Package Design Magazine: Game Changer Digital Print

Brand owners need a cost-effective way to create packaging and displays. Each year they send hundreds of millions of packages to big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, raising concerns about sustainability, costs and time to market. For printers, it is becoming imperative that they are able to offer solutions to help their customers with questions like these:

  • How can I take cost out of the supply chain? How can I demonstrate ROI for every penny I spend without diluting my brand or shopper experience?
  • How can I cost effectively customize promotions for specific retailers, markets or audience?
  • How can I get to market more efficiently while creating a rich brand experience that connects with shoppers?

Digital printing for a new age

The pros and cons of offset lithography versus digital printing are well documented. The accepted orthodoxy is that litho delivers consistent high quality images, can handle long runs without losing quality and works on a wide range of surfaces. The negatives of litho include higher costs, minimum order requirements, higher waste, longer turnaround and no variable data option. Traditional digital has its own set of pros and cons: quick set-up time, a good solution for low volume printing of short-run orders and samples. On the downside, digital has been too expensive for longer runs and offered less color control and questionable quality. 

What if that formula was disrupted? What if digital printing could deliver on all the attributes of litho and flexo printing while significantly augmenting the “pros” of digital? Then you’d have a game changer.

Bennett Packaging is the first in the U.S. to adopt new digital print technology known as the biggest, fastest beast of its kind.

Bennett was not lacking in print capabilities when Craig Bradley, VP of Manufacturing started exploring digital options. The company is recognized for continually investing in leading-edge technology, had won print awards in the past, but knew that digital printing had the potential to be disruptive for the industry. When Craig discovered the Barberan and compared it to other leading brands, he realized that the change occurred quicker than expected. “What other digital printers run at 300 pieces an hour?” he said. “Barberan was running about 10 times faster, at up to 3,000 pieces an hour.” After a few trips to Spain, Bennett purchased the technology. 

Bennett is now the first, and only, print-to-corrugate provider in the U.S. with the largest, most sophisticated new-form digital platform. These capabilities are opening a new world of possibilities for brand owners. Robert Sweet, Bennett’s Sales Manager says, “When people hear digital printing for retail packaging and displays, they put it in a silo; this new machine doesn’t belong in that silo. Bennett’s digital press can do large-format at high speeds and of multiple prints in a matter of minutes, something that others have to get tooled up to do and costs a fortune. Brands can be super targeted; printing different versions for different consumer segments or for different markets. With this technology, you can do one display or package for Wal-Mart, one for Kroger, one for Costco and not shut down. In the litho or flexo world all these versions would break the bank but not anymore.”


The future is here

What digital presses did for traditional printing, Bennett’s technology can now do for retail packaging and displays. Their digital platform is a high-speed, direct-to-corrugate, 6-color press. Capable of printing at speeds that rival litho and flexo printers, Bennett’s technology can now deliver a better value in less time. According to Robert Sweet, “Brands think they can’t control color with digital printing, but our technology makes that a myth. We have the ability to build almost all spot colors with our new printer. And once agreed upon, that color will hold for the duration of the run, and can be matched for all future runs.”

Bennett partnered with Samsung recently, helping the global consumer electronics brand gain floor space and positioning at retail for a new product rollout. They had a very short lead-time and the product was coming from overseas, so the display had to be completed and packed out quickly. Deciding to run the job digitally, versus flex or litho, saved considerable time up front since no set up time or print plate orders were needed. Because the project went so smoothly, Bennett is now talking to Samsung about future projects. “For example,” says Sweet, “Samsung ships over 25,000 televisions into the U.S. every day. Our digital platform can increase efficiencies significantly through creative flexibility and increasing speed to market. As for sustainability, the savings in paper when a job does not require a litho label is astonishing. This is an incredible piece of technology.”