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Better (and Cheaper) in the Short Run

By: Bob Scherer
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Since there is no cost difference between digitally printing two- and four-color packaging, plateless printing also means not having to choose between a quality, complex design and adhering to a strict budget.

Another big advantage of digital is the ability to print different versions of the same label or packaging—when one buyer wants to include the word “new” and another requests a copy change, for example. Digital allows for multiple versions by prepping the run to efficiently batch the projects and print one quantity of this version and a different quantity of another one. It works because the printer batches the orders and prints one large run that is broken into 1,000 of version one, 500 of version two, and 1,500 of a third version, for example.

Printing at 800 to 2,400 dots per inch, the quality of digital printing will match or surpass what can be achieved through flexographic and rotogravure processes. In fact, digital often requires the “fuzzying up” of images to achieve the results typical of other processes, when the end desire is to have both processes look as similar as possible.

Niche Opportunities

Digital technology also makes it possible to take advantage of opportunities in specialized or niche markets that were once deemed too cost-prohibitive. Manufacturers and marketers of cosmetics, for example, now can approach smaller specialty retailers with the idea of marketing their own signature line of cosmetics. Similar concepts can be presented to a variety of retailers that require customized packaging.

For marketers, the essential beauty of using digital printing to produce sales samples, prototypes and comps—or to move into niche markets—is in getting products to market faster with less cost and risk.