Comments Off on Skip the Label: Direct-to-Object Inkjet Takes Off
written by Debbie Thorp, Business Development Director – Global Inkjet Systems Ltd. for Screen Print Magazine
The digital revolution has its sights on a new challenge, and decorating three-dimensional objects offers no shortage of puzzles or possibilities.
Product decoration using inkjet technology isn’t new – systems have in fact been on the market for many years. But recent developments have made decorating three-dimensional objects (not to be confused with 3D inkjet or additive manufacturing) one of the most talked-about segments in the industry.
Sales of small-format flatbed printers designed for decorating promotional items are increasing; more vendors are entering the market and the systems feature new capabilities. Also, we’ve seen significant developments in the mid- to high-end range of production printers. Systems that were demonstrated at tradeshows a few years ago are now proving themselves in real production environments.
Market Drivers Personalization and engagement are buzzwords that have been permeating marketing campaigns and social media in recent years with companies vying for “likes” on Facebook and developing ever more innovative ways of enticing us to buy their products. Numerous fast-moving consumer goods companies are now using digital printing technologies to add value to their brands and increase the “user experience.” What arguably started with Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign has exploded into personalized Nutella jars, Heinz soups, My Heineken bottles, and even customized dog food with Purina’s Just Right range – and there are many, many more examples.
The benefits and drivers for using digital printing technologies are well-known, including cost-effective short runs; just-in-time production; design freedom; no screens, clichés, pads, or time-consuming setup costs; and variable-data capability offering the potential for every product to be different. Then there are the particular advantages that inkjet technology brings as a noncontact technology that can print onto different product shapes – not only flat objects, but also tubes, conical shapes, and even tubs. Inkjet can also print onto structured surfaces, creating unusual visual and haptic effects, enabling decoration in areas not possible with labels. In short, inkjet can potentially operate in the same space as screen, dry offset, and pad printing – and yet offer the additional high-value benefits of a digital print technology.
Printing onto spheres, cylinders, and uneven surfaces is a challenge inkjet developers have happily embraced, offering direct print alternatives in applications where pad printing or labels would have been used in the past. Courtesy of Roland DGA.
Comments Off on Visit us at MD&M East, NYC June 13-15
Engineered Printing Solutions (East Dorset, VT) will be featuring its latest technologies in both pad and industrial inkjet printing at the 2017 MD&M East Trade Show, being held June 13-15 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, NY.
This year’s industrial printers include the following:
The perfect flatbed solution for personalized souvenirs, customized gifts, industrial products and promotional items, this multi-color printer provides quality as high as 1200 dpi, high speed uni- and bi-directional printing and a maximum print area of 20” x 24”. See a complete list of features and watch the video for this popular industrial inkjet printer.
The KP05 360° Catheter Pad Printer
When it comes to printing versatility, this KP05 Pad Printing Machine does not disappoint. It can be used as a single color machine, two color and rotational printer, and be electro-pneumatically controlled with a digital programmable microprocessor for high quality printing. This particular configuration will be equipped with a vacuum catheter bed for providing the capacity to print any images –bands text etc 360° around the tube within the confines of the 90mm diameter print area of this machine.
For information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, standard pad printers, industrial inkjet, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit www.epsvt.com, email email@example.com or call 1-800-272-7764.
See our technology in action for yourself. Register for the 2017MD&M EAST here and come visit us at Booth #1729. Contact: Eric Henzie – Director of Marketing Engineered Printing Solutions 201 Tennis Way East Dorset, VT 05253 firstname.lastname@example.org 800-272-7764 ext. 227
In this edition of EPS Insider I caught up with Jim Tower, Technical Services Manager at Engineered Printing Solutions. Simply put, Jim is dedicated. He commutes around an hour each way every day and he offers customers around the clock mobile phone availability. His morning commute is devoted to mental preparation for the work day ahead, and his commute home offers an opportunity to wind-down.
Jim and the Technical Services Team play a vitally important role at EPS. Jim and his team are responsible for supporting the Sales Team in the early stages of product qualification, generating the samples for each of our prospective clients. Technical Services is deeply involved in the development and maintenance of our facilities process development. They also put the final stamp on our completed projects during the quality control phase prior to shipment. And lastly, our most important point of competitive differentiation, our post-manufacturing customer support that follows every product we ship for the products entire lifespan.
