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Opening the Doors to Package Printing

(April 2007) posted on Wed Apr 18, 2007

How five companies are making their mark.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Jake Widman

"We wanted the printer to open up a new market segment for us," Hornick says. "Our customers were moving toward producing more graphics with shorter lead times, smaller numbers, and with no inventory." The Scitex has both enabled them to serve those existing customers and allowed them to find new ones. "It opened up our sales portfolio and took us into new markets," says Hornick. For example, previously St. Hart would have had to set a minimum order of 500 for a label job. Now, however, they don’t ask for a minimum. "Digital printing really opens the door for your salespeople," Hornick continues.

At St. Hart, a packaging job begins with a structural file designed in a CAD program. The resulting template is sent to the customer, who brings it into a design program such as QuarkXPress or Adobe Illustrator and overlays the package art. The customer then sends back the native application file.

At that point, St. Hart may still have a lot of prepress work to do-convert PMS colors into process colors, manage fonts that are embedded (or aren’t and should be), layer the art in the file so that it separates correctly, and so on.

"The biggest learning curve is the prepress operation," says Hornick. For anyone thinking of getting into this business, "having a color-management person on-site is a huge advantage."

A significant closure rate
Vertis Communications (, with locations in Irvine, CA and elsewhere, calls itself a "full-service communications firm"-plain old printing is just one of the many services it offers, which range from marketing concept and strategy through design and media planning. For some of its clients, Vertis creates packaging prototypes on a digital printer.

"Our customers’ customers are the big-box retailers," explains Tom Mattingly, Vertis director of creative services. "What that means is that companies that actually make a product come to Vertis to get a package design that’ll convince the retailer to carry it. We then do the packaging or point-of-purchase sales display."

He continues, "Our offering of this creative service came around the same time as the arrival of large-format printing, so we’ve always had that capability. Before that, presentations were done on flat art."