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Business Opportunities

Packaging Applications

As the possibilities of digital print continue to be explored, packaging is becoming an increasingly popular offering for printers. Summer Brooks finds out where the market is going

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Luxury packaging helps high-end brands to add value

Where is packaging heading?

It feels like it is highlighted consistently, with brands and businesses clamouring to make their packaging solutions sustainable. But sustainable doesn’t have to mean boring, as many seek to use quirky and innovative packaging solutions for their products – but also in special events where the packaging can play a pivotal role in the branding.

Rob Goleniowski, head of sales for UK and Ireland at Roland, says the packaging market is growing and shifting in its demands. He comments: “We are getting more and more enquiries about printing on biodegradable materials and this is a trend that we can see growing in the future. Printer manufacturers will need to meet this consumer demand with greater urgency in the years to come and Roland are already developing inks which have minimal environmental impact.”

Intelligent labelling on packaging helps brands streamline customer experience

Delga Press has built its business serving the music and entertainment sector, producing various cases and sleeves for CDs, DVDs and vinyl. Ian Conetta, group managing director at The Delga Group, says the company is handling a lot more requests from various industries.

He comments: “In recent times our customer base has diversified to include many other sectors, including vape, cosmetics, drinks, chocolate and pharmaceutical. The requirement for packaging, in particular good quality folding box board, continues to grow and develop, particularly as consumers are engaging more with the visual concept.”

Sustainable, but quality

“Personalisation is going to become increasingly important and companies will need to invest in technology that lets them create individually customised packaging on demand,” says Goleniowski. “With many smaller start-ups growing through platforms like Etsy, we’re also seeing lots of smaller companies bring their packaging production in-house on a smaller scale to reduce outsourcing costs and exercise more control over their output.”

Innovation is key within packaging. The ability to provide a customer with a plausible solution is a pre-requisite

Conetta says Delga is seeing demands rise for packaging across all markets with more businesses looking for board solutions, rather than plastic. “The need for businesses to move away from plastic means that packaging printers who are able to demonstrate innovative conceptual designs using folding box board are further enhancing their reputation,” he comments. “Innovation is key within packaging. The ability to provide a customer with a plausible solution is a pre-requisite.”

The Keaykolour paper range also includes rigid board for premium packaging applications

Packaging is another sector where brands are looking to add value – be it in texture, finishing or colour. Antalis distributes a range of papers and packaging across Europe and is seeing an increase in demand for “stand-out” designs in packaging. Rob Mannix, creative papers director at Antalis comments: “Keaykolour, a range of uncoated papers and high-rigid boards for premium printing and packaging applications and Rives, a premium range of textured paper available in various colours are two products which are providing clients with new choice.”

Delga produces a range of packaging solutions for the entertainment sector

Delga’s Conetta says the firm’s recent investment has allowed for a larger range of substrates. He adds: “Our HP Indigo 12000 enables us to offer an in-house function for printing white and CMYK on mirri-board, kraft and black materials, this offers an added value to the product and gives us an edge, particularly in short-run high quality packaging. The ability to print in HD quality, and offering digital variable data and imagery offers designers and brands fresh ideas for products and campaigns.”

Dufaylite produces environmentally sound solutions for the packaging and display markets, only offering 100% recyclable products. Paul Gill, head of sales for packaging and display at the firm, comments: “For us, it’s about our products being better for the environment than any other alternative. We compete strongly against polystyrene, foam and heavier corrugated materials. Our applications are varied from simple edge protection, void formers and layer pads through to bespoke systems to solve complex packaging and shipping problems. Complete control of the manufacturing process is key to us. This is why we start with our raw material paper and covert it all here in the UK. We have designed and developed our own machinery to aid manufacture and have a multitude of conversion equipment from slitters, vee formers and presses to automated CAD tables.”

Please, no plastic

“With the continuing growth of shorter run packaging, Antalis is making it easier for clients to specify Keaykolour and Rives in smaller quantities, in the right sheet sizes and for digital print application, particularly for HP Indigo,” says Mannix.