Q: What is your role here and what responsibilities does it entail?
“I am the Technical Services Manager at EPS and manage a 15 person department. Our team handles a wide variety of responsibilities, a good place to start is at the ‘hand off’ from the Machine Assembly and Engineering Team(s) after a piece of equipment is complete. We make sure that the equipment meets all specifications, and after we are satisfied that these specification have been met we build a process for support around them. We are very critical during these activities because nothing will leave this building unless we are positive we have met our customer expectations. Accomplishing this is all about process development, and this is where the talent of this department really comes into play.”
“In addition, we provide support for the life of the equipment after we have completed our final testing steps before we ship to their facility. This post purchase customer support is a large part of what we do every day. It begins with what I term, installation commissioning and on-site training. This involves visiting the customer’s facility, checking the equipments condition, reproducing the production process, establishing a baseline of what the equipment is capable of, and then training the customer to effectively perform the process themselves.”
Q: Can you tell me more about the free lifetime technical support that we provide to our industrial printing customers?
“While we offer an extensive warranty for every product we sell, the personal relationship never really stops for us. We provide free post-warranty, lifetime technical support to all original equipment owners of our machines. This support is provided via phone, email, Skype…whatever remote assistance is most comfortable for the customer. All of our larger systems can be operated and diagnosed right from my desk via TeamViewer, the proprietary remote access software solution we have relied on for years.”
“We find a special pride in our ability to develop long-term relationships with each of them. We cherish all of our customers and we frequently receive positive feedback because they know that we are always here for them. We will send a qualified Technician to any facility within a few hours time if the situation warrants this level of timeliness support. We know that really matters and we have loyal, repeat customers because that’s the level of support we are known for.”
Q: In addition to simply providing the free lifetime support, what about it do you think sets us apart from other companies in our industry?
“I think what sets us apart is our responsiveness and expertise, which is second to none. You can ask any customer and they will tell you as much. We make every effort to get back to our customers within minutes of a request. In addition to my team having a high level of expertise and quick response time, they are a ‘likable’ group. People enjoy speaking to them, and prefer that over opening a manual and troubleshooting an issue themselves. We have a mantra here; if our customers are successful we are successful. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and therefore they are more likely to consider EPS for future projects. We have built relationships with our customers and know where they are at with a piece of equipment. As a result, we can pick up on something right where we have left off.
“That being said, the double-edged sword here is that if a customer is picking up the phone to call us, it’s not because they wanted to say hello. It’s because they have encountered an issue and they need a quick and thorough resolution. Let’s use a newly purchased machine as an example. A significant investment has been made and there’s a learning curve there, plain and simple. The customer is still getting their ‘sea legs’ and that is where most problems occur. It’s our job to diffuse the situation, to calm them down and do what we do…which is to work them through the problem. This is what my team is very good at.”
Q: How and why do customers depend on your department for sample production?
“There’s any number of reasons as to why we produce so many product samples. It can be a contract basis, a custom basis, and most commonly during the presale phase for a new tool for proof of concept and quality. A company might simply need samples done for a trade show. A customer may be struggling with their own in-house printing, and ask us to figure out the problem. There are lots of reasons we’ll turn a machine on here!”
Q: What do you think best summarizes the importance of the technical services department?
“It would be the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘service-less machine’. Our customers simply need us in one manner or another. Regardless of whether or not it is a technical issue with some aspect of the printer, or the operator is struggling with a process. My team is here to see them through it.”
Q: What do you personally enjoy the most about your position and leading your team on a daily basis?
“The challenge of the job, hands down! After doing this for 20 years, I still learn something new every day. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it. Engineered Printing Solutions is a ‘custom automation house’, and thus no two processes are the same. We are uniquely positioned to produce and service three very different solutions; pad printing machines, cutting edge digital machines and completely customized, uniquely manufactured proprietary machines. There might be a few cookie cutter aspects with the smaller, pad printing equipment. However, when you get into the larger machines, none of it is the same. The challenge for my technicians and I is understanding what those differences are so we are able to diagnose and repair them. That’s the challenge, in addition to always meeting the customer’s expectations…of course!”
