While there are many discussions about electronics replacing printed books, printed packaging is under no threat to go electronic. It is, however, being transformed by digital printing, which meets growing needs for economic short runs, customized and personalized packaging, and interactivity with customers via QR (quick response) codes and other means.
At a recent Automated Digital Packaging Thought Leadership Workshop at our Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation in Rochester, New York, digitally printed packaging was discussed by packaging converters interested in learning more about digital opportunities and commercial digital printers looking to establish packaging operations.
One of our guest speakers at this two-day workshop, Bob Leahey from InfoTrends, described the worldwide market for digitally printed packaging to be expected to double from 2009 to 2014 to nearly $4 billion in revenue. More than 90 percent of that revenue is from labels, but the fastest growing segment is folding cartons, which is expected to grow at a 23.3 percent compound annual growth rate. I knew there has been an increased focus in digital packaging, but I didn’t realize how much this market is expected to grow in the near future.
To capture that opportunity, Matti Koski, the director of Stora Enso Media Solutions, described an in-line folded carton printing and converting solution his firm developed for Xerox iGen printers. It enables packaging volumes ranging as low five and fewer to be printed on demand, efficiently and profitably by firms such as Mediaware Digital Ltd. in Dublin, Ireland, which produces software packaging for Microsoft Corporation. (If you were at IPEX, we were printing Mediaware’s packaging solution live at the show!)
When it comes to pre-production systems and workflows, Larry Moore from EskoArtwork talked about how to successfully create a digital packaging file. He created a packaging application right in front of attendees, and showed how you are able to optimize sheet layout and see the graphics on the box folded up on screen. On the Xerox side of the house, Dr. Reiner Eschbach, a Xerox Research Fellow in our Xerox Innovation Group discussed individualized security printing on packaging… which really got a lot of attention. And of course, everyone got to see the Xerox Automated Packaging Solution run live on our demo floor!
A customer, Louis J. Crockett Jr., the president of Keiger Printing Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, attended “for the networking opportunities, to share ideas and gain solutions insights from people who face similar issues,” he said. His firm, an integrated marketing solutions provider and member of the Xerox Premier Partners Global Network of leading digital print providers, occasionally prints packaging materials for finishing and converting by partner companies.
“I want to know what the options are for bringing the finishing in house, because I think we have an opportunity to be a more valuable partner if we can do that work,” Crockett said. The Xerox workshop is “something of a safe haven,” he said. “Unlike at trade shows, people don’t feel threatened about sharing information freely here.” And that is true… these workshops are an open forum where questions are welcomed at any time.
About the Gil Hatch Center
Xerox hosts about 50 Thought Leadership Workshops annually at the Gil Hatch Center for Customer Innovation, the world’s largest showcase of digital printing technology, located on the Xerox manufacturing, research and engineering campus in Webster, N.Y. These workshops are focused on specific topics of interest— like Books, Photo Publishing, Marketing Plan Development, Interactive New Media, Direct Marketing, and many others.
If you are interested in attending a TLW, please contact your Xerox sales rep for more information!