Thinking inside of the box: go for all-digital printing

Posted 3rd November 2017 by Marc Graindourze

Well-designed packaging aims to stand out on the shelves, to better target customers, and ultimately to generate more sales. The demand for digital printing systems is clearly on the rise in the packaging industry. The advantages they bring and availability of specific inks for various digital printing applications answer the need for shorter and more targeted print runs. Moreover, the ability to print directly on objects offers potential additional value as it allows for personalization or mass customization and can even add traceability of products and their packaging.

Drugs as inspiration

The fact that state-of-the-art pharmaceutical packages allow for advanced ‘track & trace’ through the supply chain down to the customer is now widely accepted. It is not only going to be imposed by law but is also is the right way forward for the pharma industry. Packaging has always played a critical role in ensuring the efficient distribution and, eventually, the safe consumption of drugs. Thanks to inkjet printing, it is possible to add a unique ID code on each single pharma package. Such codes can be printed on the aluminum back side of the blisters containing e.g. dragees using low-migration UV inkjet inks (in black or even full color). This practice is often referred to with the term ‘serialization’. In addition, digital printing also allows for the printing of the related instruction leaflet and the folding carton box.

It goes without saying that the move to digital printing of all elements within a package should not be limited to the pharma industry only.

“The functional requirements for direct print on primary packaging of for instance luxury goods, giveaways or electronics devices, define the different printing processes and the selection of the preferred ink technology. They may well be different for printing on the object, the carton box, and the included warranty card or instruction manual.

Taking into account these different requirements and printing processes, Agfa’s wide assortment of UV-curable inks – including low-migration inks, high-density neutral black inks and dedicated inks for single-pass printing – has proved to meet the expectations for the entire boxed product, offering unique opportunities for the whole packaging industry.”
Dr. Marc Graindourze, Business Development Manager Industrial Inks

Tracing and verifying the authenticity of packaging & products

Customized print not only adds a personal touch to products. As each finished product is packaged, a unique, traceable code can be assigned to, and physically marked on the packaging in the form of a code or even an image. Software (e.g. Agfa Graphics’ Arziro) can generate such secure, copy-proof QR+ codes to be applied on packages or sometimes even directly printed on a counterfeit-sensitive product. By simply scanning these special QR+ codes with a smartphone, inspectors, retailers or even end-consumers receive immediate, real-time feedback concerning the scanned item.

In the end, it’s all in and about the all-digitally printed box.

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