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Trade Comment

Label printing

With packaging printing continuing to increase in volume, Harry Mottram asks “Is label printing for packaging and products the new growth area for printing and what is driving this?”

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Miles Hawley, chief design officer, Precipice Design

Label initiatives

Precipice Design is frequently asked to refresh, enhance or extend existing product ranges. This is a ubiquitous request across the multiple categories in which we work. That could be a global FMCG packaging rebrand, a healthcare device development programme or a new consumer product pipeline. Commonplace across these disparate projects is the challenging client request for an elevation of the brand and enhanced user experience, but at speed and within constrained budgets. More often than not, labelling helps us to achieve these initiatives.


Labels carry premium finishes and strategically selected colours, providing patients and clinicians with a quality experience

Mundipharma, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has been working with Precipice for a number of years developing respiratory devices. Using high-quality labelling we have radically enhanced their inhaler portfolio. Labels have provided a better alternative to surface printing or injection moulded options, delivering a cost-effective way to achieve premium and trustworthy brand values, a vehicle for delivering detailed regulatory information, tamper proofing features and a means by which the devices can be easily differentiated by dose strength. Labels carry premium finishes and strategically selected colours, providing patients and clinicians with a quality experience and the ability to easily identify their inhalers from other devices in a clinical or domestic environment. So much value from such a cost-effective element within the bill of materials.

Similarly, when working with Nestle SkinHealth on the global rebrand of Cetaphil, we were able to create a complete portfolio refresh, including significantly improved range navigation for consumers. Pack structures remained fundamentally unchanged but through innovative label design and substrate selection, the rebrand was rapid, cost-effective and commercially successful.

So, in answer to the question, the latest labelling and associated print technologies provide designers with a flexible tool to rapidly develop new innovative product propositions, rapidly bringing enhanced brand and user experiences to market at costs not achievable via other manufacturing methods.

Rising demand

Paul Fellows, general manager, PFW Labels

Technical advances in label printing and cutting has now become more available to the self-adhesive label industry. There is a change in demand and we are seeing a departure from traditional label printing methods such as flexo and litho, which is only cost-effective for large volumes and includes plate costs, tool costs, longer lead times and often excess inventory for the customer.

Now what we are seeing is a rising demand, in this present digital age, for higher quality products, smaller quantities and bespoke designs including variable data. This has been made more possible in recent times with the development of digital print, laser die cutting and the ability of this equipment to make the labels ready for the consumer in one pass. Jobs can be programmed in at the beginning of a shift and they can all be run without stopping the machine.


Jobs can be programmed in at the beginning of a shift and they can all be run without stopping the machine

At PFW Labels we have seen a surge in digital labels because customers can have top quality labels in any shape or size without paying premiums for short runs, and there are absolutely no charges for tools or plates. Lead times are short and there are options for variable data and over laminating… all in one pass.

We exhibited at The Print Show for the second year running and whilst we have always been able to supply printed roll labels, the “buzz” for this year’s Print Show was the new digitally printed inkjet labels as mentioned above. The feedback from our customers and other visitors to our stand was that it wasn’t worth making the labels themselves when they are available at such competitive prices from specialist label print suppliers.

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