot topic in the printing and printed packaging industries, but its definition tends to change slightly depending on who you are talking to. Some print shops profess to offer hybrid printing since they have both digital and analog technologies under one roof. The technologies are not integrated but are leveraged independently or sequentially through the print workflow. Other print shops leverage hybrid presses designed as standalone solutions with no integration of existing analog equipment.
However, there is a third option that is proving to be more and more popular with printers and converters adopting hybrid printing: integrating a digital solution that can match quality and printing speeds onto existing conventional equipment. This allows for a customized hybrid solution that is 100% tailored to the printing operation’s needs and breathes new life into the equipment without having to make a major financial investment.
Integrating a hybrid digital solution onto conventional presses is especially beneficial for mail, security, gaming, newspaper, label and corrugated printers, as well as folding and flexible carton converters. More than 1500 Kodak Prosper S-Series Imprinting Solutions have already been installed for a wide range of applications around the world. And, while it has been widely adopted in the commercial print markets mentioned above, packaging converters and brands are also quickly catching on to the value of integrating a digital solution onto their gravure, flexo and offset presses.
One of the key reasons for this has been the introduction of packaging inks and fluids that are safe for indirect food contact applications for folding carton, corrugated and flexible substrates. And, while packaging is increasing in volume printed, there are dramatic shifts to shorter runs and SKU proliferation, so a print run of 100,000 could really be 10 runs of 10,000 each. Brands are also significantly increasing their promotional programs and e-commerce initiatives to better connect with the consumer. However, these shorter runs and need to add variable content cannot be produced cost effectively with conventional equipment and at times are difficult to produce with a digital press format. That is where hybrid printing offers the best of both worlds, enabling variable content and design freedom for brands, while allowing their converters the cost effectiveness.
The opportunities that the integration of a digital system onto conventional presses brings are endless, although a good example for packaging takes us to Korea and China where emojis are the number one image used in promotions. Imagine the immediate flexibility and design freedom that a digital imprinting system like the KODAK PROSPER S-Series Imprinting system can bring!
Kodak is working closely with customers and prospects to determine the best hybrid set-up that will maximize their productivity. Today, package printers and converters can invest in a digital imprinting system that keeps up with their conventional equipment, running at speeds of up to 300 meters per minute while continuing to achieve exceptional quality.