An overview of packaging trends and one surprise found during the recent gathering of the printing industry in Dusseldorf, Germany, are revealed by printing expert Michael Ferrari. Ferrari says his fourth visit to the once-every-four-years international gathering of the printing industry, held June 23 to July 3 in Dusseldorf, Germany, drupa 2016, was the best yet.
What’s your overall view of the event?
Ferrari: It was a delight to attend drupa 2016, and this was my fourth and the best yet event for me. I have been fascinated and closely followed digital packaging technologies during the past 12 years. Drupa 2016 was the tipping point, the industry change to digital technologies was apparent and highly visible.
As I visited the 19 halls, the question remains which of these would make a big difference in the marketplace to begin the new transformation.
Lessons from drupa 2016 can be summarized in three major areas: Packaging; Digital Printing; and Digital Workflow.
What can you say about packaging?
Ferrari: Packaging is a growth industry worldwide and both visitors and exhibitors are transforming drupa from a commercial trade fair into one that now emphasizes packaging. Commercial printers are looking to packaging to regain growth. Packaging growth worldwide is proportional to population growth and can not be replaced. Digital packaging is at a double-digit growth rate while publishing and commercial applications are at a fractional growth rate.
The importance of packaging as ecommerce grows remains significant delivering the second moment of truth. Drupa is transforming into a packaging trade fair and should not be missed for anyone, brands or printers, looking to reinvent their business. An example of this could be seen from Heidelberg, Komori, Konica Minolta as traditional manufacturers catering to the publishing and commercial industries are now focusing on digital folding carton with B1 sheet-size presses.
What about digital printing?
Ferrari: Digital printing is now being demonstrated by all the major press manufacturers who have accepted that their future will depend on digital printing presses. The largest hall was occupied by digital printing, marking a change from drupa 2012 where conventional presses were still "king."
It is now accepted that digital presses are getting faster, wider and expanding to more of the color gamut. The need to reduce growing complexity and to create customized/personalized packaging are the two main drivers.
Digital label printing is moving into mainstream worldwide. Digital printing for flexible packaging and folding carton is following the same journey as labels and growing with the recent wide format press introductions. Manufacturers of digital print presses have increased in number using various print engine technologies. There is lots of competition in this area to win this fast transforming industry.
One unexpected entrant into the digital printing market came from a small manufacturer, InkCups, that introduced the Helix, a rotary inkjet printer for straight-walled and tapered cylinders.
What about Digital Workflow?
Ferrari: Digital Workflow solutions were the real star of drupa. Manufacturers showcasing the ability to decorate and finish digitally now create a totally new workflow. This is truly significant to the industry in solving complexity, speed to market in order to conduct more high value packaging that creates memorable experiences. A fully automated end-to-end workflow is the ideal state. All through-out the halls there were demonstrations of various aspects of software, printing, decoration and finishing that could be threaded together to create a digital workflow.
Esko is driving business automation through the integration of graphics management, color management, communication of global teams through approval phase and communication with MIS. This level of connectivity could increase output of digital assets produced per day through workflow automation.
Consumer product goods companies as well as printers need to take note and masterplan their workflow reinvention. End-to-end technology solutions that create an entirely new eco-system are here!
For a complete analysis of drupa and the packaging implications to help guide brand and equipment purchasing decision invest in the report, visit DRUPASimplified 2016.
Mike Ferrari, founder of Ferrari Innovation Solutions,llc, is a brand packaging consultant. Retired after 32 years of service from The Procter & Gamble Co., he is dedicated to educate, guide and inspire those in the packaging industry to understand the drivers causing the transformation and to grow digitally. Follow him on twitter via @gamechanger78.
For more about printing technologies and packaging, consider attending MinnPack, September 21-22 in Minneapolis.