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"Just how much digital
print technologies will
depends on how quickly
digital printing presses
for the industrial pro-
duction of packaging are
developed," explains Hu-
bert Marte of the Forum
Marte notes several challenges: "A very important factor is the cost
of procurement, maintenance and repair, as well as the cost of the
printing inks. In addition, it has not yet been possible to achieve all
Pantone colors with digital printing. Printing onto coated papers and
the drying that it requires also remains a serious challenge. Once these
challenges are resolved, digital package printing will impact produc-
tion significantly, even revolutionize it."
Eduard Fischer, managing director of Schwarzach, said the packaging
market "continues to be marked by integration and consolidation.
Overcapacity and the resulting price wars are the order of the day.
Growth in the entire sector really depends on consumer behavior.
Buying decisions are often driven by complicated graphical and
at the point of sale.
This requires a high
level of investment in
value added processes by
packaging converters in
order to create items that
"The key market trends
we see are ever more
products on the shelves
and micro segmentation
to address a variety of consumer demographics," reports Francois
Martin, responsible for worldwide marketing at HP Graphic Business
Solutions. The packaging market, including the related digital printing
solutions, can essentially be divided into four sectors: labels, flexible
packaging, folding cartons and corrugated. Each of these areas has its
own dynamics and characteristics. The label market was the first to
recognize the benefits of digital printing. The other applications are
now following suit, but not at the same speed or via the same route.
The label market has a 10 to 12 year head start on corrugated in terms
of digital printing implementation.
"Digital printing helps companies meet new challenges and optimize
production as compared to analog methodologies," Martin continues.
Stephan Ratt, CEO of Ratt Pack Group, agrees. "We currently see
growth in minimum order sizes in the non food sector," he says. "That
means more firms (in Austria) are entering the fray by acquiring
digital printing presses."
HP has now installed more than 1,000 digital presses in the market,
and considers digital printing to have become mainstream. Xeikon
has well over 300 systems installed, and more than 50 percent of its
sales now come from the packaging industry.
Traditional companies such as Heidelberger Druckmaschinen have
gone down the digital path via Gallus, and since Labelexpo last year
are fully onboard with the company's DCS 340 digital press. This
converting system, developed in a joint project by Heidelberg and
Fujifilm, is equipped with the latest generation of inkjet print heads
and prints at a quality level that was previously only achievable in
offset printing. It delivers high end UV inkjet print quality with a
native resolution of 1,200 dpi at a speed of 165 fpm, with the flexibility
and efficiency of digital printing, combined with the benefits of flexo
Also unique to this solution, in addition to outstanding print quality,
is the integration of inline finishing modules. The Gallus DCS 340
prints digitally from roll to finished, diecut label, all in one pass.
French company Autajon bought and tested the first system, and has
now ordered three additional units.
Label print shops increasingly recognize that digital printing can be
used as a logical adjunct to the long printruns in flexo or offset print-
ing. Designs can also be changed rapidly. It's almost as if label design
is turning into fashion design; some wine bottles are becoming style
icons as a result.
And the next digital wave is already on the horizon: Flexible packag-
ing, folding cartons and corrugated will also be riding the same tide.
The market for flexible packaging is significant and will continue to
develop its digital side in the coming five years, but it is also subject to
social change. People eat and drink on the move and because of this,
flexible packs are gaining popularity and increasingly replacing fixed
formats. In the food sector in particular, flexible packs are easy to
handle, and they fulfill the current trend for less waste and a smaller
carbon footprint. The convenience factor cannot be ignored.
Digital printing provides manufacturers of flexible packaging the op-
portunity to grow their businesses. The formula is a simple one: high
quality packaging, produced digitally, with just in time delivery. This
is why the technology is currently gaining ground.
Swiss firm O. Kleiner KG was the first company in the world to install
an HP Indigo 20000 and specialize in the production of flexible pack-
aging using flexo, gravure and, more recently, digital printing. "Digital
Collaborative efforts between KBA and HP
led to development of the PageWide Web
HP digital offerings now target multiple
sectors---labels, flexible packaging, folding
carton and corrugated.
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