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Need To Know

How to Unpeel Packaging

The packaging sector is a serious contender for your time, print-service-providers. Jo Golding seeks out the best advice, innovative technology, and insider market knowledge you need to know going forward

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Opening up opportunity

A report called The Future of Global Packaging to 2022 by Smithers Pira has said that packaging demand will grow steadily at 2.9 percent to reach $980 billion (around £726 billion) in 2022. However, what are the reasons behind this growth? Are there profitable opportunities for commercial printers in this sector? These are some of the questions I hope to answer in a nice, neat package for you so that you have all the tools you need to go forward in the packaging sector with confidence.

Experiencing packaging

Komori offers a variety of innovative technology driven tailored solutions suitable for the production of cartons and packaging. The company held an event focusing specifically on this not long ago to showcase its portfolio of packaging solutions. Its ‘Packaging Experience’ event was held in Utrecht, the Netherlands on May 16th and 17th. Komori welcomed roughly 250 visitors from over 35 countries into the Komori Graphic Center Europe, which included showing them the newly installed Komori Lithrone GLX-40 press, in a six-colour configuration with coater.

K-Supply is a Komori service providing customers with the ability to easily order pressroom supplies at best price

Peter Minis, marketing manager for Komori Europe, comments: “We are very happy with the number of attendees, the new GLX-40, Impremia IS29 inkjet press, together with our Highcon Euclid III digital die cutter gave us the opportunity to show visitors what Komori offers when it comes to high-quality carton and packaging printing for long-run and short-run applications. We even had a connection with Firstan in the UK, to allow us to bring the GLX-40RP reverse printer, into the event as well.”

Steve Turner, newly appointed managing director of Komori UK, comments on the market in general: “In terms of output, the size of the carton market in the UK and mature markets beyond has been relatively stagnant for a number of years, although the landscape is ever changing when you take account of the size and structure of the convertors. Where the market was once predominantly populated by medium sized private enterprise, there are now also several multinationals operating across multiple sites.

“It’s reasonable to assume though, the intense public and political focus on driving down the use of plastic packaging will benefit folding carton output in the future. Carton design is also a feature, as the brand owners strive to reduce cost and simultaneously increase shelf appeal, we see more examples of quirky design, and colour and text being used on the inside of the carton.”

In addition to the GLX-40 and the Lithrone product series, Komori offers its Apressia finishing equipment and K-Supply consumables.

Steve Turner is the newly appointed managing director of Komori UK, succeeding
Neil Sutton

Turner adds: “Commercial printers often see packaging as an attractive addition to the competitive world of print, and Komori presses of all sizes are capable of printing on thick folding box board. It needs to be remembered however, there are other considerations such as the use of low migration Ink for food packaging and also specialist finishing processes need to be employed.

“We see opportunities in the market for short-run or bespoke high-quality packaging, for example, presentation boxes for limited edition alcoholic beverages or luxury goods. The Impremia IS29 for print, and the Highcon Euclid III for the creation of intricate and innovative carton design are perfectly suited to this type of application.”

Personal touch

Another key player in packaging is Xerox, which has a significant customer base in the UK and Europe. Kevin O’Donnell, head of marketing, graphic communications business, at Xerox, says: “The growth in the packaging market is a good reflection of what’s going on in the broader print marketplace.

The intense public and political focus on driving down the use of plastic packaging will benefit folding carton output in the future

“More and more retailers are using segmenting to target consumer behaviour and as a result, manufacturers are looking for more personalised products and packaging to match. No longer targeting a mass market, retailers want to carry less stock but be able to get their products out as soon as possible. This has created a requirement for shorter run lengths and faster turnarounds, both of which are sweet spots for digital printing.

“A good example of this is the food market, where a rise in local producers has created a requirement for different packaging and wrapping of products to reflect their ‘home-grown’ sourcing. This demand for more variety in packaging, combined with retailers’ desire for more efficient supply chains is underpinning the growth in the packaging market that we are seeing today.”

What Xerox does well is offer not just the ability to print consistently on cardboard, but also the integration of workflows and finishing capabilities—providing an end-to-end manufacturing solution.

