Digital label presses
The label printing sector has grown to such an extent that annual installations of digital label presses are now close to 30% of all narrow-web press installations worldwide, with over 3,000 digital label presses installed worldwide in the label industry at the end of 2015.
Looking ahead, digital label presses are forecast to make-up close to 40% or more of all annual narrow-web press installations by 2020.
Against this backdrop, the overall value of digitally printed label jobs nowadays is viewed as far greater than the printed cost alone. Industry estimates indicate that although digital label printing is currently only about 3 to 5% of all printed pressure-sensitive label jobs by volume, it makes up some 15 to 18% or more of all print jobs by value.
The many benefits of this growing sector include:
A seamless workflow has become one of the essentials of successful digital label production. It provides the basis for minimising errors and paperwork, speeds up response times, and provides continually up-dated manufacturing and customer information, as well as bringing down lead times.
Compared to conventional label printing, the digital process does not use printing plates or require any platemaking materials, chemicals, processes or time resulting in cost saving.
For the brand owner, the opportunity to reduce or eliminate label warehousing, reduce time to market, and improve supply chain efficiencies can be a compelling reason to turn to digital label production. The possibility of just-in-time production, short-run proofing and test marketing of labels is also of great interest.
New added value and marketing opportunities for brand owners – indeed almost any size business ‒ have become a real focus for label users in today's ever-competitive environment. There are many examples of where digital printing solutions have provided the possibility to easily produce multiple versions or variations, variable design images, personalised labels, mass customisation, new promotional opportunities and even regional, seasonal or special event labels. For the digital label producer these marketing opportunities offer the potential to add value and enhance profitability.
Environment and sustainability
There is little doubt that the environment and sustainability have become important issues. By producing exact quantities rather than a percentage of 'overs', digital printing reduces print wastage. Unlike other printing processes, there are also no chemicals, water or plate making materials used with digital printing.
A relatively new, but growing area for digital design and printing with the latest software solutions is to incorporate security design backgrounds and special features, variable images, micro text, anti-copy features and much more.
Track and trace
The fact that digital labels can be printed individually means printers can produce sequentially numbered or coded labels, create hidden codes matched to visible codes, and provide changing codes that can be used with smartphone technology – all offering new possibilities for track and trace label solutions.