“The world of labels is one of the most rapidly growing and fastest changing sectors in the entire printing industry, returning above GDP growth year-on-year for at least the past 30 years,” states Leon Minnie, manager production print solutions at Konica Minolta South Africa.
“We’ve found that most of this growth has come from self-adhesive (or pressure-sensitive) labels, which have transformed this sector, as well as factors including customisation and regionalised products. The advances within the various stage of digital label printing, incorporating digital design, origination, artwork and pre-press, enhanced colour management and front-end technology, combined with a better understanding of how to manage digital printing and workflows in the label plant, have all helped to move digital label printing rapidly forward.”
There are seven compelling reasons to make the transition from analogue to digital label printing, Minnie explains:
1. Output can be personalised - research in 2016 showed that customised packaging makes products feel more valuable to the consumer.
2. Multiple stock keeping units (SKUs) can be handled – short runs of different labels are quick and easy to run, with no additional preparation time, making this type of printing more effective and profitable;
3. Lead times can be shortened – no pre-press setup time makes for a printing process that can start without delay;
4. Costs can be lowered – less waste, minimal labour requirements and zero plates used equate to lower running costs and improved profitability;
5. Improve consistency – total colour management control allows for consistency across the substrate for the entire press run;
6. Simplified operation – digital control is far more straightforward than the conventional analogue system – jobs can be queued from a touchscreen control panel making reprints faster and more cost effective; and
7. Quick and easy changeover of media rolls – different substrates can be changed simply by splicing one onto the other.
There seems little doubt that digital technology will be a critical and ever-growing part of the label – and package printing – industry’s future, says Minnie. “Those label printers and converters that are willing to embrace digital printing, investing wisely for the future, are those most likely to succeed in tomorrow’s world,” he concludes.