Digital is certainly making a big impact on print, especially in the media and publishing industries.
Its impact might be less obvious in printed packaging but this is set to change as larger format systems will enable digital to be used more widely to produce flexible, plastics, metal and glass packaging.
In fact, hardly a week goes by without one or more print manufacturers announcing their expanding digital capabilities to the packaging sector, with the introduction of new machines that will help them to capture a share of this growing market.
Analyst Smithers Pira has forecast accelerated growth rates from now to 2019 - faster than the previous five years – where the value of flexible packaging will increase by nearly 19% to 2019 when the market will be worth $4.1 billion. As the report notes, this growth will coincide with the introduction of higher performance machines, with significant growth for digital in this sector after 2019 to 2024.
While all this sounds good to us, it’s worth reminding ourselves how all machines, regardless of type and size, need fundamental maintenance and care, in order to provide optimum performance.
The print sector has been concerned with how to improve efficiencies, reduce waste and increase productivity since mechanisation. In more recent times, press manufacturers and converters have hankered after a machine that produces little or no waste, provides more efficient change overs, higher speed and simpler tooling.
Today, many of these efficiencies can be realised but still operational costs are a significant feature of viable and profitable print businesses. Housekeeping and cleanliness are vitally important in this respect as any downtime is quickly reflected on the bottom line. As the upside of digital print for packaging comes to the fore, especially the increased demand for customisation, across different substrates, fast turnaround and efficient change overs, will be critical to success. Keeping the web clean and dust free is an imperative part of this.
Substrates attract static, therefore printing effectively on the former, requires the elimination of the latter. Ensuring that static is kept to a minimum, especially in environments where quality is paramount – think of brands requiring exact colour specifications – strict production controls must be adhered to. At Meech our latest systems provide the highest accuracy static control in the production environment, where voltage levels can be remotely monitored.
Like any new technology, it’s easy to see it as the answer to all things. Indeed it might be, if some basic procedures are observed.