Digital print can bolster shelf-ready options

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

HSG installed a digital inkjet press
HSG installed a digital inkjet press

Related tags: Printing

The benefits of variable digital inkjet printing for transit and shelf-ready packaging (SRP) are now well understood by brands, to the extent that some (for example in the dairy sector) are eager to acquire their own presses for affordable, short-run, fast-turnaround promotional messaging, according to one Bradford-based converter.

Around a year ago, HSG took delivery of a Sun Automation CorrStream sheet-fed digital inkjet press, printing on to corrugated cases and boxes, or microflute for primary packaging.

The fact that it was single-pass rather than multi-pass made it a “truly industrial press”,​ said md Ben Ginesi, and while other converters had digital reel-fed presses, this was the only one of its type installed anywhere.

‘Change in customer demand’

“We’d been looking at digital for around seven years​,” said Ginesi. “We’d seen a change in customer demand. We have flexo and litho presses, but opportunities had passed us by because of issues of run length or the cost of plates.”

While high-volume brands with few variants can justify the minimum run lengths of traditional print processes, brand-owners producing smaller volumes of multiple variants can end up holding hundreds of pallet-loads of blanks.

With digital inkjet, each pack can (in theory) be different, and runs of up to 20,000 can be cost-effective, said HSG. Even though process speeds are not as fast as flexo, they are much faster with Sun’s single-pass technology than with the multi-pass alternative.

“Small-scale producers such as microbreweries would normally face high costs for a launch,” ​said Ginesi. “With a digital press, launches are more viable than ever.

‘Threat of redundant stock’

“You don’t have the threat of redundant stock or of large setup costs. The press will print, effectively, on demand what a customer needs for a given week, for example.”

As well as creating language variants for export, he said, digital allowed SRP to become an advertising and promotional medium, influencing the way that budgets (including marketing) were allocated.

“This can take away the debate about separate promotional point-of-sale or end-of-aisle displays, when you can achieve the same effect on SRP,”​ said Ginesi.

Artwork could be localised in time or space, said HSG.

Related topics: Packaging materials

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