Production Inkjet Press Adoption Is Gaining Ground Across Printing and Packaging Segments
The printing and packaging industries are benefiting from an influx of digital printing platforms and technologies. High-speed, roll-fed inkjet presses are an emerging solution gaining adoption across the commercial, in-plant, and packaging segments. Printers and converters considering an investment in this technology can learn more about the specific opportunities roll-fed inkjet printing brings to each segment of the industry by downloading High-Speed, Roll-Fed Inkjet Delivers Opportunities Across Print Segments, a recently published white paper from NAPCO Research.
In the commercial segment, roll-fed inkjet is leading to new opportunities in several application areas, including publishing, direct mail, and transactional printing.
- The publishing segment is particularly exciting for commercial printers, as the technology brings several benefits to high-end publications and books that were previously not feasible.
- Direct mail is benefiting from the high speeds that roll-fed inkjet provides. As a quick-turn business, direct mailers benefit from being able to rapidly produce mail pieces that can be customized, versioned, or adorned with variable data.
- The transactional segment, which historically has not had the same full-color advantages of other printed products, is receiving a boost to its marketing capabilities. Commercial printers in this market can produce offset shells, which can then be spruced up with full-color inkjet printing that engages with the recipient.
In-plant printers produce many of the same applications as commercial printers and have been at the forefront of digital adoption. However, misconceptions about inkjet printing persist among in-plants that may be holding them back from improving their operations. These misconceptions include:
- Misconception: Not having enough volume to support inkjet. This misconception is likely a holdover from the days in which printers had to produce millions of monthly inkjet impressions in order for the technology to be cost-effective. In addition to technology advancements that have reduced these numbers, in-plants that utilize inkjet to consolidate runs they had been producing on other devices can quickly reach the cost-effectiveness threshold.
- Misconception: Inkjet is not a reliable replacement for toner. In inkjet’s early days, downtime and reliability issues were more common. But as the technology has evolved and improved, inkjet presses’ fewer moving parts have led to better uptime results and in many cases outperform legacy toner presses.
- Misconception: Offset pressmen not accepting inkjet. The reality is that numerous in-plants that have adopted inkjet have successfully transitioned their offset operators to the new technology. While change can certainly be challenging, operators understand that digital printing represents the future of the industry and have welcomed the opportunity to learn a new skill.
The label and packaging industries are also rapidly transitioning to digital. Of the four major packaging segments of label, folding carton, flexible packaging, and corrugated, the label segment is seeing the most adoption of roll-fed inkjet. In addition to the print quality and high speeds that inkjet provides, label and package printers are benefiting from the technology’s ability to cost-effectively produce short runs, offer brand owners personalization and versioning capabilities, and accommodate the proliferation of SKUs throughout CPG markets.
The emergence of digital printing in the packaging space is coming at an ideal time for both converters and brand owners as SKU proliferation continues to impact the industry. In fact, as reported in NAPCO Research’s study Digital Package Printing: The Time is Now!, 73% of brand owner respondents reported an increasing quantity of SKUs.
Though inkjet adoption is still in its early stages in labels and packaging, printers, converters, and their customers are seeing how the technology can be transformative for their operations. Among its advantages are:
- Substrate versatility: Inkjet is a non-contact printing process, which allows it to be used across a variety of papers, paperboard, films, and foils. In food-contact packages, such as flexible pouches, innovations in aqueous inkjet have emerged that will expand the technology into this high-growth application.
- Efficiency and automation: Speed to market and fast turnarounds have never been more important in label and packaging production. By eliminating plates from the process, inkjet printing provides drastically reduced makeready times, significantly cutting down on waste and lead time.
- Design flexibility and creativity: Beyond improving turnaround times, the elimination of plates from the printing process allows each printed item to be different. With this newfound flexibility, brands can experiment with new package designs, limited edition releases, and variable content. Personalization opportunities, especially with the rise of e-commerce, are also enticing for brands to generate a one-on-one connection with a consumer.
Digital printing technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and for printers and converters to stay at the forefront of their industry segments, assessing and investing in the latest digital platforms is imperative to staying competitive. For more on the advantages of high-speed roll-fed inkjet, download High-Speed, Roll-Fed Inkjet Delivers Opportunities Across Print Segments from NAPCO Research today.
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