Conventional wisdom tells us that digital printing is the default option for short runs, thanks to its customisation capabilities. This has brought about a fundamental market shift, often at the expense of flexographic printing which has struggled to compete at a time when cost and added value features are crucial elements for the customer more than ever before. Is it time, however, that we tested this notion?
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Clifton Packaging, a leading manufacturer of printed flexible films and pouches, is challenging the industry-held mindset that flexo is simply not as competitive when it comes to truly short print runs. The company believes customers should not have to compromise.
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Shahid Sheikh, managing director at Clifton Packaging, said: "Essentially we are saying to our customers 'forget about the run length, we will deliver the quality you need if we can amortise the uneconomic run length across the rest of your custom'. We are assessing the economics of the print run very differently to ensure our customers receive true value for money.
"There will always be a place for digital in the marketplace but at the current time it is most suited for samples, mock ups and very small print runs. It is not ideal for the mainstream due to the associated high costs and low run speeds.
"Flexo should always be the technology of choice because when orders are planned correctly, it actually works out as the most cost effective option due to its better efficiency in terms of run speeds and print quality, which ultimately has a major influence on consumer purchasing. Furthermore, the very latest flexo presses can deliver High Definition printing, significantly reduced downtime and waste to counter any argument of being uneconomic. Digital is therefore in our minds but at present, it is nothing more than an expensive compromise."
Indeed, the company is so confident in its belief that it has already worked with customers to convert previously digitally printed jobs back to flexo to deliver finished packs with outstanding graphics, whilst accommodating the economics of the shorter print run.
Clifton Packaging developed five new designs of stand-up pouches for The British Quinoa Company, the UK's leading producer of quinoa grains.
Stephen Jones, Director, said: "Clifton Packaging assisted us greatly in getting our printing process perfected and we were even able to visit their site at the start of the print run to make sure that everything was as required. The finished products look great."
Mr. Sheikh commented: "We were delighted to work with the team at The British Quinoa Company on converting this print job from digital to flexo and they were extremely impressed with the finish of the printed pouches.
"We truly believe in the performance that our flexo lines offer and the result achieved clearly demonstrates the value that flexo brings to shelf stand out."