Digital Printing

Opening up packaging’s potential for printers

by FESPA | 23/06/2021
Opening up packaging’s potential for printers

Short run packaging is finally viable for printing businesses providing opportunities to respond to the growing demands for customised packaging as well as supporting sustainability goals says Rob Brown, Senior Manager Business Development, Industry Print, OKI Europe Ltd

Lately, survival has been the main area of focus across almost every sector. Those companies that have adapted to the challenges of the past 12 months can now turn their attentions to expanding their business by diversifying into new markets. For print service providers, short run packaging printing is one area that has not always been easy to break into. However, this growing market has been bolstered by smaller businesses embracing the rise in online sales, can offer plenty of opportunities to drive new revenue streams. 
Commercial print volumes may be declining, but the value of the global packaging market is rising. It is anticipated that its value will reach €416.5bn by 2026, so print businesses that jump at the opportunity to enter the packaging market now, could quickly begin to reap the rewards.

Adapting to personalisation sustainably and cost effectively

Consumer demand for sustainable packaging as well as personalised and customised orders is increasing. Recent research reveals 74% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. What’s more, the European Brand & Packaging Design Association reports that 63% of leading brand owners, retailers, suppliers, agencies and packaging professionals feel personalised packaging increases sales while 52% say it positively impacts customer loyalty3.
The barrier to offering personalised and customised packaging has always been that these orders inevitably require shorter print runs. With the set-up time and running costs involved with custom orders, either a minimum print order is required, often resulting in long lead times and costly wastage for customers, or they have to hold on to smaller orders until they have the necessary volumes that deliver a profit, or simply choose not to accept them at all and turning customers away.
By investing in a compact digital production printer that can handle all manner of substrates including sustainable packaging, print service providers can make the printing process fast and cost efficient. And with no requirement for a minimum order volume, wastage is eliminated a great result for businesses concerned about their sustainability credentials. From a single unit to many, print service providers can embrace short run production and tap into the lucrative personalisation and sustainable packaging trend.

Diversifying flexibly and profitably

It isn’t easy for print service providers to diversify and profit from new revenue streams when the printing of applications on a diverse range of materials often requires separate specialist devices. However, the innovative new generation printers designed for short run digital production mean that print service providers can now print on almost anything from one compact device rather than having to invest in various full production machines.
Devices designed for short run digital production complement existing litho, flexo, large format digital and screen-printing technologies, allowing even the smallest of print service providers to open up or expand their range of packaging printing services. These devices can print on a surprisingly diverse range of substrates that one would never expect from a digital production printer of their size or cost, including dark and transparent media, film, gloss, transfer media, waterproof paper and more. This makes them ideal for businesses looking to expand their services to all kinds of packaging, from pouches to packets, paper bags, and boxes, all on demand.

Creating packaging that pops

Providing packaging that truly stands out can help customers differentiate against competing businesses and products in their categories. Being able to produce vibrant, eye-catching designs that are fully customised to order will also help print service providers capture customers looking to promote their brand and business. Devices that utilise innovative CMYK plus solid white technology enable single pass under printing using white toner as a fifth colour and this makes packaging designs instantly stand out on dark or transparent media.
Printers powered by digital LED technology that offer this flexibility are available for a relatively low investment and when coupled with CMYK plus white or even spot gloss in a device that’s a third of the size of a full production machine and a tenth of the cost, they are the ideal addition for any print service provider looking to expand and offer all kinds of packaging on demand. Built for short run jobs, this offers print service providers the flexibility to produce intricate packaging designs with exceptional resolution and vibrant colours that can be personalised or customised to order.  

No space? No problem

Adding new service offerings isn’t always straightforward in the print industry. For many print service providers, space is limited meaning investing in new devices for specific purposes such as printing packaging isn’t always feasible. Often paying higher rent for a larger space on top of the cost of the new equipment simply isn’t an option.
Diversifying into packaging production doesn’t have to mean investing in a singular device that only serves that one purpose. Some devices that are capable of producing high quality packaging are also capable of many other print applications. Some are no larger than a standard A3 printer yet can produce all manner of items, including greeting cards and stationery, envelopes, tags and labels as well as traditional commercial print applications such as business cards, brochures, leaflets, menus, signage, stickers and even banners.

Unwrapping lucrative new opportunities

There’s no denying that packaging is a lucrative market and while it has traditionally been difficult for print service providers to support short run packaging printing, they need not be held back by past limitations. Technology is now available to enable these businesses to boost their bottom line by offering short run print production affordably and profitably while exceeding customers’ expectations. Whether simply providing everyday packaging or going a step further and offering personalised or customised sustainable packaging, print service providers should be seizing this opportunity to grow their business, increase their revenues and attract new customers.




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