Talk of Golf Balls, Candles and Digital Printing's Future
One of the bright spots in digital printing these days—and into the future—is packaging. You can digitize a lot things and stream them through the air and over fiber and copper lines, but nearly all products we all buy every day will always need some kind of package, label or both. What's interesting is how well digital printing—like for golf balls and candles—fits this market.
This might not seem to make sense at first, because packaging is such a high volume, mass market app. Yet, if you really look at many of the consumer goods lining the aisles of your local Wally World, you see how labels and packaging are changing. Instead of there being a couple versions of a given brand of shampoo or deodorant, there are a dozen or more. The differences in the actual products may be more imagined than real, but a unique package or label—barcode and all—is required for each.
"What this does is reduce the run length required for each item," notes Mike Ring, president of Xeikon America. "There are more products, but that means shorter runs for any given label. And because products can also vary by market, digital printing is becoming a compelling choice for many labels and packaging applications."
Much of this work has traditionally been done with offset printing or flexography, which are geared to the longer runs required for most consumer goods. But as those runs shrink, digital presses begin to shine and can offer equal or better quality for many products.
Ring tells of how one customer's client wouldn't accept digital printing unless the label on the product was indistinguishable from the offset version. "Once the customer was able to demonstrate the labels printed on a Xeikon press looked the same as the conventional ones, the client was on board and now uses both technologies depending on delivery times and run lengths," he reports.