Business planning news flash: The year 2020 is less than five years and one month away. What will your firm look like 61 months into the future? Will it still be around? Will it offer wide-format printing? And what about printing packages? Wide format and packaging remain two growing segments of the otherwise flat print marketplace. The global packaging market is poised to increase to more than $1 trillion (USD) by 2018, according to some current forecasts. So whether you’re a digital, offset, flexo, or hybrid printing firm, opportunities abound.
Among digital package and label printing hardware OEMs, Hewlett-Packard is the worldwide market-share leader with more than 60 percent share (in 2014), according to research firm IDC, led by its Indigo and Scitex models. HP is followed by Xeikon, EFI, and Epson. Newer entrants include Screen, Durst, Delphax, Founder, and Fujifilm.
Smaller player Xante has enjoyed strong sales abroad of its Excelagraphix 4200, a 42-inch inkjet system first introduced in mid-2013 that can print custom full color containers with special promotions, personalized ad copy and graphics – all on demand. Recent installations have been at CCA Packaging in China and at U-MOOV Packaging in Saudi Arabia.
The Excelagraphix 4200 is powered by proprietary Memjet Waterfall Printhead Technology, which delivers more than 3 billion drops of ink per second for print speeds up to eight times faster (up to 12 inches per second) than traditional inkjet technology. This speed, combined with a compact footprint and price point, allows the device to open new business opportunities and markets previously unserviced by the packaging industry, says Xante.
An adjustable media path allows users to print on a wide variety of media including ultrathick foam board and corrugated cardboard (up to 3/8 inches thick) and sheet sizes from 8.27×12 inches up to 42 inches by 50 feet. Applications include full-color POP displays, packaging, folding cartons, and corrugated boxes produced in a matter of seconds, on-demand. The best part is that variable data can be run full speed to personalize individual pieces — in one pass.
The complete solution is driven by the iQueue Simply Brilliant Prepress Workflow. IQueue automates prepress production and makes it easy to manage multiple digital files, make independent CMYK and density adjustments, match critical spot colors, select the desired linescreen, screen angles and dot shape. Users can also apply and save custom imposition templates,nudge/rotate a digital file on a specific sheet size, track multiple run counts, and estimate individual job cost from multiple user workstations.
For larger volumes in the sheetfed-offset realm, “packaging is based on price per sheet,” pointed out Andy Rae, senior VP of equipment at Heidelberg USA, “… and postpress is a big part of its overall cost.” To avoid production logjams and bottlenecks, “smart printers plan backwards from the bindery,” Rae explained. “It’s unlike commercial job-shop thinking. In packaging, folders and gluers are the fastest machines,” not the presses themselves. These print service providers have more of a manufacturing mentality, he added, acknowledging that “printing is not as much of an art and craft anymore.