Digital Printing on Corrugated — Are You Ready?

Posted by Ken Wheeler on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 @ 8:00 AM

Digital printing is the newest method of printing on corrugated substrates. With this method, images from a computer file are transmitted directly to a printer, which then plots and prints the graphics onto the corrugated board — thus eliminating the need for printing plates and offering the potential to render a very high-quality image.

While the technology is still rapidly evolving, digital printing is (at least on most presses currently in operation) slow compared with other printing methods. For that reason it is used primarily for short runs. But with eye-catching and differentiating packaging becoming more and more important to many brands, now might be the time to give digital printing a second look.

For shorter run jobs like displays (up to 500 pieces), the quality that digital printing offers can be far more important than printing speeds. Also, turnaround time on digital print projects can be compressed because there are fewer intermediate steps between design and printing.

Need to print in five colors? Think digital. Concerned about the environment and/or about the consumer safety of food packaging? Eco-friendly, water-based inks offer powerful images with fewer harsh chemicals.

Concerned about cost? New, super-concentrated inks are helping to bring down the cost per print with digital printing. And digital printing eliminates the need for plates, dies and die-cutting, and other costs that are more expensive than ink, helping to make the cost of digital printing more appealing when high quality is called for.

Some of the “use cases” where digital printing on corrugated could be ideal include:

  • Time-sensitive, short-run projects like seasonal promotions
  • Point-of-purchase displays and signage
  • Shipper trays
  • Need for maximum advertising impact
  • Need for customization or personalization

For manufacturers that are considering digital printing on corrugated, Norampac-Lithotech has a full-service digital prepress department with state-of-the-art equipment in-house. Keeping the digital printing process “under one roof” with other aspects of your packaging design and production streamlines your project timeline and minimizes costs, by eliminating the need to involve a third-party.
At the same time, a full-service helps ensure that digital proofing and color matching is correctly profiled and calibrated to the press that will actually print your order, and accurately simulate press and paper conditions. Proofs are highly accurate and correctly show the color, image quality and the position of elements on the substrate that will appear on your finished materials.

Norampac-Lithotech offers not only prepress services, but also color correction and image manipulation along with scanning, barcoding (with your supplied UPC number) and digital file conversions.

As printing press technology improves, awareness in the marketplace grows, and the need for high-impact printing continues to rise, digital printing on corrugated is only going to become more commonplace.

Has your business considered, or executed, digital printing on corrugated yet? What were your business drivers, and what have your experiences been?

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