Today, thanks to developments in digital printing, marketers can approach campaigns in a targeted manner, addressing specific consumer needs in specific regions. Additionally, brand owners are increasingly cautious about their ‘go-to-market strategies’, preferring to conduct focused test runs before going into full production. ‘Although subsequent volume orders may still be considerable,’ Sean continues, ‘the product mix is generally split into a number of different designs; and a print run of 6 000 might now be broken into short runs of 600 units per graphic. Additionally, high-tech tools are increasingly used for added-value campaigns, including QR codes that link to promotional websites and Smart phones with augmented reality.’
Tailor-made for packaging
It’s common cause that set-up costs using traditional printing techniques make short runs impractical.
‘Corrugated packaging and free-standing display unit manufactures can’t maintain a competitive edge and, more often than not, turn away such business,’ Sean points out.
Midcomp offers a number of global brands in the packaging, printing and finishing arena, including HP Scitex high-speed digital presses, two of which address this particular need.
The HP Scitex FB10000 industrial press utilises 16 grey-scale levels, enabling a range of small and large drop sizes on the same print, and offering high-speed and premium quality. This combination allows for numerous applications and run lengths with rapid turnaround times – for instance, 1 000 B1 sheets in less than two hours.
Since the FB10000 is designed to address offset, screen and digital applications using UV-curable inks, it offers considerable media versatility – from paper to plastics-based materials – and prints on substrates such as foam board, foam PVC, corrugated and compressed board.
Its baby sister, the HP Scitex FB7600 allows the use of up to eight inks – including new orange and light black options – on various media. It also has variable data printing capabilities to tailor specific brand messages.
‘With a bed size of 1.65m x 3.2m and a print speed up to125 beds/hour, the HP Scitex technology allows same-day turnaround and the flexibility to run a quick sample or short-run campaign while in the middle of a production run,’ Sean explains. ‘Samples can run in a matt, gloss, satin or spot gloss finish, all at the touch of a button! Both systems produce multiple versions and customised jobs for corrugated packaging and displays,’ he explains.
Ultimately, many printers are turning to digital printing to supplement, not replace, traditional printing technologies. ‘What each converter is looking for is the right tool for his requirements and value-for-money,’ Sean points out. ‘That’s where we come in. After discussing existing production systems with a converter, and what benefits are offered by a digital platform, we can offer a tailor-made HP Scitex package, complete with full cost-analysis and projected ROI.’
In his view, the greatest challenge is to shift the industry mind-set around digital printing for packaging. ‘Encouraging open discussion forums is probably the most effective way to dispel myths and promote the important role digital printing plays in reducing high set-up costs, long turnaround times and squeezed margins,’ states Sean. ‘Overall, short runs are profitable with the right digital technology in place!’ he sums up.
[Ed’s note: To learn more about HP Scitex printing systems, visit www.midcomp.co.za. And watch for the March issue, in which Sean discusses printing challenges faced by packaging converters and the benefits offered by the digital process.]
Mark Andy unveils Digital Series
Mark Andy’s latest Digital Series is a game-changing, wholly-configurable system that integrates full-colour, top-quality digital printing technology to meet converters’ needs for fast changeover, web handling, inline converting and other label and package decoration options. It provides key advancements in speed, colour, quality and flexibility – and is said to deliver best-in-class quality at the lowest cost per unit.
At its core is a flexible ‘hybrid’ platform designed to yield significant revenues in a short time, using minimal space, and minimising labour. It combines the economies and productive advantages of all digital workflows, digital inkjet printing and flexographic printing processes, delivering a dynamic approach to minimise job changeover times and maximise the SMED production principals.
The Digital Series is not a single product or machine, but a group of machine solutions providing varying degrees of performance at different price points. Coupled with the added configurability of advanced, integrated and automated inline flexographic printing and converting, the result is a high-performance, full-colour (C, M, Y, K, O, V + W) inkjet or ‘hybrid’ system with running speeds over 60m/min. It’s available in a range of web widths from 330mm and capable of handling substrates from sophisticated packaging films to traditional pressure-sensitive label stocks.
These presses are targeted at reducing the total cost per label or unit, a significant driving factor for any converter. This is accomplished through automated inkjet technology, easy functionality, higher rated run speeds, simplicity of operations and extreme flexibility with numerous configurations.
The line will be commercially available later this year.
For further information, contact SArepco, Mark Andy’s local representative.
Graphium simplifies complex jobs
UK-based FFEI has combined many years of software and inkjet expertise to create Graphium, a modular digital UV inkjet press especially for packaging, label production and speciality print.
Unveiled at last year’s Labelexpo Europe, it’s a flexible print system that allows converters to respond to dynamic market changes.
‘We’re on a mission to transform the digital label, packaging and speciality print market, and Graphium represents a major step towards achieving this goal,’ comments Andy Cook, MD of FFEI. ‘The system takes its name from a genus of vibrantly-coloured swallowtail butterflies. During their life they represent a truly stunning transformation – one we feel is echoed by Graphium’s ability to convert digital files into high-quality print and packaging,’ he claims. ‘Most importantly, it’s a new generation of digital inkjet press aimed at the narrow-web market – low capital investment, high-quality print, unparalleled
productivity and the most versatile array of applications. With these factors combined, Graphium’s among the most productive high-opacity digital white presses in the industry today,’ Andy maintains.
By combining a number of leading-edge technologies, this latest FFEI standard allows the conversion of complex, multi-colour jobs considered too costly with standalone conventional or inkjet presses.
