Digital Printing Options

This label was a packagePRINTING Excellence Awards Best of Show Winner. It was printed using an HP Indigo 4000 digital press, and printed on a metalized FLEXcon BOPP substrate.

This packagePRINTING Excellence Award First Place winner, for the Flexible Packaging—Digital category, was printed using a Xerox digital press.

There is a digital option for almost any criteria package printers have. packagePRINTING asks leading suppliers about what is available today.

Digital printing technologies are continuing to become more mainstream—to the point that manufacturers of digital printing equipment are beginning to more outwardly take aim at traditional printing processes. But, digital printing isn’t for everyone, and does require capital investment most times to begin offering it as an option.

packagePRINTING queried some of the most active suppliers in the market about what digital printing options are available to package printers, as well as digital prinitng as a technology in general. Respondents include, Vince Pentella, who manages worldwide labels and packaging business development for Indigo division of HP; Kristof Dekeukelaere, Agfa’s :Dotrix sales manager, North America; Kenneth D. Stack, Ph.D., senior vice president/general manager, Jetrion Industrial Inkjet Systems, Electronics for Imaging, Inc.; and Michael V. Ring, president, Xeikon.

pP: What are the digital printing options available to package printers?

Pentella: There are two basic primary digital printing methods: inkjet and electrophotography. In packaging printing, particularly for labels, electrophotography—or more specifically liquid electrophotography using HP Indigo technology—is one choice. HP’s current Indigo press lineup includes the HP Indigo press ws4500 and the WS6000 Digital Press.

These converting solutions are often used for labels, but also for shrink sleeves, flexible packaging, in-mold labels and folding cartons. Converters can also produce larger packaging work digitally using flatbed large-format inkjet printers such as the HP Scitex FB500, FB700 and FB7500 printers.

Dekeukelaere: Most solutions on the market are focused on the label market. They have limited width and are restricted substrates.

A step up are the hybrid digital presses. They combine flexo and UV inkjet technology which allows inline treating (priming/corona/flexo white) and printing on the substrates of the industry. Whether you print on a 24-pt SBS board, a 25 micron LDPE or aluminum film, you can print it 24.8˝ wide by any length and get it finished as a sheet or on a roll. Even inline finishing like diecutting, laminating, embossing, slitting, etc. become possible. All technologies offer full variable data.

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