PFFC subscribers respond to CalPoly Research on Innovative Packaging Technologies

Yolanda Simonsis, President & Editorial Director of Paper, Film & Foil Converter (PFFC).

Yolanda Simonsis, President & Editorial Director of Paper, Film & Foil Converter (PFFC).

In a market research study conducted by California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), PFFC subscribers answered questions related to converting on key trends changing the digital printing, labeling, and packaging industries. For full coverage of the study, visit PFFC.

Additionally, a full copy of the report is available on the CalPoly web site. PFFC readers who order the report will receive a discounted price. Contact me at using the subject line: CalPoly Research.

As author of the full report, titled “Emerging Technologies for Packaging Innovation,” CalPoly’s Carl Joachim (Associate, Graphic Communication Inst.) states the purpose of the study was to quantify the use of various emerging packaging technologies and applications used by value-chain stakeholders. The intersection of consumer marketing, packaging, and graphic communication fueled by emerging digital technologies was the basis for this research. Recent experience in working with packaging converters, consumer packaged goods companies, and technology providers led CalPoly to believe the research could serve the interests of numerous groups engaged in packaging and package printing.

Usefulness of Digital Printing & Packaging

Among the illuminating findings related to converter responses specific to the usefulness of digital printing and packaging are a sampling of direct quotes below from study respondents that I thought ICE USA website visitors may find revealing:

  • “It has a place in printing roll labels and is trying to find a place in the folding carton market. The challenge for the folding carton market is the additional processing required after printing.”
  • “Digital printing will become a large part of the traditional packaging printer’s production capabilities. Although some equipment vendors are addressing the needs of Packaging Printers, they still have a ways to go before it is truly a viable alternative for most.”
  • “I see digital printing useful not only as a short-run solution, but also as a solution to jobs that can be difficult to keep registered on press. For example, we have one client who combines shadow and highlight effects in Photoshop with very fine CMYK reverse text, and even with our laser CTP process we find it difficult to produce consistent results for the client. Digital would be a great fit for this job even if though it is not a short run.”
  • “As digital quality and speed increase, it is becoming a truly viable alternative to traditional methods. I am particularly impressed with the quality of finished product produced by the . . . digital press. Once a system exists that can economically produce print runs in excess of 15,000 feet fast enough to compete with traditional methods, the pendulum will have swung and traditional methods will reserved for only the longest of production runs.”
  • “I believe digital printing is not the future—[it] is the present. Our company made huge investments to use this technology. But, due to several issues regarding Food Regulatory statements, we cannot seize one of the most powerful improvements: flexibility.”
  • “In one year, on a 9% increase in sales, our [shipments] have increased almost 50%. People are ordering smaller lots, more often, and in greater variety. The shift has been underway for years, but seems to have accelerated lately. Hence the advantage of plateless printing with minimal make-readies. Short run capabilities seem to be a hot button in the market.”
  • “Unbelievable potential applications in the packaging market. If the ink suppliers can be more specific in FDA/food contact safety/language, it would be even better!”

Some converters note digital’s merits while citing the improvements it still must make for broader acceptance:

  • “Very convenient for short runs but the cost of (digital printer) inks, measured by click charge, is much more expensive than offset inks.”
  • “The high quality and low run capability of Digital printing is attractive but the cost onto corrugated is high. We use digital printing for our customers presentations to new markets, occasional point of sale displays and point of sale hangers.”
  • “Can be a huge asset for short runs, but has its own set of unique costs that need to be absorbed. Also, not all flexo operators can operate digital, which is more computerized versus the older flexo presses which we have are much more mechanical in operation. Highly skilled flexo operators are not necessarily skilled digital operators. Raises the issue: who runs the digital press?”
  • When it came to citing the most pressing issue that must be addressed for a company to adopt digital printing and why, the answers overwhelmingly cited the biggest issue was cost. Although said a variety of ways, in a nutshell it came down to the following:
  • “In terms of adopting these technologies internally, cost of investment for digital printing technology as well as lack of current market size to justify purchase within our customer base are both major barriers.”
  • “Cost of entry.”
  • “Investment.”
  • “Speed.”
  • “Equipment.”
  • “Know how.”
  • “Cost and training.”

Be sure to visit for the full executive summary.

Send Your News to PFFC

Of course, PFFC will be exhibiting at ICE USA, so be sure to help us provide full coverage of the event by doing two things:

  1. Send your news about your company’s presence at ICE and tell us what visitors can expect to see at your booth, including photos.
  2. Visit us at ICE USA–Booth #359–and chat with PFFC’s staff and technical experts, including:

See you on February 10–12 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center!

My friends call me Yo!

ICE USA’s Guest Blogger is Yolanda Simonsis. Yo is President & Editorial Director of YTC Media Inc., owner of Paper, Film & Foil Converter (PFFC). She is a 36-year veteran of the converting, packaging, and printing industries. She has held past editorial positions with several publications, including Packaging Digest (1978—1983) and Converting Magazine (1983—1995). In 1995, Yolanda joined the staff of Paper, Film & Foil CONVERTER (PFFC) under Penton Media Inc.’s ownership, assuming the position of Associate Publisher and Chief Editor. She also served as Editorial Director of Boxboard Containers International for three years. In September 2011, Yolanda spearheaded the acquisition of the PFFC brand from Penton after forming YTC Media Inc. with two partners. PFFC celebrates its 86th year in covering the converting industry as an exclusively online media resource at, providing full coverage of the flexible packaging, label, tape and tags, carton and box, and unprinted rolls and sheets industries.

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