While digital printing is an everyday reality for many sectors from books to direct mail, the packaging sector still takes a mostly conventional approach.
Yet packaging print is facing many of the same kind of pressures that have driven other sectors to invest in digital technologies. There is the same need to cut down on waste and to avoid having stock tied up in warehouses. Brand owners are constantly looking for ways to engage their customers, with regular promotions that can react quickly to events, such as a surprise win in a national sporting event or a sudden change in VAT rules. This means that run lengths are coming down as brands look at shorter runs of different versions. At the same time, digital printing technology is improving with higher image quality at faster production speeds which is helping to raise the break even point where digital becomes a feasible alternative.
Every so often we see something new that moves the argument in favour of digital along a little. Recently, we travelled to the Czech Republic to visit an independent corrugated printer, Obaly Morava. This is the first company to have installed HP's new T400 Simplex inkjet press for printing corrugated media.
Obaly Morava is a family business, headed up by CEO Martin Rehorik. It has around 250 employees and runs three continuous shifts. To start with, the company outsourced the corrugated production but in 1996 installed its first corrugating machine. Today the company is still the only independent Czech producer of corrugated board and packaging.