Digital printing technologies have grown steadily over the past 15 years, and today 30 digital label press suppliers produce some 40 different models. With more than 1,300 digital label presses already installed, digital label printing is now regarded as a mainstream label printing technology, accepted by thousands of end-user customers in all kinds of applications and in a wide range of run lengths.
Over many years, printability testing equipment, procedures and standards for conventional printing by offset, letterpress, flexo, and gravure have become widely used by the converting and print end-user sectors. However, most of the standard printability tests and procedures have yet to be fully tried, modified or utilized – or new tests developed – for the digital printing of labels and packaging.
A task force representing different disciplines has now been established, and the group will explore the possibilities of setting up a common testing framework facilitated under the FINAT umbrella. The aim is to make digital label printing a more globally standardized technology in terms of printability, performance standards, test methods and procedures.
According to FINAT, several challenges have been identified: the need for defining and agreeing on digital technologies and terminology; the desirability of benchmarking digital label printing processes against each other and against conventional printing on existing test equipment; the need for written standards and procedures for testing digital label printing, or new test methods developed where required.
“In the light of the current global supply chain with pressing needs for global standards, being technical or environmental, it is my belief that less is more,” says Andrea Vimercati, president at FINAT. “Collaboration and commitment to meeting common needs and driving common initiatives is what matters, not the technology as such. FINAT is there to serve the needs of both conventional and digital label companies to jointly develop and determine the overall labelling and packaging agenda.”