drupa Essentials of Print: Sean Smyth

With our recurring drupa Essentials of Print series, we deliver a series of articles, from designers, brand owners, printers, converters, journalists and influencers, providing them with a platform to share their opinions on the latest developments of the print industry.

Digitization of Packaging – the opportunities of drupa!


Digital Printing is widely used in labels and packaging in 2019, and it will be further ensconced. […] This shows the high number of players now competing in the wide range of packaging applications, offering new capabilities and functionalities, with steadily increasing productivity and lower costs. […] Quality, reliability and speed are no longer issues for inkjet and electrophotography package printers. […] Printhead and equipment manufacturers have developed many solutions that eliminate inkjet artefacts, compensating for nozzle outs in real time that extend the life of the heads and machine uptime. Inkjet will be the real winner, with faster machines being shown, particularly in flexible packaging.


[…] It is not just printing. Some vendors have single pass, highly automated systems to print and finish corrugated boxes, cartons and flexibles in a single pass. […] This approach replaces the traditional skills of the press minder and finishing journeymen operators which is important because skilled labour is a resource that is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain. While digital presses are the new, shiny and sexy headline grabbers, more important is the enabling software […]. […] Workflow is becoming collaborative and automated, where designs are produced and approved, then loaded into job queues for automated colour management and imposition with no manual involvement at the converter. […] [Y]ou can explore solutions at drupa because simplifying supply chains is the key to future success supplying packaging and labels.


[…] Digital printing allows brands to make content decisions closer to the consumer, helping them to provide more than just the traditional containment and protection functions of the pack, with information and promotion. […] And digital packaging print (plus finishing) will very much be on the agenda. […] [T]here will be several direct-to-shape machines doing interesting things on plastic and glass. Established players will show improvements to quality, speed and formats, with new inks and toners broadening the types of packaging they can produce.


In the drupa article series Essentials of Print, Dr. Sean Smyth reviews the printing and packaging market and forecasts trends and the development of digital printing and digitization of packaging and finishing.

About the Author:

Dr Sean Smyth is a Senior Analyst & Consultant at Smithers. He is closely monitoring the digital transformation of the printing and packaging industry.




Header picture © Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

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