Digital printing has been a popular topic of discussion for labels and packaging over the last decade. Historically an industry dominated by offset and flexography, the narrow web label market is realizing a shift toward new production methods, those being digital and digital hybrid workflows. According to a study by LPC Inc, 50 percent of label presses sold in 2016 were digital devices and it is predicted that by 2020, three out of every four units sold will be digital.
One of the main drivers of digital growth is new requirements by converters’ customers—the brand owners. Brands are investing more time and energy into their labels and packaging in hopes of connecting with product consumers on a deeper level. As shelves become more crowded, standing out is critical to maintain sales revenue. In fact, the Food Marketing Institute reports SKU growth is more rapid than ever before, with an average of 39,500 SKUs in the typical North American grocery store. This equates to a 400 percent increase in the number of goods available for purchase in the last 30 years.
SKU proliferation is everywhere, which in turn reduces run length or units per job. Seasonal goods and sophisticated customization, such as variable data printing (VDP) and versioned graphics, are also preferred by the end user, pushing low-volume label orders and an even bigger need for digital technology.
The need for shorter runs also comes with the need to differentiate. That’s where hybrid comes into play versus conventional digital process. Digital hybrid is a printing method that leverages the advantages of digital printing with the proven capabilities of flexo in a single pass.
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About the Author
Chandler Davis is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Mark Andy. She is a University of Missouri graduate with a passion for social media, packaging design, and all things printing. You can also find Chandler on LinkedIn.