Inkjet & Digital Printing
Web to pack: Packaging goes digital
Monday 19. November 2018 - Around 25 percent of all printed products are packagings: a huge market that, with an average of approximately three percent annually, is the market segment with the strongest growth in the industry. International brands do have the most demanding quality standards on advertising and product staging.
Trends such as ever declining runs, faster innovation cycles, shorter delivery times, increasing cost pressures, falling margins, more embellishments, zero defect production, and customized packagings must be kept in mind. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is the only manufacturer to enable new business models for packaging printing, such as supply on demand or web to pack, by integrating offset and digital printing, including postpress via the Prinect workflow. The two technologies are perfect complements – offset printing is perfect for longer runs, while digital printing shows its strengths when it comes to shorter runs and jobs involving variable data. Lifecycle Solutions with Saphira consumables and services are an essential part of Heidelberg’s solution offering for achieving top quality, productivity, and production reliability. Saphira has established itself as a quality brand in ten years.
Web to pack is more than just an online shop
Packaging print shops that operate and produce at an international level are facing other challenges: Brand producers are developing new packaging variants of a product with increasing frequency, resulting in greater product diversity with declining run lengths. The Primefire digital printing system is the perfect solution for high-quality industrial packagings that need to be produced on demand in small quantities and as quickly as possible. This means that personalized packagings are also possible, which opens up new possibilities for brand manufacturers. The Heidelberg Primefire 106 combines the best of two worlds: the flexibility and versatility of digital printing with the reliability and precision of offset printing. This enables customers to offer new business models, such as mass customization, and short runs with web to pack as well as supply on demand solutions.
However, web to pack is more than “just” an online shop where folding cartons are offered via the Internet. It is a basic philosophy for making your business and the entire workflow organization fit for the future in the age of Print 4.0. Web to pack is a shift away from the individual production of an order and towards custom large-scale production using standardization and automation. The print shop offers, for example, a limited choice of carton formats, spot colors and embellishments. The customer configures his product online and can upload his own images, while the print shop gets a standardized order which it can produce quickly and cost effectively in gang runs and without changeovers. It works exactly the same as with online advertising print shops, which are now well-established. The advantages for the print shop are obvious: No stockpiles and fewer manual interventions mean fewer errors and costs, and therefore greater speed and flexibility.
New customer groups are reached
Web to pack is already used by many of colordruck Baiersbronn’s customers. The company is one of Europe’s technological leaders in packaging printing. The company is a decade-long customer of Heidelberg and has seen its business models go through many successful evolutions. The Primefire 106 has been undergoing field testing there since the beginning of 2018, and its range of applications is growing constantly. “We see ourselves as a packaging service provider and offer our customers the three business areas Packaging Production, Packaging Service and Packaging Digital,” explains Thomas Pfefferle, one of the two Managing Directors. The Packaging Service business area has its own packaging machines, which – in keeping with the current season – are used, for example, to fill Advent calenders with chocolate.
During the ongoing field testing, Heidelberg is constantly further developing the Primefire 106 together with colordruck on the basis of current market requirements. Variable data printing, where every sheet is printed differently, is already working. “We mainly use the Primefire 106 for the following applications: short runs up to approximately 1,500 sheets, orders that are received via the web shop, and customized runs involving variable data,” explains Martin Bruttel, also Managing Director. Particular benefits include the short makeready times, minimal paper waste, and easy spot color simulation. The quality of the Primefire complements the offset presses perfectly. Short runs can be produced economically on the Primefire, taking the strain off the offset presses. The important aspects as far as packaging printing is concerned are postpress, and an overall consistent process. In this way, existing die-cutting tools in the 3b format are also used for the postpress of digital prints.
The web shop “designyourpackaging.de”, via which the customer can order customized and personalized packagings through to mass customization, has made a successful start. As part of the Packaging Digital business area, it is integrated with elements such as an editor for personalized inputs, design wizards, 3D preview, automatic data checking, the payment system, and delivery. “Here we produce mock-ups, smallest batches for trade fair activities and for marketing campaigns in quantities ranging from 1 to 1,000, or proofs for brand producers with different variants,” continues Martin Bruttel. “With web to pack, we have already produced high-quality packagings for the Japanese market, for example. The customer was impressed as the color stability is identical from the first to the last sheet, and the color consistency is outstanding – in other words, it has the proverbial Japanese quality.” Other advantages include the fact that the inks and consumables are safe for use in the food sector, as well as the minimal paper waste.
With the Primefire, colordruck is opening up new customer groups. In its offset printing arm, colordruck continues to produce premium packagings using four highly automated Speedmaster machines from the latest generation. “The direction of movement is clear: analog production is increasingly being automated and processed with Industry 4.0 and in the workflow,” confirms Thomas Pfefferle. “With the highly automated machines of Heidelberg – both in offset and digital printing – we have a high-performance system landscape and can flexibly decide with which technology we can produce an order most economically.”