DataLase - Inline digital printing

DataLase is a leading inline digital printing company. Mark Naples, vice-president of business development Europe and Asia, expands on how it works with a selection of market-leading strategic partners across inks and coatings, substrates and brands to deliver revolutionary solutions for inline digital printing of products and packaging.

The mission of DataLase is to deliver innovative, cost-effective, high-speed digital printing solutions to brand-owners that provide the enhanced quality, operational efficiency, and marketing capability to grow brand value and protect market share.

The diversity of beverage types and brands is increasing, changing the design of packaging as brand-owners seek new ways to attain on-shelf impact. Combine this with the need to drive operational efficiency for the manufacturer and the demand for late-stage customisation of packaging, and the tailoring of bottles with variable data, graphics, codes and messages to inform and delight the consumer while minimising pre-printing of label and bottle stock is also required.

To meet this need, digital printing is evolving quickly as the packaging and labelling industry looks to deliver shorter print runs, in order to maximise consumer engagement through personalisation and late-stage differentiation.

According to 'The Future of Digital Print for Packaging to 2018' report by Smithers Pira, the most dynamic area for change in digital printing will be within packaging. The digital print for packaging market is forecast to grow to $15.3 billion by 2018.

"A key objective of digital printing is to achieve the maximum relevance to the consumer and deliver the highest value to the brand in the shortest time possible," says Mark Naples, DataLase vice-president of business development Europe and Asia. "Ideally within 24 to 48 hours of any event occurring. Offline, ink-based, digital printing systems are still reliant on the traditional supply chain logistics to deliver packaging to producers, which limits the ability to output finished products with variable, personalised or customised information in real time."

On closer inspection

At the core of DataLase is laser-reactive, colour-change pigment technology that is supplied to ink manufacturers and strategic partners around the world. The pigments are incorporated into finished coatings and inks, which are applied to a substrate using conventional print methods. The laser-reactive-coated substrate is then supplied to the product manufacturer for inline digital printing at the point of filling and packing.

"The most important element of this process is that printer converters can still use their existing flexo, gravure or lithographic assets," Naples says. "The unique solution allows printer converters to offer digital printing capabilities to their customers, without the need to invest in new digital printing machinery. We're using existing supply chain assets that have been paid for, that the company has experience in using and they can really optimise to get the best out of the system.

"By using a laser at the point of filling means that it is an inkless technology, unlike inkjet, and results in a high-resolution, permanent and irreversible image or graphic. By installing inline digital printing, consumables are eliminated from the production environments, operational efficiency and equipment effectiveness is boosted significantly, and there is no ink or mess."

Inline digital printing enables faster printing and higher throughput rates, which makes it an ideal, economically viable solution for short-notice requirement changes and late-stage customisation. The same compact laser system can be incorporated in primary and secondary printing applications regardless of the substrate type, making equipment standardisation across production lines a genuine reality.

Label designs can be changed rapidly with DataLase inline digital printing with each label being individually printed if so required. Today's DataLase technology can print black, white and monochrome colours to deliver additional shelf impact. Different languages, promotional codes, expiry dates or tailored marketing messages can all be achieved.

It is also suitable for use across a wide range of substrates. Furthermore, printing on demand means less waste.

"Without the operational and production benefits associated with inline digital printing, late stage, mass customisation and personalisation isn't cost-effective," adds Naples. "DataLase is the only solution to deliver not just late, but last-stage customisation of products and packaging that will revolutionise the way brand-owners print packaging and connect with consumers."

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