Digital package printing holds distinct opportunities and challenges.
To date, Create-It has produced most of its prototypes and packaging on one of the Mimaki machines. “We bought the newer Epson S70670 for its color gamut,” says Lewis. “It’s a 10-color machine, and it can print metallic.” The Scitex FB950 was brought in primarily to take on point-of-purchase production.
Currently, mockups are typically printed to adhesive-backed vinyl on one of the Mimakis, then mounted to paperboard for transformation into a three-dimensional package. But, says Lewis, “My ultimate goal is to no longer print on vinyl, but to print directly on whatever material the client requires,” he says. “When you print on a 3-mil vinyl, then apply that to a 12 point board, you end up with something that feels like a piece of plastic.”
So the Scitex FB950 apparently will be put to use here as well. In the few months since its installation, the HP flatbed has also generated some new opportunities. “We’ve done some good short runs with it,” printing directly to cardboard, corrugated and foam core,” he reports.
Create-It’s clients include brand managers, creative directors, and marketing teams eager to bring consumer packaged goods to retail. “We do a lot of mockups, salesmen’s samples, and retail planograms,” he says. “In the past, the business was definitely a lot more ‘onesies’ and ‘twosies,’ but now we’re starting to do more actual packaging for products. The quantities are starting to get bigger and bigger.”
The JV33’s white-ink capability has allowed clients more creative options in their designs, says Lewis. “White ink has really changed our company,” he reports. He’s utilizing it to print on other materials, well beyond the realm of the folded carton. “We’re finding other media [for it] and we’re now printing on foil and clear films,” for flexible prototypes that can adhere to the shape of a product or bottle, he says.
Lewis advises others who may be considering packaging as an application for the wide-format presses to move cautiously: “Anybody with a digital printer can do a mockup once in a while, but you’ve got to have the design background to take someone’s concept and turn it into a produceable piece,” he asserts. “If you want to do this, you need a structural designer on staff, someone who understands how the packaging industry works.”