- June 01, 2009, By Yolanda Simonsis, Associate Publisher/Editor
HAMILTON, OH | Innovative Label Solutions (ILS) and Atlanta, GA-based Hewlett-Packard staged an ILS open house on April 23rd following in the robust tradition of most HP events. There was no lack of activity, an abundance of technical information and advice, as well as a host of other HP-approved vendors on hand to answer questions and confirm the HP theme that “seeing is believing.”
Unlike most open houses where customers primarily comprise the guest list, ILS opened its doors to 70 people from about 50 companies, some of whom shared similar interests in establishing a digital production platform. Guests came to the ILS plant, comfortably tucked in the center of middle America, from as far away as the East and West Coasts, Texas, and New Jersey. Interestingly enough, there was 100% attendance by all who registered!
The day began with breakfast and promptly kicked off with a keynote presentation from Chris Lyons of Package Design on ”Packaging & Innovation Trends for 2009.” Most significant opportunities for the future, said Lyons, lay in the development of demographic growth markets, particularly Hispanic markets that now comprise 50% of the US population, he said. Private label brand strategies, such as Wal-Mart’s Great Value products, have won the approval of Wall Street according to a Business Week April 15th article titled: “Innovative Ways to Grow During the Downturn.” Additional growth is seen for flex-packs, sustainable packaging, rPET packaging employing recycled materials, and the use of biopolymers. While folding cartons and corrugated containers—which, he said, are tied to the market—are experiencing greater decline, more traditional packaging, such as glass (because of its recyclability) is coming back in lighter weights and new shapes. The next frontier, predicted Lyons, will be packaging with interactive mobile marketing solutions that make the product instantly more valuable to the consumer and deliver the unexpected.
Diane Ewanko and Cindy Collins of Avery Dennison’s Fasson Roll Div. offered material options for not only label converting but also for flex-pack converting, particularly for those who want the production diversity that HP digital presses allow. Food-contact compliant, pre-optimized materials include ready-for-press paper and film face stocks as well as laminated flexible packaging materials. With the growth rate of flexible packaging in the narrow web industry at 15% year over year, Fasson has grown its pre-optimized line of materials to 30 products, and custom solutions are available via the Engineered Solutions Team.
Aaron Mallory of HP explored the benefits of color profiling and HP’s partnership with EskoArtwork as well as its seamless integration of a powerful software suite with the HP SmartStream workflow family. Owners of HP Indigo ws4000, ws4050, ws4500 and WS6000 digital presses benefit from the ability of this automated digital front end. Third party barcodes are even built into the software, and the user also can accommodate 2-D barcodes, perform step and repeat, and create their own variable data. The HP Label & Packaging SmartStream Color Kit, called the Kaleidoscope color management system, uses colormetric and spectral data to perform its calculations. It can reproduce color profile targets on press to determine the color gamut of the press while printing on the actual substrates for the job, thus ensuring color-consistent accuracy that’s measurable by using the system’s spectrophotometer. In combination with an extended color gamut system (six colors plus one white), spot colors are virtually unnecessary.
Procter & Gamble associate director of R&D Global Packaging Mike Ferrari related the battle of the store shelf and the moments of truth involved in making a sale. Packaging must assist in energizing consumers with invigorated brand communication, said Ferrari, enhance brand image, and execute with excellence by eliminating defective printing to reinforce brand trust and quality.
Matthew Gindele of HP encouraged audience participation with a Digital Printing Myth busting session. He examined such things as how digital may complement flexo, the level of printing complexity digital can attain, whether digital can improve inventory management, and more.
A Q&A session, moderated by Chris Lyons, included the following panelists: ILS president Jay Dollries, P&G’s Mike Ferrari, HP’s Vince Pentella, and Avery Dennison’s Diane Ewanko. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and voice nagging concerns. A walking tour of the 10,000 sq-ft digital department at ILS included up-close looks of the company’s equipment capabilities. The centerpiece, of course, was the newly installed HP Indigo WS6000 that complements two HP Indigo ws4500s (purchased 2005); two AB Graphic Digilams and the first US installation of a new AB Graphic Digicon; and a Karlville Shrink Sleeve Finishing system for seaming, inspection, and cutting along with a steam shrink tunnel.
The highlight of the tour focused on the WS600, capable of printing seven colors (including an improved white) at speeds to 98 fpm in four colors (faster with fewer colors) on nearly any media at print resolutions up to 1,219 dpi. Suitable for production of 38.6-in. wide (maximum) folding cartons, pouches, sachets, and labels, the press is expected to be a key component in the company’s further expansion into shrink sleeve labels.
President Jay Dollries related that ILS runs two shifts in the digital department, requiring only one operator to handle several presses. All operators are cross-trained to run all equipment, including the HP digital presses, the Digilams and Digicon, as well as the Karlville shrink sleeve equipment. Dollries revealed, “The quality is better than flexo and comparable to offset and gravure with no registration issues.“ As for support, Dollries says, “ HP has been there to support us in a number of avenues. It’s a win-win solution for both; a nice, open relationship where the goal is for both of us to succeed.”