How to choose the best corrugated paper digital printing technology

Jan. 08, 2021

From smart phones to the Internet to Amazon, we have witnessed tremendous changes in the past 25 years due to digital technology.

Today, buying a digital printing press is not as difficult as buying a car in the early days, because the equipment is not rare. However, due to a history of failed or unstable installations, even if manufacturers have the courage to invest the huge amount of money required for research and development to develop the latest digital printing technology, potential buyers will still be worried about their equipment.

This is not conducive to the future confidence in the application of digital technology in the corrugated box industry, but from the current point of view, the trend of the entire industry is changing.

So, what kind of digital printing machine should I buy?

Although the technology is still in its infancy, the choice of digital printing presses is so extensive that you must understand every detail of the equipment you buy before you decide, because if you choose the wrong one, you may have to pay a huge price for it. Therefore, let us first briefly understand the platform technology.

Platform technology

1. Channel technology

This type of machine is specially developed for large-scale signage and POS, and they have played an important role in the elimination of new ultra-large format offset printing presses. Generally, the most advanced multi-pass printers use high-quality UV inks and can run at speeds of 500-1,000 square meters per hour.

2. Single sheet digital printing

These state-of-the-art high-volume production machines use single-channel technology, which allows the print head to feed paper at one time and complete the printing process. Its printing quality is more suitable for packaging and long-term POS products. Its printing quality is slightly lower than that of multi-channel technology. However, the output is between 5,000-7,000 square meters per hour, which is enough to challenge medium-capacity high-quality post-printing and offset printing. The machine can usually use UV, water-based or mixed inks.

3. Coil digital printing

The output of digital printing of 2.8-meter-wide coils is 25,000 square meters per hour, which is undoubtedly the most efficient, but it is controversial that I cannot see the digital pre-printing output of coils and the production process of corrugated boxes. Coincide. Using water-based inks, this impressive innovation miracle met its old enemy, when the manufacturing principle of the tile thread was introduced and remained unchanged for more than 100 years. Steam, heat, pressure and waste are all enemies of digital technology, so I associate it with the installation of a Ferrari engine on a Ford Model T. Of course, this is somewhat useless from a compatibility point of view. Corrugated board technology must continue to evolve to unlock the highest opportunities presented by digital technology.

4. Ink

Sustainability will be the focus of attention for generations to come, but how will this affect which machine you should buy? UV ink helps to control the equipment more stably during the printing process, but it is carcinogenic and not suitable for direct contact with food packaging, although in some cases it is suitable for secondary packaging. UV ink also has an inherent smell, it is shiny, I am not sure whether these factors will be accepted by the market for a long time. UV inks used to display packaging products have been widely accepted and have not attracted the same attention.

Nevertheless, water-based ink technology has developed rapidly, but the machinery used to transport and dry the ink is more complicated and expensive. Although water-based inks are cheaper than UV inks, the energy required for high-speed drying can be shocking. Therefore, before making an investment, weigh the many pros and cons of water-based or UV technology, which is crucial to the market you are dedicated to serving for a long time.

Product value-added

After purchasing new assets, a certain foresight is required to ensure the ultimate success of investing in digital technology. What needs to be understood is that digital printing technology is not a substitute for your existing high-definition post-printing or offset printing process, but a supplement to your sales weapons, which will provide new market opportunities.

Generally, corrugated paper digital printing technology can provide a variety of printed materials for traditional corrugated packaging, e-commerce packaging, personalized needs, on-demand printing, and more consumer interaction. These digital printed materials are more effective than traditional analog printed materials. service. Nevertheless, the greater consumer demand generated by the printing innovations brought about by such solutions cannot be underestimated.

However, after all, digital technology provides opportunities, and such opportunities would not have been missed. For this reason, digital commodity prices should not be driven by strategies that mislead them to replace traditional analog printed products.

Sales skills

Knowing your target market and understanding the weaknesses of the numbers are the basis for successfully exploiting hitherto untapped opportunities. Analog mindset has no place in the digital world, so understanding the popularity of each technology is a good starting point, but you must never underestimate the positive contribution of analog technology to your digital journey.

Mixing analog and digital technologies can often provide the final solution. For example, an e-commerce carton can be offset printed on one side, and then digitally printed internally to achieve its personalized, interactive or thematic themes, and jointly provide you with value-added solutions.

But please note that because the cost of digital inks will disproportionately distort its ability to compete with analog printing inks. This may be a problem in the inquiry stage, because whether it is 25% coverage or 100% coverage, the ink coverage of the offset printing mount will not affect the unit cost, but the digital ink will.

Then, this directly creates a problem during the query phase. At this stage, the ink coverage of carton printing is usually unknown, so unless artwork exists, commercial sales should be wisely based on 100% coverage. Obviously, even without knowing all the facts of the artwork, it is estimated that all figures at 100% ink coverage will prevent it from replacing analog!

The solution is to re-educate the prepress personnel and processes. For example, packaging sales representatives, brand owners, purchasers, artwork creators, and marketers need to understand that the price sensitivity of digitalization is often affected by bad foresight. For this reason, all parties must unite to maximize the digital advantage.

Consumption trend

Despite the above considerations, don't underestimate the power of consumers. The requirements for sustainability, waste reduction, product knowledge, interactivity, convenience and brand awareness in packaging are what we consider to be consumer-driven needs.

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