Innovations Driving Digital Printing in Packaging

At a predicted CAGR of 8.9% from 2022 to 2027, the size of the global Digital Printing Packaging Market is expected to increase from USD 29.4 billion in 2022 to USD 45.1 billion by 2027. 

What is Digital Printing Packaging?

Digital printing packaging refers to the process of printing packaging materials using digital technology, rather than traditional printing methods like flexography or offset printing. In digital printing, artwork is created on a computer and then directly printed onto the packaging material using a digital printer. This allows for greater flexibility, customization, and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional printing methods.

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Digital printing can be used for a variety of packaging materials, including labels, folding cartons, corrugated boxes, and flexible packaging. It offers the ability to print high-quality images and text with sharp, vibrant colors, making it a great option for printing packaging materials that require precise and detailed designs.

Digital printing also offers the ability to print variable data, which means that each piece of packaging can be customized with unique information, such as serial numbers, barcodes, and product information. This makes it a popular option for businesses looking to create personalized packaging that stands out on store shelves.

Digital printing has become a popular method for printing packaging materials due to its versatility and cost-effectiveness. Here are some key things you should know about digital printing in packaging:

  • Digital printing allows for greater flexibility: With digital printing, you can easily make changes to your design without the need to create new plates. This makes it easier to make last-minute changes or test different designs without incurring additional costs.
  • Digital printing is more cost-effective: Traditional printing methods like flexography and offset printing require the creation of printing plates, which can be expensive. Digital printing eliminates the need for plates, making it a more cost-effective option for short to medium-print runs.
  • Digital printing offers customization options: Digital printing allows for variable data printing, which means you can easily personalize packaging for different customers or products. This can be especially useful for businesses looking to create packaging that stands out on store shelves.
  • Digital printing is eco-friendly: Digital printing produces less waste compared to traditional printing methods, as there are no plates that need to be disposed of. Additionally, digital printing allows for the use of eco-friendly inks and materials, making it a more sustainable option for packaging production.
  • Digital printing offers high-quality results: Digital printing produces high-quality images and text, with sharp and vibrant colors. This makes it a great option for printing packaging materials that require precise and detailed designs.

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UV-based printing ink is the fastest growing market

UV-based inks are cured by exposure to strong UV light. These inks are pure solid systems and do not contain solvents. The lack of solvents offers environmental benefits, high speed, and faster turnaround time. The curing process takes place through the interaction of the ink ingredients and a strong UV light source in a dryer. They can be rapidly cured, thereby increasing the print speed and saving production time. UV-based inks include colorants in dye or pigment form. These inks can be applied to a wide range of uncoated substrates and produce a very clear image with excellent color value. Owing to the high density, UV-based inks are capable of being printed on rigid substrates. This has increased the usage of UV-based inks for printing on POS/POP, wood, metal, glass, and other such substrates.

The demand for these inks is lower compared to water-based inks, as they are expensive, require expensive curing modules in the printer, and the cured ink has a significant volume, resulting in slight relief on the surface. The major drawbacks of UV-based inks are that they cannot be used on all substrates and cannot be printed on dark substrates and are susceptible to cracking when applied on flexible substrates. The most common type of UV-based ink used in digital printing is composed mainly of monomer and oligomer acrylate resins, along with photoinitiators.

UV-based inks are a 100% solid system and do not contain solvents. They do not emit any VOCs as they are devoid of solvents. Hence, using this type of ink helps lower the environmental impact and achieve an excellent color value. The major disadvantage of UV-based ink is that it cannot be used on all substrates and cannot be printed on dark substrates. UV-based inks are suitable for food packaging labels only when it is fully cured.

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DS Smith is a global leader in customer-specific packaging with an emphasis on cutting-edge packaging design and local service close to customer facilities. DS Smith meets every market requirement with a product portfolio that includes transit packaging, consumer packaging, displays and promotional packaging, customized protective packaging, and industrial packaging.

Smurfit Kappa is Europe’s leading manufacturer of corrugated packaging, containerboard, and bag in box. It is the only pan-South American manufacturer of corrugated and containerboard packaging. The company operates in 36 countries, and has 242 packaging conversion plants, 34 paper mills, 46 recycling plants and wood procurement, and 34 other production facilities.

CCL Industries is the world’s largest label company and a global specialty packaging pioneer. The company has 204 manufacturing facilities across 43 countries on six continents. CCL is the world’s largest converter of pressure-sensitive and specialty extruded film materials for decorative, instructional, functional, and security applications for government institutions and large global customers in the consumer packaging, healthcare and chemicals, consumer electronic devices, and automotive markets.

In summary, digital printing offers many benefits for businesses looking to print packaging materials. It’s a cost-effective, flexible, and customizable option to help you create high-quality packaging that stands out on store shelves. Additionally, it’s a more eco-friendly option that produces less waste and uses sustainable materials.

Recent Developments

  • In April 2022, THIMM has developed a snack box packaging solution for the safe and sustainable transportation of baguettes, burgers, etc.
  • In February 2022, Smurfit Kappa invested significantly in its new Design2Market Factory, a one-of-a-kind facility that enables a quick and seamless development process from packaging design to market launch. The investment, which includes a digital printer and die cutter, enables rapid prototyping for pilot production, as well as industry-leading packaging performance analysis and field lab facilities, all under one roof.