– perhaps the best kept secret for hybrid printing in packaging.
There are over 1,500 Kodak imprinting heads in the market today. Most of these are installed for newspaper, direct mail and addressing applications. While this is impressive, packaging converters and brands are just catching on to the value this can bring to their digital strategies to better connect with consumers and optimize their production costs by integrating these heads with their gravure, flexo and offset presses.
What has changed? First, Kodak has introduced packaging inks and fluids that are safe for indirect food contact applications for folding carton, corrugated and flexible substrates. As Kodak has presented this at industry trade events, the immediate response has been, ‘I did not know you could print that fast and achieve that level of image quality.’ Perhaps this could be the best kept secret for packaging converters.
The trends driving the need for cost effective variable and short run printing are compelling. While packaging is increasing in volume printed, there are dramatic shifts to shorter runs and SKU proliferation, so a print run of 100,000 could really be 10 runs of 10,000 each.
Brands are also significantly increasing their promotional programs and eCommerce initiatives to better connect with the consumer. However, these shorter runs and need to add variable content can’t be produced cost effectively with conventional equipment and at times are difficult to produce with a digital press format. That is where hybrid printing offers the best of both worlds, enabling variable content and design freedom for brands, while allowing their converters the cost effectiveness.
Here are some examples. Did you know that emojis are the top image used in promotions in Korea and China? Imagine the flexibility and design freedom to add emojis to a package design and execute that with speed to market.
According to LPCprint.com, folding carton converters in the US are seeing a 15% reduction in run lengths, along with a significant increase in promotional programs. That means brands are doing more market testing with greater variety per carton. PROSPER S-Series heads are helping converters add QR codes and promotional content, in-line with their conventional press.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects that online retail will grow 8-12%, three times higher than the growth rate of the wider industry. This is driving more creative primary and secondary packaging design along with simple coding for track and trace in corrugated and folding carton to enable inventory control and consumer opt-in to promotions and loyalty programs. This flexibility can only be achieved with Digital.