By Melissa Donovan
Print providers add digital label printing capabilities in house to service short-run demands. The addition of this technology reshapes how companies run their business, from influencing which jobs are run on which press to interfacing with new customers from many vertical markets.
High-Quality, Low-Volume Jobs
Design Label Systems, Inc. (DLS), based in Mississauga, ON, Canada, is one organization experiencing the influence of digital. In business since March 1989, 70 employees work out of a 25,000 square foot space serving the food, petrochemical, household product, health and beauty, pharmaceutical, general manufacturing, and wine and spirits markets. Products include pressure-sensitive labels, film products, and board products. It offers graphic design, in-house platemaking, service bureau, and tags and labels to the North American marketplace.
Traditionally a flexographic shop, DLS turned to digital in 2014 with the addition of a label printer from Primera Technology, Inc. “But it was a half-measure solution to tackling our goals of being a more versatile shop with quicker turnaround times for our few high-quality, low-volume jobs, in the hopes we could get more business like that,” admits Adam Faruqui, sales and marketing coordinator, DLS.
The shop’s acquisition of a Tau 330 digital inkjet label and specialty packaging printer from Durst Image Technology US LLC followed soon after, with the goal that it would be integral in penetrating new market verticals previously unattainable with traditional technologies because of the high costs. This new press targets high-quality, low-volume label projects with multiple SKUs, “allowing us to be highly competitive in a market we considered ‘low hanging fruit,’” says Faruqui.
A number of the press’ features attracted the DLS team. For one, the shop is UV focused, so the UV-based inkjet technology of the Tau 330 made it an automatic fit as it was technology everyone could understand. The device’s over 100 square feet per minute run speed allows it to keep pace with the existing flexography presses on the shop floor as well. And lastly, Faruqui says there was virtually no learning curve, so the press was up and running within a week of installation.
DLS remains primarily a flexographic shop. The specifications of the label job in question determines whether traditional or digital printing is used. According to Faruqui, “our current tipping point varies based on the ink coverage a digital job will have, as the primary factor for calculating digital viability are the ink costs.”
An example would be a few jobs—that despite being around 2,500 to 5,000 feet—are run on flexography printers due to the ink coverage. Conversely, jobs have been run on digital that are over 8,000 feet because the ink cost is a non issue.
Ink cost is one of the limitations DLS has identified with digital label printing. “This prevents competition with traditional printing at longer run lengths, and limits the variety of substrate, which limits the ability to offer flexible solutions to our customers,” says Faruqui.
However, he admits that recent technology advancements continue to impact and overcome ink and material challenges. Specifically citing new advancements in ink efficiency that provide more value per kilogram of ink and increasing research and development and raw material partnerships that result in more materials optimized for digital print.
With the help of the Durst Tau 330, the goal of exposing the company to new markets is on its way to being realized. Faruqui says DLS plans on adding a new shift to the Durst Tau 330 by August 2016.
“We expect this portion of the business to expand so we can focus on leveraging the strengths of digital to meet the needs of future market trends. Digital’s expanded the market to an almost consumer-level style of customers due to low barrier to entry costs, for say 1,000 labels, and gives large companies great flexibility for testing new products and releasing them to market, with just-in-time inventory being easier to deploy and forecasting becoming a less critical issue,” concludes Faruqui.
DLS is thriving thanks to its hybrid selection of print technologies. Its primary goal in bringing on a digital label press was to enter new market verticals where flexographic printing just didn’t make sense from a financial standpoint. Identifying where the opportunity is and then addressing it with a new device allowed the company to grow and offer its services to customers beyond its existing client base. dps
Jul2016, DPS Magazine