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The Growth of Digital Print

The past few years have presented many challenges for the printing industry with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the decline of the magazine and newspaper market as readers switched to screens. However, this digital revolution has driven growth in other areas as online shopping boosted the demand for labels and packaging.

This COVID-19 driven growth in eCommerce has led to companies adding more and more branding to their packaging. Brands are beginning to understand the importance of secondary packaging as more than simply a container, but rather another connection with their consumers and an additional touchpoint for brand communication.

Demand for smart packaging and label technology, with added security and tracking features, has seen a consequent increase. Smart labels and QR codes store information such as item identification, expiry dates, batch information and product tracking data. They can also be used for deeper engagement with consumers by providing additional information about product traceability and linking to other digital channels for transparency and promotions. Apart from packaging and labels, demand for signage, billboard advertising and vehicle wraps has also increased.

Digital printing has gained popularity because of its fast turnaround, lower cost and the shift towards shorter runs with greater customisation. Digital printing processes can also print on an array of substrates from paper and board to glass, canvas, metal, fabric, marble, and plastic. Technological developments are allowing digital printers to print bigger, better, faster and more reliably than ever before.

Inkjet printers are showing great advancements in speed, volume and endurance. The speed of modern sheetfed machines and web presses is making productivity comparable to litho, flexo and gravure competitors. Equipment manufacturers have developed solutions that eliminate inkjet artefacts, compensating for nozzle outs in real-time, which extends the life of the printheads and reduces machine downtime.

Digital printing is swiftly expanding into electrophotography and there has been significant growth in its applications for packaging and labels. Recent developments in digital printing, such as creasing and digital carton cutting, have enhanced the potential for a greater number of applications of inks in folding cartons, flexible packaging, and corrugated packaging.

Digital presses are now effectively combining digital print with digital finishing of packaging, including corrugated boxes, cartons and flexibles, in a single pass. These presses employ powerful front-end control systems and software to drive the print and finishing sections whilst measuring and controlling quality.

This enabling software is vital for efficient workflow and has evolved to integrate with management systems to automate administration functions as well as the production, approval and preparation of variable content. These systems can even be linked to substrate ordering and production planning to optimise capacity and streamline supply chains.

With changing market conditions and increased customer expectations for transparency, engagement and personalisation, digital printing offers a wide range of functions, greater variability and allows brands to be more agile while making content decisions closer to the consumer.

For more information or to find out how we can assist your brand with labels and packaging, get in touch with us today, here.