For those determining whether to transition some or all of their packaging to digital printing, keep in mind the principal bene␣ts of the technology:
- Digital print has the potential to shrink your packaging workflow. In the past, conventional printing took many steps, from art generation to plate making to printing. That meant opportunities for errors, defects and waste. The advent of computer-to-plate technology (CTP) eliminated many of these manual steps, but the cost of excessive make-ready, a higher internal cost of quality (defects) and the use of plates still required longer runs to achieve the lowest price. The advent of digital offset print production has shrunk the process to just a few steps, as print production is fully digital and highly compressed.
- Digital print can greatly enhance the value proposition. This is based on the savings and bene␣ts of not having any obsolete inventory, shrinking time-to-market, faster order turnaround time, dramatic shrinking of cycle times, and eliminating several steps between proofs/ concepts and prototypes. Digital printing also saves on the cost of prepress and the per-thousand cost on labels or cartons.
- Digital print enhances supply chain efficiencies. With a compressed supply chain, you will experience the following:
- A shorter timeline between FDA approval and arrival of packaging for new drugs and devices
- A faster transition to production
Simplified customization of label designs to better target smaller markets, protect brands and implement track-and-trace solutions
- Cost-effective launching of a brand or expansion into new markets for low-volume SKUs
- Speed to test market for new designs
- Digital print simpli␣es variable data on packaging. Digital printing, whether on labels or cartons, makes it easy to print in-line variable data, in several forms. It supports development of an electronic pedigree and track-and-trace capability via serialization of each label or folding carton, using a unique numeric or alphanumeric code, one- or two-dimensional bar code.
- Digital print is more environmentally friendly than conventional printing. First, make-ready is significantly reduced since digital printing enables “good labels” within a few minutes. This reduces wasted ink, materials and support processes. In some cases, users have found that digital production uses four times less ink than conventional processes. And, since no printing plates are used, further waste and cost is avoided. Digital inks are mineral oil-based and approved for indirect food contact.
By: Heather Hill