Is Packaging Finishing's Future?
I happened across a pretty thorough analysis of the U.S. printing industry last week. It made for interesting reading. The "ouch" part is that there is no doubt that a large portion of the U.S. printing industry is in negative growth mode. The part that caught my attention was that the packaging side of print has been the least affected portion of the industry.
Unlike many printed materials that can be digitized, almost every consumer product we buy needs to be packaged. And packaging types encompass a whole universe of non-flexible and flexible substrates, including board, plastic, glass and metal. Unlike the bindery that we're familiar with, non-flexible board packages are "converted." The basic carton shape and design are printed on large sheets, then diecut on high speed (and very heavy) diecutting machines that resemble sheetfed presses in their floor footprint.
From there, the diecut package/carton will go to a folder-gluer. These are amazing machines that will perform a series of precise folds and spot-gluing operations at speeds (in many cases) of over 30,000 pieces per hour. After this process, folded cartons are packed and shipped off the line, ready to be filled with product.
The high speeds of these machines are necessary because of the high-volume runs of many consumer product packages. But as more product types proliferate, shorter runs are becoming more common, driving demand for both diecutting and converting machines that set-up faster and easier.
So, while the conventional bindery may be in a bit of danger (long-term), packaging faces a more robust future. It might be well worth it for today's "bindroids" to get up to speed on this market.