A Clear Picture | Technologies that Will Shape the Future of Package Printing

Today’s consumers want what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. Brand owners know this all too well and continuously adapt their products and packaging strategies to accommodate changing demands. Printing plays a critical part in this process: It’s the package that attracts the consumer at the point of purchase, grabs their attention with enhanced graphics, announces a new flavor or brand promise, and provides the necessary information to seal the deal and get the product into that shopping cart.

Rick Fox Jr., president and CEO of Fox IV Technologies, offers his take on the trends and technologies shaping packaging printing as store shelves become more crowded and consumers more discerning and/or demanding.

Q. What is the most significant trend you see in package printing?

RF: We are seeing a big shift to digital printing. That’s certainly not to say that flexography and gravure are disappearing. Flexography still dominates package printing. But interest in digital printing among brand owners and other manufacturers will continue to grow as they demand more high-quality, cost-effective and easily-adaptable packaging options from suppliers.

Q. What advantages does digital printing offer?

RF: Brand owners are increasingly challenged to provide greater variety. Just look at the store shelves in almost any local supermarket. In any given product category, there are more options than ever, whether consumers there are seeking a product that is low fat, gluten-free, whole grain, organic, family-sized, single-serving or just a certain flavor. While the number of choices has grown, the space on store shelves has not – or at least not at the same rate. A manufacturer must manage output accordingly, producing shorter runs of multiple varieties to reduce costly waste.

As a result, print runs are getting shorter. Each variation of a product requires its own label to detail nutritional facts and specific brand messaging. Digital printing technologies allow manufacturers or contract packagers to easily switch settings and print more frequent runs with fewer units. This reduces changeover time, providing a cost-effective solution for overcoming the challenge of meeting consumer demand for variety. The flexibility of digital printing also allows manufacturers to run special promotional packaging with greater ease, drawing attention with refreshed messaging or engaging consumers with interactive opportunities like contests and giveaways.

Q. What do you think is around the corner for the printing industry?

RF: The adoption of digital print technologies will continue to play a significant role for packagers. New types of ink jet printing technologies will play a larger role in digital printing. LED curable inks can print on a range of substrates and available with low migration inks to comply with European food packaging directives. Demand for greater more sustainable products from consumers, retailers and industry regulators is driving brands to reduce their carbon footprints.

See it all at PACK EXPO International 2012

PACK EXPO International 2012 (October 28-31; McCormick Place, Chicago, IL) will provide a forum for the latest technologies in package printing, ranging from digital and in-mold to more traditional solutions such as flexography and gravure. Brand managers, printers, and other packaging professionals can find exhibitors, including Fox IV Technologies (Booth 4216) and register to attend by visiting www.packexpo.com. Admission to the show floor is $30 per person through October 8, when the price increases to $60.


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