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FLEXO Magazine : January 2011
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES Packaging Design & the Role of the Digital Printer How Wide-Format Inkjet Printing Can Help You Produce the Perfect Prototype By Hiroshi Ono Until recently, producing realistic prototypes was a very expensive proposition requiring either using special- ized proofing equipment or stopping the press to run samples. With proofing equipment, the running costs can be as high as $20/sq. ft. and the range of media is typically limited to coated substrates. The only other alternative for proofing on specialized materials has been to proof on press. Every time a commercial press is stopped, thousands of dollars in production revenue is lost, in addition to the setup, labor and material costs; all associated with switching the job. New wide-format inkjet printing technologies have emerged that are simplifying this process, making it easier, less ex- pensive and more efficient than ever for designers to create effective package prototypes that match the final product. WHY GO DIGITAL? Today ’s wide-format UV inkjet printers can be purchased for an initial investment starting at approximately $50,000. In addition to being relatively affordable up front, they continue to deliver both cost and time savings over their lifespan, especial- ly when compared to traditional analog technologies. Among their greatest benefits is the seamless workflow that they allow – taking your design through the printing and finish- ing stages – all without requiring any plate making. Other advantages include quick changeover of production, variable data and on-demand production. I recommend an integrated print/cut solution for the greatest levels of efficiency. For example, some models, such as, Roland’s VersaUV, can print, contour cut, crease and score your prototype – in an integrated workflow, all on one device. As a result, jobs that previously took days or weeks to complete, can be completed in just hours. Specialized ink sets, including white ink and clear coat, can produce effects and patterns ranging from embossing and varnishing to faux leather, crocodile skin and even Braille. Having these capabilities can greatly enhance the design process. Often samples are needed for photography, test markets or focus groups, and it is always an advantage to be able to experiment with and test different designs. Key markets for wide-format inkjet printers include entertainment, pharma- ceutical, food and beverage, cosmetics and consumer product packaging. In these markets, printers are primarily used to produce folding cartons, labels and flexible packaging. REVOLUTIONARY TECHNOLOGY UV inkjet technology is rapidly evolving and new systems are starting to introduce low-heat LED curing systems. These systems enable printing on virtually any substrate includ- ing heat shrink materials without damaging the substrate. Other examples include: self adhesive PVC, metallic papers, synthetic and natural leathers, coated and art paper, mesh materials, metalized polyesters, cast coated and metalized paper, foils, BOPP, PE , PET film and synthetic paper. Broad media compatibility, combined with the ability to print white, means that you can print on clear shrink films and produce prototypes that reflect the unique design and shape $$$ Producing Package Prototypes $$$ • Wide-format inkjet printing technologies have emerged that are simplifying this process. • High resolution print engines are key to creating re- alistic prototypes, allowing a close match to the final product in quality and color accuracy. • Printers /prototypers can be used to create graphics for an entire marketing campaign – everything from signage, banners and wraps to posters and POP displays to support a product launch. • New revenue opportunities for the designer can help build a business. UV-LED inkjets print on virtually any packaging substrate including metallic papers, films and flexible substrates used for food packaging. Photos: Roland DGA. 42 FLEXO JANUARY 2011 www.flexography.org
Sustainable Winter 2011