For more information about Engineered Printing Solutions custom solutions, such as standard pad printers, industrial inkjet, consumables and auxiliary equipment, visit www.epsvt.com, email email@example.com or call 1-800-272-7764.
It’s no secret that we live in an on-demand world. Technology has provided us with immediate gratification in nearly all aspects of our lives. Print on demand is a perfect example of how the digital age has redefined the what, how and when of our printing needs.
Albeit a less popular buzz-word, short-run printing is becoming an ‘industry equivalent’ in many respects in the world of commercial and industrial printing.
Manufacturers need to enable their clients with the ability to produce smaller, customized quantities in a cost-effective manner. This is proving as necessary on the industrial printing side of the industry as it is the consumer printing side.
“Customers want to do shorter runs. They want to do shorter runs, because they want to version, or they want to have personalization, or they want to run very specific campaigns. We see those same megatrends that are happening in the core (publishing, transactional, commercial printing) are happening in the packaging industry”, said Eric Weisner (VP & GM of Hewlett Packard) in a recent interview.
The Benefits to Companies (Large and Small)
Although digital printing has been commonplace in the home and office environment for some time now, it is still referred to as a change of revolutionary measure in the professional printing world.
The efficiency and profitability that digital printing creates is stirring up a world of possibilities in the printing industry. It is driving innovation and pushing companies to new limits, all very good things.
Among short-run digital printing’s many benefits is the fact that it is not company size-centric. While the benefit to small businesses is obvious, larger companies with hundreds of products benefit equally. The ability to print the amounts needed at a particular time (and apply changes ‘on the fly’) makes short run printing just as appealing to big business.
It’s all about meeting deadlines and staying within (or below) budget, regardless of who you are.
Endless Opportunities: What the Numbers Are Saying
Commercial printing currently makes up close to 40% of the worldwide $901 billion print industry. Over the past 20 years, digital printing has literally transformed the industry (initially at the consumer level). Think about how receptive the market was to the introduction of personalized cards and calendars? We love the ability to make something ‘our own’ through personalization.
Digital printing has given us the ability to innovate endlessly. High quality, short run capabilities (with constantly improving technology), offering the ability to print on virtually anything…in small amounts and with variations as well.
Digital short run packaging has hit a high gear with the private labeling of in-demand goods, personal care products, food and beverages, seasonal packaging and special events to name a few. It has also created an affordable and flexible means for brands to test the waters with short runs of new products, as well as testing those new products in different languages.
Industrial Printing: Short Run and the Manufacturing Process
Digital short run printing (for both decorative and functionality purposes) during the manufacturing process is another large segment. Medical devices, automotive parts, textile and glass are all industries that are prospering from both digital and its short run capabilities. When it comes to innovation, market testing and customer requirements, digital short run is becoming more and more an obvious choice.
“The migration to customized digital solutions that satisfy the needs of brand owners and product managers is why equipment manufacturers are developing new and innovative solutions in imaging, inks, material deposition, and printing technologies.” says Ron Gilboa, Director of FIPS.
When we stop and take a look at the substrates that digital short run printing can print on (from both the decorative and functional perspectives) it is easy to envision the boundless opportunities and the inevitability of growth. The technology now exists to digitally short run print on metal, glass, plastic, wood, wax, fabrics, ceramic…even food.
Direct-to-Shape: Replacing the Printed Label and More!
As Marcus Timson well stated, “Printing and placing labels onto packaging and products is big business.” As a segment of the printing industry that is approaching $50 billion, there is no shortage of innovation brewing as to the possibility of replacement of the printed label. Businesses are starting to realize the economics of it, while also beginning to embrace the new possibilities that come with direct-to-shape. The flexibility of direct-to-shape compared to printed labels allows for more customization and more creative freedom. The ability to effectively print directly onto various contours opens a world of possibilities.
Catheters & IV’s
…the list goes on!
Conclusion: So Much Can Be Done In the “Short Run”
Digital short run printing within the realm of industrial manufacturing is opening the doors to enormous opportunities. When technology creates the ability to innovate cost-effectively and with less and less creative limits, a renaissance of sorts occurs. Companies are able to introduce new products in a manner that is less risky, new markets are created at a faster rate, and providers of the technology are continually inspired to invent new capabilities. This is what the age of industrial digital printing is creating. A kind of new “Industrial Age” in and of itself.