The diverse needs across markets have necessitated extensive time and resources from all facets of the supply chain. As printing press manufacturers strive to deliver faster presses featuring greater quality, substrate suppliers are tasked with engineering new and improved materials.
Collaboration, of course, is key. Avery Dennison has partnered with various OEMs to create dedicated portfolios that match the ever-evolving technologies. The Mentor, OH, USA-based Avery Dennison must account for the various requirements across multiple digital print technologies like laser, water-based inkjet and UV inkjet.
Not only has Avery Dennison collaborated with suppliers, it has emphasized customer service to ensure converters receive the optimal materials to boost their brands’ labels.
“Avery Dennison’s team of application consultants, regional tech managers and business development managers, like myself, are available to work with customers and OEMs to make sure they get the right products for their printing needs,” comments Paul Lender, business development manager of digital materials, Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials. “Our digital portfolios mirror our standard product portfolios. At the basic level that means offering white papers and white and clear films. Depending on the digital platform, the portfolios might also include metalized papers and films, conformable films, and premium labelstocks for segments like wine and spirits. The most common of these in use across all the digital print technologies would be some version of a gloss or semigloss paper and a version of white BOPP.”
Avery Dennison has seen its demand for UV inkjet-compatible substrates continue to surge, which matches industry trends. According to Lender, numerous Avery Dennison converter customers installed inkjet units during the past year, which contributed to increased demand. However, he notes a dip in water-based inkjet requests.
“Water-based inkjet might have flattened a bit because of the pandemic,” acknowledges Lender. “The closure of many smaller, regional storefronts that would take advantage of print on-demand just meant there was less pull for those products. Overall, though, digital print navigated 2020 quite well.”
Avery Dennison’s substrates designed for UV inkjet include a mix of paper and film products that may or may not need priming before printing. The action depends on the press OEM, the art and the end user’s needs. Meanwhile, water-based inkjet requires the most engineering in the current state, notes Lender. Dye and pigment-based inks require coatings to maintain their dot size and help with drying and image quality.
For label converters operating HP Indigo digital printing presses, the inline priming unit (ILP) has made a sizable difference.
“HP Indigo has really opened up the number of substrates that their press owners can utilize by putting the priming and printing process together inline,” says Lender. “While Avery Dennison continues to offer Indigo topcoated products, a majority of these press owners take advantage of the ILP.”
In the future, Avery Dennison anticipates greater digital penetration in more markets. Digital printing will continue to make its mark in flexible packaging and shrink labeling. Plus, digital printing will serve as an asset for sustainable initiatives, which Avery Dennison has been active in promoting.
“Digital’s biggest impact to sustainability is the reduction of waste compared to traditional analog printing,” states Lender. “It requires less ink, less substrate, and shorter runs. Not only do shorter runs consume less material, but they also lead to less printed labelstock that may age out over time and have to be scrapped. At the extreme, water-based inkjet can offer print on-demand as low as a single label. Thinner facestocks, thinner liners, substrates containing PCW can also be used on many of these presses, as well.
“Digital printing is still evolving,” adds Lender. “Faster and wider presses are showing up in the UV inkjet space. Water-based inkjet has seen continued development of pigment inks and compact printhead systems.”