Flexo Daily Future of Digital Printing for Packaging

Kodak, the iconic brand best known for consumer products like cameras and film, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012 so they could restructure. Well, now they’ve sold off a slew of assets, refocused on business products, exited bankruptcy protection, and relisted on January 8 on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol KODK).

One of their new focuses is digital printing systems, and they’re not the only ones who are expecting a healthy future for digital printing.

Digital printing is answering the needs of printers and packagers. As technology has advanced, making short runs more efficient and economical, more CPG brands are turning to digital to make their packaging stand out.

In a recent piece at What They Think?, Smithers Pira’s Steve Hill used the example of Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign as what’s possible with digital. The campaign entailed 750 million packs of personalized products released in 35 European countries. Coca-Cola replaced its iconic brand name with 250 names. Care for an ice-cold Andre, anyone? A Dad for Father’s Day? And it was all done with digital.

Hill wrote: Without digital print the project would not have been possible; printing the labels using analog methods would give the same number of individual bottles, but they would then be labeled and delivered together. Randomly printing names sequentially is the only way to get the right distribution at the point of sale.

Digital printing is more flexible and makes short print runs feasible with limited waste. The biggest market for digital, predicts Hill, will be labels. They already make up most of the market—$6 billion last year alone. asked HP UK marketing manager Julie Cole about the benefits of digital, and she lists minimizing waste, ability to perform test runs, multiple versions, specialization, personalization, and color matching and consistency.

Both Cole and Hill note that digital has been slow to catch on with some brand owners, particularly, as Hill says, because they thought it expensive and challenging, although that perception is changing. Certainly, consumer products companies will be keeping a close eye on campaigns like Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” as an illustration of how digital can be used.

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