What’s the Deal with Digital?
“Digital printing is much more [prevalent] in the offset world producing cut sheets, than it is in the label world,” he continued. “There are few trade manufacturers who even have this technology for labels. So, there’s [limited] competition; it’s a relatively wide open market. Here is a real chance for distributors to go out and grab new business or convert preexisting label business to digital.”
Shanley explained when printing full-color product labels, changes resulting from different SKUs, color choices and item styles require conventional press operators to stop the machine, hang new plates, ensure proper registration and resume printing—a very time consuming, and thus costly, process.
“It’s not that big a deal if you have 10,000 labels and there’s one change—it might cost a hundred bucks,” he speculated. “But, say you have 10,000 labels requiring a hundred changes—do the math, it becomes extremely expensive. This is where digital would be a perfect option. There are no plates and no changeover costs, and it’s all done on the fly.” (However, Shanley pointed out that when printing 10,000 labels with no changes, a conventional press may be more cost effective since you’re only setting it up once, and digital presses run much slower.)
Digital printing is ideal when producing prime labels for wine and other beverages, personal care products, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, custom packaging and event promotions. Compared to a label run on a conventional flexo press, a label produced on a digital offset press offers customers a more aesthetically appealing product, which can encourage repeat business.
“With digital, you can hold a finer dot than flexo, which also adds to the ‘crispness’ of the printed image, registration is perfect and you don’t have to worry about trapping colors,” said Shanley.
Labels West’s Hewlett Packard Indigo is a seven-color digital machine designed to run primarily CMYK, so there are some limitations on color availability when running a process job. But, since there are three additional ink stations, the pressman can load violet in one, and perform what is called IndiChrome or Hexachrome printing.
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