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Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM
SUPPLY CHAIN: A WEAK LINK FOR NEWBIES
“Whatever comes off a commercial printing press is the end product,” says Jan De Roeck, Esko’s Director Solutions Management. “But whatever comes off a packaging press is not the end product but only half of it. There’s a lot more that goes beyond the printing press in the packaging supply chain. It’s about logistics, finishing, fulfillment and understanding the functional specifications of the package. You must know this or you’ll fail miserably.”
De Roeck says that a print buyer’s relationship with a converter also poses a hurdle for packaging newcomers. “Brand owners don’t switch suppliers lightly. Their quality requirements are high—they have a lot of trust and faith in their suppliers.”
In the packaging world, changing suppliers is a costly proposition. That’s not the case in the commoditized commercial printing environment, where, as De Roeck says, “There’s no loyalty. If a neighboring printer is a littler cheaper, you move to another [offset] supplier.”
WHERE IS THE DEMAND?
Beyond the production issues, there’s also the demand question. Which short-run applications will prevail? Labels are a sure bet, says De Roeck. “With labels you typically have very short runs for locally produced products. Folding cartons and other packages may be a tougher sell. Certainly for personalized folding carton packaging, the time may not be right as of yet. I’m not waiting for a box of corn flakes with my name on it,” says De Roeck. “The winners of this contest will be the ones that find the end-user applications for short run or personalized folding cartons that can be manufactured cost-efficiently.”
OFFSET PRESSES AR EN’T SO SHABBY
Digital developments may have captured the drupe spotlight, but offset isn’t down for the count. “Some of the conventional offset manufacturers gave some surprising demonstrations at drupa,” notes De Roeck. “They [showed] multiple rapid changeovers, even as the press was running—even washing ink stations—and it was done within 15 minutes. It was an astonishing display of flexibility and productivity.”
X-RITE POISED TO EXPAND ITS PACKAGING POSITION
Earlier this year, Danaher Corp. acquired X-Rite, the color science specialist. Alert readers will remember that X-Rite acquired Pantone in 2007. Danaher’s previous graphic arts–related acquisitions have included Esko (2011) and Videojet /Marconi (2002).
PARENT COMPANY’S DEEP POCKETS
Currently, Danaher is a $161-billion company with 59,000 employees worldwide. X-Rite joins the Product Identification segment of Danaher’s Industrial Division. In addition to Esko and Videojet, the group includes Gems Sensors and Controls, Kollmorgen, Linx Printing Technologies (coding and marking), and Qualitrol and Thomson (precision mechanical motion control).
Vic Stalam, X-Rite’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, sees a lot of potential in the packaging market. He says that X-Rite/Pantone’s standards prowess, coupled with its ability to measure color in a consistent way across the supply chain, is a “natural fit” with Esko’s workflow strengths.
COLOR ENGINE DR IVES COLOR CONFIDENCE
Reproducing brand colors continues to be one of the largest challenges of package printing. At drupa, X-Rite unveiled PantoneLIVE, a cloud-based color service that provides instant access to essential brand color standards. Esko’s Color Engine, a central color database to manage color and device profiles, is the enabling technology that supports the PantoneLIVE color management process across the prepress packaging workflow.
TRUE COLOR S SHINING THROUGH
Targeting packaging and label applications, Esko’s Color Engine 12 supports color consistency and realistic spot-color reproduction. Using an ink’s spectral definition, Color Engine predicts the behavior of the ink and simulates the printed result on a digital inkjet proof. The software calculates what a spot ink will look like when printed on top of another one, printed on certain paper or board stock, or viewed under different lighting conditions without having to fingerprint all possible combinations. It also creates and manages multi-ink profiles for coloraccurate extended-gamut printing and digital printing.
“Effective color management delivers cost savings throughout the value chain,” says De Roeck. “Getting color right the first time and simplifying the color management process cuts down the costs.”