The evolution of packaging printing: from traditional to digital, benefits and opportunities

By the
editorial staff

Packaging printing has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, shifting from traditional to digital printing

This change reflects the natural evolution of technology, but it is also a response to the changing needs of markets, companies, and consumers. The challenge of producing packaging that is appealing, efficient, and sustainable has become a priority for many industries. In this context, both traditional and digital printing play a role, with advantages and disadvantages that vary according to specific needs.

Traditional printing, with techniques such as flexography and offset, has historically dominated the sector. It offers low unit costs for large print runs and consistent quality, making it the ideal choice for mass production of packaging intended for products with long life cycles and standardized graphics. Flexography, for example, is highly efficient for printing on flexible materials like plastic films and paper, providing good value for products requiring large batches. Offset, on the other hand, has long been considered the “gold standard” for image quality, making it suitable for high-end packaging.

On the other hand, digital printing has brought about a revolution. It offers unmatched flexibility through the ability to customize each individual piece without significant additional costs. This ability to produce small-scale variants is perfect for products with shorter life cycles or marketing campaigns that require differentiated packaging.

Digital printing also allows for rapid setup and reduces waste, making it more sustainable and cost-effective for companies aiming for customization or accelerated time-to-market. Moreover, the level of detail achievable with digital technology often surpasses the quality of traditional techniques.

Despite the clear advantages of digital printing, the choice between it and traditional techniques depends on factors like the required quantity, budget, design, and timeline. If a company needs to produce a large batch of packaging with simple, consistent graphics, traditional printing will prove more economical and efficient.

However, for limited print runs or variable productions, digital printing is almost always the best choice, offering speed, flexibility, and reduced storage costs. A company launching seasonal, promotional, or market-specific products will find in digital printing the ideal tool to respond quickly to trends.

A notable example of digital printing application is CocaCola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, where the company replaced its traditional logo with individual names on bottles. This initiative leveraged digital printing’s ability to create unique variants, exciting consumers and boosting sales.

In summary, traditional and digital printing offer complementary solutions to the increasingly sophisticated needs of the packaging sector. Understanding the specific advantages of each technique and knowing when to use them is crucial for any company wanting to remain competitive and meet customer expectations.

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