Print digitally at 300 meters per minute (mpm) — with print quality comparable to high-quality flexo — at fractions of a penny per item, all integrated onto your existing package press system. Does this sound too good to be true? Many of today’s inkjet systems can grow businesses while managing risk and minimizing running costs. Inkjet printing systems can be integrated onto existing presses, minimizing floor space, equipment complexity and the impact to your operations. Inkjet printing heads are already operating in various packaging applications, providing value-enhanced printing onto cartons, food bags, and now, flexible films.

The addition of inkjet printing systems onto existing presses provide customers with the best of both worlds by creating a hybrid printing capability – using the flexo or gravure press to print the common image, data or critical brand color, and an inkjet printing system to add additional value. With this hybrid approach, brand owners are able to grow their businesses by adding features and capabilities that will interest their customers.

Hybrid printing provides many value-added capabilities to your operation. These include basic points like printing of logistic bar codes for track and trace capability, preventing press stops due to changes in SKU codes and quick to market addition of recent events and related promotions. Ultimately, this value enables brand owners to build a better and more direct relationship with their customers through variable QRC/s, gaming or other promotions.

Adding Value

Consider creating a simple collectors addition on your packaging. Instead of typically running five or six versions, you can now create 20, 30, 40, and so on, all without stopping the press. Furthermore, with appropriate planning, you can limit the number of highly desired items as a means to drive more sales. Imagine juice boxes packed in sets of six with three faces showing and three not showing. How many cases will mom and dad buy to help their child acquire the entire collection? It worked for collectible sports cards; it can work for all types of consumer packaged goods.

In another application, customers can apply micro-zone marketing techniques using simple current applications like customer recipes. Instead of printing one or two winning recipes, you can now print 10’s or 100’s, shipping them to the regions from where the recipe creator and/or submitter are located. In turn, this may help drive interest from new and existing customers, bringing brands closer to their buyers and generating nice lifts in revenue.

Brand owners can also benefit by being quick to market to share in end users’ excitement about local events. For instance, not only can packages have advanced statements on events, but a follow on after the event notifying winners or other key actions will help build follow on sales.

Leveraging Hybrid Packaging

Printing codes for pharmaceuticals packaged in China and other countries, for example, provides a high level of track and trace capability and consumer interaction via QRC responses. This instance combines the need for high-speed, high-quality printing, durability, and low cost – key features of which are available with hybrid printing using inkjet printing systems.

In another application, Kodak PROSPER Inkjet printing systems are integrated onto a flexo food bag printing and an in-line folding and gluing system. Take a small shop owner in France, for example, that now has the ability to have its address or a promotion printed onto its baguette bags. Initial responses to this type of scenario have been very positive. This application combines the need for a flexo inkjet system to be integrated onto an existing press that can run at preferred press speeds and produce good quality, while meeting food contact regulations – all features of which are available.

While driving up the amount of value brand owners and print service providers are able to deliver to customers, operating costs must also be kept in mind. Hybrid printing using inkjet printing systems can help minimize costs during production, while providing production efficiencies, thanks to the use of standard media and standard industry components for drying and other processes. This enables brand owners and print service providers to run at their existing presses’ preferred speeds, while maintaining and enhancing productivity. 

Significant production efficiencies can be achieved by combining versions of a job into a single press run. For instance, gaming or QRC’s, source of product or other items of interest to consumers can easily be printed at high speeds without stopping the press on materials such as plastic films, carton board or packaging papers. No press stops means greater production efficiency resulting in lower printing costs.

In summary, hybrid printing using inkjet printing systems provides a path to grow businesses, while managing risk, minimizing costs and providing brand owners and print service providers with a great technology choice.