Substrates & Media—What You Need To Know
We’ve all probably said it at one point or another: “this industry is all about putting ink on paper.” It’s an oversimplification, to be sure, and our industry has evolved to encompass more ways of communicating. But at its very core, print and graphics is about putting the ink on the paper.
But even as the “ink” has changed and now can encompass any one of a number of technologies and processes, “paper” has also evolved. Today, this industry is rich with creativity, finding new materials to print on, and new ways to help clients stand out from the crowd. As you walk the PRINT 17 show floor this year, however, there are a few overarching trends to watch for.
“A major trend in printing substrates is sensory and aesthetic appeal,” says Mellissa Campbell, Marketing Coordinator, Masterpiece Graphix (Booth 3143). “Printers are looking for materials that attract and connect customers to brands and products. The demand is for substrates that change the customer’s interaction with the printed piece; a material that is more than just regular paper.”
Jack Smith, SVP, HOP Industries (Booth 558), agrees, noting that, “The biggest trend in substrates is the increased use of synthetic paper, because it is durable and long lasting when printing on a variety of applications where the substrate needs to hold up for an extended period of time under harsh conditions.”
Smith went on to note that the trend is being driven by the brands, who aren’t just relying on the creative itself to stand out, but on the material it’s printed on as well. “This growth trend is being driven by consumer brand manufacturers choosing a more sustainable image that will make their brands stand out over a longer period of time—from three to 12 months—in terms of print quality and durability over pulp-based substrates. Companies are choosing synthetic paper because it will not deteriorate when exposed to rain, humidity, sunlight, and extreme temperature changes. It’s also an environmentally-friendly substrate that is 100% recyclable.”
Packaging is an area that Ron Sams and Jason Elliott, Vice Presidents of Sales, manroland web systems (Booth 1067), agree is seeing some of the most change when it comes to the materials used. They note that it’s not just printers looking for new substrates to use on their digital presses either. There is just as much interest in finding new materials that will run well on offset presses. “One of the trends for packaging printers is the increased interest in considering offset printing on film substrates as opposed to—or in addition to—flexo or rotogravure. Packaging printers are interested in offset for three major reasons: (1) the ability to print higher quality images; (2) reduced changeover of offset vs. either flexo or rotogravure; and (3) lower plate costs.”
But no matter what type of printing your shop focuses on, or what technologies you use to create it, the demand for new and innovative materials to print on will only continue to rise. PRINT 17 is an excellent opportunity to see these trends in action: make sure you check out not just the material vendors, but the press manufacturers as well, to see what creative applications they have come up with that you might be able to take home and implement with your own customer jobs.