Digital Label Production Answers Short Run Growth

The dynamics of the label printing market are changing at an ever-increasing rate. Shorter lead times and run lengths are being driven by product diversification and more frequent promotions. A great example is Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign where you can purchase a Coke personalized with your first name. Absolut Vodka recently launched 4,000 unique and individually-numbered label designs as a brand extension. Using traditional flexo printing methods to profitably drive efforts like these are challenging. Combine this with a drive to reduce labor and inventory costs, and the search for digital production of labels is on the rise.

Until recently, the only options were “pay per click” toner based printers. However this technology can be expensive, is generally slow and the toner itself often has little or no physical or chemical resistance – dramatically limiting the number of label applications you can print.

Fortunately, recent technological innovations in inkjet printing have coincided with the rise of short run work requests. Systems using UV cured inks are more resistant to physical and chemical attack, making the digital inkjet printed labels highly durable. When combined with state-of-the-art print head technologies and a print engine that can produce ultra-high quality results at productive speeds and at an affordable price, new opportunities are now available to dramatically improve the efficiency of short run label work transferred from flexo.

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“The ability to print a job using analog, digital, or a combination of both all in-line on the same machine provides label converters a new competitive advantage.”
— Mike Barry, Product Marketing Manager Digital Solutions, Fujifilm

How Inkjet Transforms Label Production

By improving the efficiency of short run work transferred from flexo, inkjet production can turn a time consuming loss leader into a profitable business. For example, the time that is freed up on your current flexo presses can be used for more profitable long run work, so overall capacity is significantly increased. Plus the new design flexibility offered by the digital print process can create new opportunities for label versioning, variable data printing and other specialty work that is not viable with conventional flexo print processes.

Commercial web printers utilize Fujifilm inkjet technologies today to successfully:

  • Expand business opportunities by integrating digital as part of a fully integrated inline solution with flexographic, inkjet and finishing options.
  • Expand print opportunities by establishing “fit-for-purpose” labels exhibiting specific application properties like excellent adhesion, durability, light fastness, wet resistance and flexibility.
  • Experience profit gains on every label printed.
  • Achieve exceptional print quality on the most challenging substrates – paper, PE, PET, vinyl and even metalized materials.
  • Meet quicker schedule demands while freeing up existing flexo equipment.

How Inkjet Dominates the Short Run

Eliminates films and plates, significantly reducing setup and make-ready costs. Redefines on-demand printing.
Recent innovations in printhead technologies, UV inkjet ink chemistry, color-managed workflow software and real-time, closed-loop color controls have led to press solutions that approach offset quality.
Direct data printing provides the added flexibility in how you print, while remaining efficient for standard jobs using a wide variety of substrates. New modular systems provide high quality in-sync and in-line flexo and finishing options.
Inkjet presses deliver the exact number of prints you need, when you need them, significantly reducing overproduction waste.

Customized Label Trends

A recent campaign by Heinz allowed consumers to personalize a can of Tomato soup on the brand’s Facebook page and send it to a friend as a “get well soon” gift.
Heinz Tomato Soup