Digital Printing

How digital is driving flexible label printing By Rob Brown, head of speciality print, North West Europe, OKI Europe

make or break a product. A good label can capture the unique characteristics of


the content, grab the attention of a passing shopper and ultimately sell a product and drive repeat purchases. It is, however, the creativity and flexibility of the printing process that can help businesses ensure that labelling has a lasting impact for business – beyond the label itself. The advent of digital solutions has

ushered in a new era of flexible label printing and that is attracting a wide range of organisations who want to tap into the benefits that printing short-run high-quality durable labels can bring. That is especially true of boutique industries, such as craft ale manufacturers and gin houses, which have an ongoing need for high-quality creative labelling to promote their typically diverse product offerings. Users can set up a digital printer to

quickly run off 100 or 1,000 copies of a document, or in some cases just one or two. If they were looking to achieve that with analogue technology, the process would be complex and costly. In fact, it would often be unsustainable, as whenever they undertook a new job, organisations would need to prepare an entire lithographic print press, an expensive and time-consuming process that would include making new plates every time. Using a digital printer enables them to do all that quickly and easily. Moreover, it supports high-quality output, while reducing wastage. Incurring significant wastage is an almost inevitable by-product of using a traditional lithographic printer. Even if the business is doing a run of 500 items, for example, many metres of material will need to be run through the machine before the print gets under way – and all of that is inevitably wasted. A short- run digital printing press, in contrast, whether that is roll-to-roll like the OKI Pro1050 Label Printer, or sheet-fed like the OKI Pro9000 range, allows businesses to carry out high-quality printing and delivers the requisite flexibility and creativity to tailor each job to specific needs. With the OKI Pro1050 Label printer, in particular, it is now much easier for

14 April 2019

very label has value and can

businesses to print on a wider range of media including uncoated, glossy and textured papers, as well as synthetics (such as polyethylene (PE), or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), with a wide range of substrates which can be clear, opaque, white or coloured. Coupled with this, using digital LED together with dry toner technology, the Pro1050 offers a unique fifth colour or ‘CMYK+1’ option, allowing for greater flexibility and supporting much greater creativity in label design. Printing on transparent or coloured label media can now be easily achieved by printing an opaque white background under the CMYK image.

A PERSONALISED APPROACH Demand for digital printing across the creative industries is being further driven by the advent of personalisation which is leading to an ongoing need for labelling and packaging, customised to very small groups or even one specific individual. In this context, the ability to do one-off

prints is often key. Using a digital printer would enable a gin brand, for example, to print a one-off personalised gin label to adorn a birthday present or other special gift. A vineyard wanting to create a Mother’s Day batch of red wine, could use short-run digital printing to create the labels for a defined period of time leading up to the event. Alternatively, a chocolate manufacturer could use the approach to design a completely new label or packaging to be used over the Valentine’s Day period, without incurring much wastage or cost in doing so. In this context, being able to leverage digital printing enables them to be

flexible in terms of the types of labels or packaging they use. Digital printing can also be key in

improving production quality for creative businesses. Digital imagery can deliver much greater levels of detail than analogue printing. That level of detail can be further enhanced through the use of light-emitting diode (LED) print heads as opposed to conventional laser printing. But digital printing in general is known for its clarity, accuracy and fine detail both in mono and in colour. It is possible to go down to 1pt text and still be legible. This kind of production quality is especially key in personalised printing applications, of course. The recipient of a gift, or a personalised product, will be particularly appreciative of this attention to detail. It is also true that any brand that offers a personalised element will still want their corporate colours and logos to be represented correctly and in the right level of detail. Digital printing lets them do this because it can support the necessary colour quality, detail and level of accuracy – and yet it also allows brands to add in the personalised element as and when required. So, given all this, what will the future hold

for digital printing? The prospects look bright. Key to this projected future success is the flexibility that the approach supports. An important benefit is it supports bespoke printing. Whether the organisation concerned is simply running a standard short-run promotion or whether it is producing a personalised gift, it will still benefit from being able to use digital short- run printing. The key gain is the flexibility, the bespoke capability that a business can tap into by going digital – all at a relatively low cost of entry. A gin distillery, for example, would

previously have had to have committed to a large print run from a commercial print house to be able to label their products up. Today, however, thanks to the ongoing evolution of digital printing, they can buy a relatively inexpensive but high-quality digital short run printer to enable them to quickly and easily change ingredients, offers and promotions, significantly reduce wastage, while also delivering personalisation into the bargain. It’s a ‘win win’ for all concerned; solutions vendor, business customer, end user and the wider industry. In this context, the future for digital printing looks bright indeed. 

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