He also says brands are looking to reduce the amount of packaging they are using per unit, with a focus on eliminating plastic use where possible. He says this is where products the company distributes from Iggesund and Arjowiggins come in. He says: “Both mills manufacture technically superior products in their fields in terms of rigidity, bulk, rub resistance and light fastness.”

The quality in the material speaks volumes for brands which want their customers to see the high-end nature reflected in the touch, as well as the look. Antalis has seen an increase in demand for the Curious Translucents range, a cellulose-based transparent material which is being used in place of clear or opaque plastic, offering a sustainable solution for brands.

O Factoid: The global digital print for packaging market is expected to reach $23.3bn in 2022 (Smithers Pira).O

Delga has the capabilities to handle all levels of folding box board, allowing the firm to offer more options to its clients for packaging solutions. “Our recent investment in the only HP Indigo 12000 built for packaging in the UK means we are able to push the boundaries even further with high quality/short-run carton work,” Conetta remarks. “Our CAD team have a phenomenal skill level and this, complimented by the digital press, enables us to provide a printed prototype to our customers, further adding value to our service.”

With the ongoing pressure to reduce the use of plastics in packaging, we are seeing greater demand for paperboard solutions

Nick Edmonson, graphical board product manager at Antalis, comments: “With the ongoing pressure to reduce the use of plastics in packaging, we are seeing greater demand for paperboard solutions. As digital technology allows for the increase in the ability to print larger sheets and thicker substrates, we are seeing more frequent use of graphical board for packaging applications.

“There is always a demand for interesting and creative products to enhance the product appearance and products like Metalprint Silver for HP Indigo are helping with this.” Invercote Metalprint Silver is produced by Iggesund with both coated and uncoated boards for digital printing – just one of the many materials suited to packaging applications.

The environment is the number one priority for companies like Dufaylite. Gill adds: “We see packaging as a growing sector, especially in design and innovation. Packaging is no longer viewed as a last-minute consideration to keep the product safe in transit, but a key part of the whole experience of buying and owning a new product. Quality packaging is a true sign of a quality product, not just in the materials used but in the ease of which the item can opened and disposed of.

“With materials, they need to be environmentally acceptable and recognisable as being so. The best examples of these materials have been known to us for hundreds of years; things like jute, wool, cotton and of course paper. What packaging has to say is simple and straight forward – we care about you the consumer, the product and the environment.”

Packing it in

Packaging can also help brands to further promote their message, for example, at press events where a special product may be offered. As part of a collaboration with Renault F1 Team, Roland produced one-off burger cartons for a special press event in Austin, Texas. The designs were based on the colours of the drivers’ helmets and printed on matte vinyl with the TrueVIS VG-640 wide-format printer/cutter and then cut and creased with the CAMM-1 GR-640 large-format vinyl cutter.

The Renault F1 team designed its own branded packaging to promote the team in Texas

One-off press or retail events are increasingly focusing on their visual communications at such events, as customers look for a more visually-stimulating experience. In retail, products are normally packaged in some way, but hosting special retail events where customers can print or design their own customised packaging could prove lucrative for PSPs. Whether it’s a brand’s customers or the brand itself, being able to add a personal touch is helping to boost sales across several markets.

Roland produced one-off branded burger boxes for a press event

Speed is key in packaging production, as the demand for shorter runs increase. But this should not mean sacrificing quality. “Prospective clients are now more demanding than they used to be,” comments Goleniowski. “They expect to see prototypes that will closely reflect the finished product and represent their brand in the most accurate way. It’s therefore crucial for print-service-providers to invest in equipment that can hit a wide gamut of colours with impeccable consistency.”

He concludes: “Expectations are also much higher in terms of turnaround speeds and, in a very competitive market, suppliers need reliable devices and manufacturer support that can mitigate any downtime. Speed to market is vital, so having in-house prototyping and testing facilities is more valuable than ever.”

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