Fourth Annual Digital Packaging Summit Expands its Scope
Since the Digital Packaging Summit launched in 2015, an increase in digital printing options has expanded the use of the technology throughout the packaging industry. With so many digital platforms to choose from, package printers and converters that want to reap the benefits of adding digital capabilities have had to navigate decisions on what to buy and how to integrate it into their production environment.
With the increase in digital printing platforms hitting the market, Marco Boer, VP of I.T. Strategies and co-chairman of the Digital Packaging Summit, says that this year’s event (Nov. 5-7, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) will zero in on strategies for digital printing implementation. Boer, who also serves as chairman of the Inkjet Summit, a similar event serving commercial printers, explains there are more complexities in package printing, compared to the commercial segment, and it’s imperative for converters to understand how digital impacts the complete supply chain.
“In order to be successful, because it’s so complicated, we have to be much more educated in this space than we would in the commercial print side,” Boer says. “It is so much more fragmented and the nuances are so much more complicated. You have a much broader range of substrates, conversion processes, finishing processes and the like.”
In addition to the increase of digital printing options available to converters, the Digital Packaging Summit will also address digital printing’s expansion into the various packaging segments. In its first two iterations, the Summit solely covered the label and folding carton segments, bringing corrugated into the conversation for the first time last year. And while flexible packaging is not an official track at this year’s summit, attendees can expect to hear introductory discussions of digital printing for flexible packaging.
Kevin Karstedt, CEO of Karstedt Partners and co-chairman of the Digital Packaging Summit, says that this year, digital has gained additional traction in the folding carton segment, and with the commercial availability of multiple single-pass digital corrugated presses, the corrugated segment is beginning to obtain the same digital benefits as its counterparts in the packaging industry.
“In the carton and now the corrugated sector, things have dramatically changed,” Karstedt says. “We have products that are coming out and we’re dabbling in it, we’re looking at it, there’s a lot of pent up demand for information on it.”
Thinking Big, Going Small
Though there have been multiple successful implementations of digital printing within large brands with a global reach, this year’s Summit will discuss the rise of craft and boutique brands and how digital printing can help converters serve the needs of these burgeoning businesses.
“What we’re learning is that the fit of digital package printing is much better at this stage in the game with smaller brands and smaller converters,” Boer says. “They’re able to take some risks and to do some things that fit outside the typical highly structured process that large brands and large converters have.”
Karstedt explains that the rise of digital printing and the desire among consumers to support craft and boutique brands has created a “perfect storm” for digital printing adoption.
“Now that digital is coming in, there’s a need exploding for the capabilities of digital,” Karstedt says. “And digital is getting to the point where it can address many of these needs.”
Learning through Interacting
Coming at the end of the busy fall trade show and conference season, part of what has set the Digital Packaging Summit apart from the other packaging industry events taking place this time of year is the event’s format. In addition to panel discussions and presentations from leading industry experts, the Summit provides opportunities for converters and suppliers to meet one-on-one, away from bustling trade show booths, to discuss individual converters’ needs and how digital can fit into their operations.
Additionally, Karstedt says that attendees should take advantage of the Summit’s multiple opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. Because attendees at the Summit may have varying levels of experience with digital printing, it could be highly beneficial for a converter in attendance who has not made the leap into digital to take the opportunity to discuss the experience with those who have.
“You’re going to learn a lot from the 40 vendors and suppliers that are there, but you also have a lot of time and ability to talk to your peers that have already done it and are on their second or third generation of digital,” Karstedt says.
Boer says that this year’s event will also take the conversation beyond just printing. Specifically, he says that as digital printing continues to gain adoption, printers and converters will need to obtain the proper finishing equipment and figure out how to implement it into their workflow.
“It’s a bottleneck for sure, but could also be a great opportunity,” he says. “Those that jump in first with trying to figure out how to automate that will probably gain a strategic advantage that will be very difficult for others to catch up to.”