Omega Packaging takes the next step beyond digitally printed caps to bring the production and graphics flexibility of digital printing to round plastic containers.
Omega Packaging, La Mirada, CA, has expanded its digital-printing beyond closures to now include full-color CMYK digitally printed round containers in sizes from 0.25oz to 32oz. The technique eliminates labels and gives customers exceptional creative license on packaging graphics and copy.
Company president Jack Oh reveals the colorful, customizable details in this Q&A.
What’s the background to this?
Oh: Our customers are increasingly asking us to print on the plastic jars and caps that we make, to provide a turnkey package. While exploring traditional processes like silk-screening, offset, and pad printing, we realized that digital printing was the future, and decided to focus most of our investment in that area. Earlier in 2016, we installed equipment to do full color digital printing on our plastic caps (see Digital printing creates colorful custom closures published in August) and the natural extension of that project was to start digital printing on our jars.
What’s the benefit for customers?
Oh: Smaller batch sizes, mass customization, frequent artwork changes, better graphics and product differentiation are some of the market forces that are driving this technology. The lack of tooling like screens or plates allows us to change artwork easily. How else can you take a photo of yourself and immediately print it on a jar? Or print 1,000 jars all with different images?
What can you say about the printing equipment?
Oh: Due to the proprietary technology, I'm not able to share too many of the technical details. The process is similar to the digital printing we've been doing on our caps, but instead of printing on a flat surface, we're now printing on the side wall of the container. This requires more sophisticated machinery.
Closeup from an early test run in August shows the level of detail possible with 360 dots-per-inch resolution.
What are the print specifications?
Oh: Full-color CMYK printing at 360 dpi with UV-curable inks developed for food and pharma packaging. We can achieve full 360 degree coverage around the container, which is not possible with most other methods. And we're able to print on more of the jar than traditional processes like silk-screening, offset printing or even by labeling.
How do costs compare?
Oh: The cost is similar to a 2-color silk screen. And the number of colors doesn't affect the price, so we encourage our customers to get more creative with their artwork.
What jars and options are available?
Oh: We're currently offering this service on all of the jars and caps that we make. The smallest container we make is a 1/4oz or 33mm jar; the largest is a 32oz or 120mm container. Due to frequent requests from customers, we're also starting to explore the option of offering this service even for containers not made by us.
The impact and flexibility of personalization using digital printing is apparent in this custom note and graphics printed on jars.
What’s been done to date?
Oh: The projects we've been working on have mainly been to replace labels, or as a substitute for multi-pass silk-screening or offset applications. The ability to print all the way around the jar without any gaps has been appealing to some customers. And being able to print on more of the jar has allowed us to use larger text for customers struggling to fit all of their ingredients or other information.
What graphic file formats are required?
Oh: We accept AI or PDF files. Most customers provide final artwork sized exactly the way they want it, but we've also had situations where a customer sends us bits and pieces and we stitch it together. With the ability to print on more of the container than before, we often end up enlarging artwork, especially the tiny text on some of the smaller jars.
When did you launch this service?
Oh: We first started shipping digitally printed jars in October. Currently lead-times for printing are about 3 to 4 weeks. We're adding more equipment to handle growing future demand and to keep turnaround times short. Since we always keep a large quantity of (unprinted) jars in stock, our goal is to provide a complete package to customers within a few weeks of ordering.
Digital printing, 3D printing and other printing and packaging decoration techniques can be found at WestPack, February 7-9, 2017, in Anaheim, CA