‘Combining innovative workflow, prepress, colour management software and cutting-edge head calibration technology, Graphium delivers consistent quality through repeatable production,’ Andy continues. ‘This guarantees a match between press and proof, aligning to colour standards. Converters benefit from high-quality, vibrant printing, with excellent adhesion, light fastness and durability, all of which translates into low start-up costs, minimal waste and increased productivity. The ROI over conventional printing is huge – not only for short runs,’ he adds.
According to Andy, Graphium also delivers maximum flexibility and productivity on virtually any substrate. Supporting up to six digital modules and six flexo stations, it can integrate optional flexo and finishing stations inline for conversion in a single pass. This capability significantly reduces production time and costs compared to traditional offline finishing.
Specialist Uvijet Graphium UV curing inks developed by Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems are used, providing the functional performance, colour gamut and adhesion needed for label printing, as well as the reliable jetting performance required for consistent printing.
‘We’ve worked very closely with the Xaar R&D team to ensure Graphium maximises the full capability of Xaar’s 1001 print head technology. Additionally, the press takes advantage of corona pre-treatment, web clean, inter-colour pinning and adaptive screening technology – all supplied as standard to guarantee superior quality digital production,’ Andy concludes.
FFEI is represented in South Africa by DigitalView.
Attractive decoration for small runs
Digital printing can make decoration affordable for smaller runs – bringing the fastest time-to-market with the highest print quality. So says Xeikon’s Filip Weymans.
With a proven track record in label production, Xeikon exhibited at K2013 to show solutions for short-run plastics decoration – printing live on IML (in-mould labels) and on transfer printing substrates to highlight the value of each decoration method in combination with digital printing.
The company launched its Xeikon IML Suite at K2013. This suite consists of digital presses, substrates, software tools and finishing hardware that together build a system for IML decoration of thick-wall plastic containers.
In addition to IML, Xeikon also showed its Self-Adhesive Label Suite and Heat Transfer Label Suite.
Using the heat transfer technique, designs are digitally printed on a substrate with a release coating. In a second step, this printed image is transferred on to a plastic object with an applicator. ‘The quality of the print is top-class and the advantage is that decoration is carried out later in the supply chain than traditional IML, leaving more logistical flexibility and resulting in a significant reduction in inventory costs,’ Filip explains. ‘Since 2008, converters have been using this process, some with multiple Xeikon digital presses purely for the decoration of buckets.’
For more information, contact local representative, Thunderbolt.
bizhub leads the way
‘We’re inundated by burgeoning brand flavours and formulas and varying pack sizes, creating profound challenges for today’s packaging gurus,’ declares Konica Minolta South Africa’s Leon Minnie.
‘From a marketing standpoint, flexible manufacturing and distribution processes open a world of opportunity to use packaging as a communication vehicle that speaks directly to specific sub-segments of the consumer population,’ he adds. ‘Advanced printing technologies are making packaged products more striking and vivid than ever before and, on today’s cut-throat store shelves, they need to be. As consumer products multiply and diversify, store shelves have become brand battle grounds, where the smallest change to the graphic design on packaging has a serious impact on a brand owner’s bottom line,’ Leon continues. ‘We understand these challenges and we’re working to create a world where brand owners can provide the kind of variety that consumers want, at an affordable price. High-speed, low-cost digital printing allows FMCG manufacturers to introduce highly-targeted brand variants without increasing inventory or driving packaging costs sky high.’
In Leon’s view, the bizhub PRESS C8000 leads the revolution in colour digital production print and is set to see growing uptake in the packaging arena. It offers 1 200dpi resolution, to reproduce fine detail images and text. In close-up view, curved lines reveal minimal jaggedness – giving letters and graphics smooth, clean accuracy.
According to Leon, colour stability over the entire press run is one of the most sought-after factors in any colour printer and the bizhub PRESS C8000 is designed to maintain a stable colour image, continuously and automatically – so first and final prints stand up to the closest side-by-side scrutiny.
Konica Minolta’s Screen-Enhancing Active Digital Processing system utilises colour density and image density controls to correct density without slowing print speed or affecting performance.
To boost productivity, the bizhub PRESS C8000 incorporates advanced technologies for handling substrates, improving registration accuracy and combining high-speed output with superior reliability.
‘The C8000 also has a dual fusing system, creating a rich, brilliant finish on heavy paper – the kind of finish you’d only expect from offset equipment,’ asserts Leon. ‘This system provides the highest paper speed for heavy and coated stock; when a job can be printed on thinner paper, the second fusing unit is automatically bypassed to keep productivity at an industry benchmark,’ he continues. ‘Every print job has its challenges – but each begins with paper. Users have absolute media flexibility, including optional PF-705 or PF-704 paper feed units that raise capacity up to 10 760 sheets; that’s among the highest capacities in its class, and a real time-saver for long runs with minimal operator intervention. These units also feature a vacuum-feeding mechanism for trouble-free feed of a wide choice of papers – including coated stock, speciality papers and heavy papers.’
For all these reasons, Leon believes the C8000 will work well for shorter-run packaging where sulphate board between 300g/m2 and 350g/m2 is the material of choice.
Food contact guarantee
The environmental sustainability of Konica Minolta’s Simitri HD and new-generation HD+ toner technology has been well documented and, following recent tests carried out by TÜV Rheinland, five bizhub PRESS and bizhub PRO series printers were certified as complying with criteria for printed paper coming into contact with food.
‘This means that printing on special paper from the bizhub PRESS C6000, C7000 and C8000 presents an exciting opportunity for fresh applications for food packaging,’ Leon notes. ‘Next to the paper and the press, Simitri HD+ is the single most important factor in creating a system that complies with strict standards for food contact, providing a real alternative to offset printing for packaging.’