23 April 2013
Packaging experts talk trends at DIA meet
TORONTO—Packaging may be a lucrative and growing business but it’s also complex and filled with challenges.

That was the key message during a special session on the trends, challenges and opportunities of packaging during a Digital Imaging Association meeting last week.


Mike Millard of Ellis Packaging addresses the Digital Imaging Association

Susie Stitzel, solution manager, design lifecycle management at Esko, outlined for the audience the myriad elements that have to be mastered: complex shapes, a huge number of substrates and specialty inks, brand colour accuracy, “wild” finishing such as holograms and braille, and pressures to get product to market quickly. “Nineteen percent of brand owners change their packaging every six months,” she said.

She also outlined four key areas that are crucial to success as a packaging printer:
  • Protecting brand equity, such as logos, artwork, and die lines;
  • Ensuring the accuracy of regulatory content, including nutritional content, warning labels, bar codes, and country net weight;
  • Maintaining  brand colour consistency across all substrates;
  • Driving innovations so that brand users maintain their leads in the market.
A panel discussion following her presentation featured Chris Murray of Murray Prepress in London, Ont.; Mike Millard, director of prepress services at Ellis Packaging in Pickering, Ont.; and James Lee, director of technology and innovation at Jones Packaging in London, Ont.

Here’s some of their advice on entering the packaging area:
  • Following regulatory requirements is a huge task; you can’t get into pharmaceutical packaging, for example, without the proper accreditations;
  • Colour is key; you have to produce proofs you can match on press;
  • Install a good quality-check system;
  • Have a packaging engineer on staff. This is different from a designer;
  • Engineers understand things like structural integrity, how substrates react to stress, and how they will feed though the filling line without friction;
  • A better route to this market may be to buy an existing shop, because it will come with an established team that is adept at stripping, die cutting, shipping, gluing and all the other tasks that need to be done.
On the subject of digital:
The panel was in agreement that digital is in its early days and still presents problems with cracking, limited ability to print on board thicker than 18 pt., issues with colour that wanders and fades in large areas, and the colour gap that exists between the four colours that most digital presses offer and the eight colours that most packaging needs. What packagers want is a short-run solution, but it doesn’t have to be a digital one.
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