Brand owners often use digital printing for market samples, even though it has the power and potential to play a much bigger role. “It can help brands to stand out and deal with the key market trends: shorter run times, just-in-time requests, more variation, seasonal packaging, smaller lot sizes, optimised supply chains and personalisation,” explains Xeikon’s business development manager Gert Geens
.Gert Geens, business development manager at Xeikon
As packaging is transforming into a personal interactive communication tool to reach the consumer, digital printing helps in turning this vision into reality. The process from design to supermarket shelf can be completed in just a few days. Digital printing is also the number one solution when boxes need to be made in multiple languages and with varied designs.
All about consistency in board qualities
Every printing job starts with the board. In order to deliver perfect results, the board used in digital printing needs to be the same high quality as that used in premium offset printing. “Consistency in colour, weight, thickness and stiffness is the key. Metsä Board’s materials are one of the most reliable in these respects,” states Geens.
Xeikon has validated several of Metsä Board’s board grades and all of them behave perfectly in the process. When using Xeikon’s machinery, the boards don’t need any kind of pre-treatment before the digital printing. This keeps the costs within an acceptable range.
Robust growth ahead in digital printing markets
Geens states that digital printing can make the entire folding carton supply chain more efficient and cost effective. The materials can be made order-based and supply driven, which means lower capital requirements and less storage space. Everything can be printed from the same width of paperboard, so nothing is wasted.
No wonder then, that digital packaging printing markets are expected to grow almost 20 per cent within the next five years. Folding carton will also see robust growth figures. But Geens underlines that with digital printing, it is not a question of either/or.
Gert Geens and Metsä Board's technical sales manager Evelien Dequeker
“Manufacturing processes need to become leaner. Integrating a digital press in the manufacturing process is a first step in this direction. Xeikon goes a step further,” says Geens. The Xeikon Flatbed Die-cut Unit helps to increase productivity and minimise the cost of converting cartons and tags. It is built to suit the Xeikon press portfolio but can also handle materials from conventional or other digital presses.
Seeing is believing
Now the biggest challenge is to raise awareness of how customers can benefit from digital printing. “This sector is a conventional market. Old conceptions still dominate. We need to change people’s mind-set and this takes time,” states Geens.
Metsä Board is helping by training Xeikon’s personnel on how the boards are actually produced, and showcasing together the capabilities of digital printing. According to Geens, the work really pays off. “Once they get a chance to show and tell, people are hooked,” he concludes.
Read more about digital printing:Article: Embracing the digital age Blog by Lauri Järvinen: Digital printing shaped by global trends