“The growth in the packaging market is a good reflection of what’s going on in the broader print marketplace,” says Kevin O’Donnell of Xerox

O’Donnell says: “Xerox’s Automated Packaging Solution is our latest response to the ever-increasing demands from brand owners for short-run, inline, digital print packaging solutions. Here are three top tips I would give commercial printers looking to get started in the packaging industry. First, start small and then scale up, marrying the benefits of digital print with your own capabilities.

“Second, do your research, investigate the market, and educate yourself on the differences and requirements. Third, engage with vendors to find a partner who can deliver on the whole manufacturing process, not just the printing element. At the end of the day, it’s an opportune time for commercial printers to be looking into this rapidly growing market.”

O’Donnell is positive about the opportunities available for printers, saying: “There are clear, profitable opportunities for commercial printers in the packaging industry, and lots of scope for investigation. The folding carton market in particular is one to look into as it is growing by around 40 percent annually in the digital space at the moment.

“When you strip it right back, the printing of cartons is just another print process so it shouldn’t be too daunting a market for a commercial printer to enter. That said, there are some clear differences that they will need to consider before making a commitment to incorporate packaging into their offering, for example, understanding the market they serve, the demands and standards packaging runs to, and the differences in the manufacturing process (particularly for the finishing side of printing).

“I’d recommend commercial printers start small and investigate the market thoroughly before building up their offering based on their existing skills.”

Pack a punch

You may be familiar with EFI’s presence in the packaging industry with its Nozomi C18000 single-pass corrugated packaging press, of which Alliance Packaging installed recently. The ultra-high-speed press has been praised in the digital corrugated packaging space because of its high production capacity and complete integrated system.

EFI’s Nozomi C18000 single-pass corrugated packaging press has been praised for its high production capacity

Alliance Packaging is a family-owned 500-employee business focusing on high-end corrugated applications and specialises in fast turnaround times and intricate designs.

“We are excited about this press because it is the only digital press available today that allows us to double-down on our strategy of short lead times mixed with high-end graphics,” says Alliance Packaging’s president, Scott Younger. He adds: “We chose EFI because of their incredible customer service, the quality of the Nozomi, and the press’s ability to produce high-end work at an economical price point.”

Alliance is not the only company seeing the benefits of the EFI Nozomi C18000. Smurfit Kappa Group decided to enhance its digital corrugated packaging production with the machine. Ignacio Sevillano, chief executive of Smurfit Kappa Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, says: “This digital printing partnership with EFI reflects Smurfit Kappa’s serious commitment to providing the best packaging solutions available.

“Our ability to achieve high-quality print production in larger volumes with the Nozomi press will mean our customers can establish better supply chain strategies and be more creative by producing multiple designs—all of which can help our customers sell more products and reduce their time to market, while employing a leaner, more sustainable packaging program.”

Stefano Russo of Uteco says the Sapphire Evo is an “ideal investment for both label and packaging print-service-providers”

Kodak recently partnered up with Uteco on its own packaging venture, to launch a new digital press designed to offer new opportunities for brands and packaging service providers. The Sapphire Evo, which is now commercially available, addresses a full range of low and high-volume applications that produce up to 300m/min. The new machine can handle media as wide as 650mm and can print at up to 622mm.

O Factoid: Apple takes its packaging very seriously. Hidden away at Apple’s headquarters is a secret packaging room that is only accessible to a select few, where prototype boxes are tested. O

Stefano Russo, chief operating officer at Uteco, says: “As the demand for mass versioning and customisation of packaging grows globally, hybrid flexo, gravure, and digital printing is becoming a very important part of packaging providers’ offerings. The combination of Uteco and Kodak’s technologies not only delivers a competitive option for digital short-run printing, but also competes in medium-long print runs. This makes the Sapphire Evo an ideal investment for both label and packaging print-service-providers.”

With increased shelf appeal important today, the demand for high quality, personalised, and often quirky packaging is high. Luckily for print-service-providers, there is a whole host of technology out there to make this possible and the experts say now is an opportune time to get started.


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