- The paper-cardboard printing market is valued at 6 billion euros. Packaging and labelling printing represents 35% of this. The plastics printing market generates 6.5 billion euros of turnover, of which 36% for packaging and labelling printing.
- +2.7%: growth in 2015 of the packaging printing market according to Idep's 2016 report
- -4%: the drop in French print production in 2015, according to Idep.
- According to SIPG, just 15% of packaging printers in the world are still exclusively equipped with traditional presses.
- 67% of printed packages are, according to Idep, made from glass or plastic. The rest is divided between metal (12%), wood (12%) and glass (9%).
Digital technology boosts packaging printing and its equipment manufacturers
Digital presses are generating more and more sales and boosting the sector, notably for printing labels.
Although digital technologies are having a negative impact on the press-printing and commercial printing sector, the packaging and label printing sector, inversely, is being boosted by them. "Globally, the market is growing at an annual rate of 2% to 3%", observes Alain Fouque, secretary general of Syndicat interprofessionnel des fournisseurs des industries graphiques (SIGP), according to a 2015 study by the Institut de développement et d'expertise du plurimédia (IDEP). Packaging and labelling printing now represents 35% of the paper-cardboard printing market (6 billion euros and 31,000 employees) and 36% of the plastics printing market (6.5 billion euros of turnover and 38,000 employees). Not forgetting wood (12%), metal (12%) and glass (9%).
Digital technology: fuelling innovation
However, these figures conceal two highly contrasting situations. On the one hand, traditional printing of packaging and labels is levelling off because the market has reached maturity. On the other, digital printing machines are posting two-digit growth: "Around 20% to 30% for digital label presses", emphasises Élisabeth Vilar-Bothin, market manager at Epson. In a sector with little scope for improvement, the good health of these sectors is explained by the boom of e-commerce and thus of packaging, but also by the logistics labels which accompany the parcels. Furthermore, the packaging sector is hungry for new features and digital technology has boosted innovation and creativity by opening the way for customised limited edition series. "Our clients have a confirmed marketing culture. They are always looking for new things", analyses Laurent Boumendil, communications director at MGI, the French manufacturer of multi-layer digital presses and finishing solutions for paper and plastic.
Traditional presses continue to resist
As a result, traditional printing press manufacturers have also been caught up in the digital technology trend. "In 5 years, the market share for digital has moved from 0% to nearly 50% of our turnover, which has also grown!" confirms Didier Trolio, CEO of Machines Dubuit, which makes presses for plastic and glass packaging (bottles, tubes). In fact, new technologies are increasingly competing with offset printing both in terms of quality and throughput. "Nowadays, the quality of photos from digital machines is very satisfactory. However, for text, traditional presses hold their own against digital machines, with clearly superior definition: 1,200 dpi to 1,400 dpi [dots per inch] compared to 720 dpi for digital", continues Didier Trolio. "And in terms of production rates, digital presses can produce 2,000 to 6,000 objects/hour. This is behind traditional presses (6 to 10,000 objects /hour)."
Increasingly elaborate labels
Label printing is undoubtedly one of the most attractive segments. "Adhesive labels represent a market of around one billion euros in France. They are almost entirely made for packaging and logistics", outlines Christophe Perrot, delegate general of the Union nationale des fabricants d'étiquettes adhésives (UNFEA). According to our monthly surveys, sales are making fairly slow progress, 2 to 3% per year (2.7% in 2015), but prices, more importantly, are increasing by greater margins." However, market segmentation is changing. New legal requirements mean that labels have to be considerably larger. In addition, a growing number contain RFID chips for product tracking reasons or to combat counterfeit or shrinkage. This additional added value generates opportunities for printers and their manufacturers. Digital technology also makes way for increasingly personalised labels. "For example, we give our clients the option to print as many different décors as they like using a single frame", explains Jean-Jacques Combemorel, director of operations at Stratus Packaging, a manufacturer of adhesive labels and flexible packaging. Sophistication is a clear trend. "Today, the four basic colours are not enough", explains Élisabeth Vilar-Bothin. "We add white to print on film, and then varnish."
Digital technology doesn't stop there. It is also boosting post-printing machines. "It is now much easier to add varnish, gilding and even scented inks", emphasises Christophe Perrot. Some, like Domino-Marquage, propose structured textures. Others, like French manufacturer MGI, offer 3D-effect printing. "We can apply varnish in a 0.2 mm-thick layer, without embossing the paper", stresses Laurent Boumendil. This creates "orange peel" or "water drop" effects. On large flat presses too, post-printing can now be done without any manual handling. "The prints are cut automatically using a small robot", adds Alain Greiner, manager of swissQprint in France.
Another challenge for the sector is to: "Design more ecological ink", states Delphine Baudesson, marketing manager of Domino Marquage. The ecological advantage is huge: with mineral oil-free inks, for example, logistics boxes can be recycled without de-inking, or food packaging can be printed without the risk of the ink migrating to the food.
Web-to-Pack coming soon
The flexibility of digital technologies will have an impact on the branch's economic models with the emergence of a new type of service: Web-to -Pack. After Web-to-print, or in other words the possibility for anyone to send their file via the web to then receive a print at home, "we will soon be able to order packaging in just a click via the Internet", predicts Alain Fouque, secretary general of the Syndicat national des fournisseurs pour les industries graphiques (SIPG). All you will have to do is design your packaging, connect to a website which offers different print media and which will calculate the necessary folds and cuts depending on the required size. "It will revolutionise the sector", adds Alain Fouque.
Towards the artificial intelligence of printing machines
The battle is being played out in other fields: colour control, plating management, management of flows from the raw material to the end product, etc. New machines are dependent on their intelligence. At MGI, Laurent Boumendil confirms this trend: "Our machine is equipped with artificial intelligence which can adjust printing of the décor to each label already printed. Even if the basic print contains a few positioning errors."
Merging the offset and digital worlds
Until recently, suppliers of traditional presses and digital presses belonged to two different worlds; we are now witnessing them merging together, as Dubuit proves. This long-standing manufacturer, founded in 1932, is now making machines that ride the digital wave. But although digital technology is constantly gaining market share, it is still a minority in installed facilities. This is the case both in France (market share in installed facilities is estimated at 25%) and abroad. "On the global scale, one quarter of packaging producers only use traditional printing machines. 15% of them have switched to digital machines. The rest combine both", reflects Alain Fouque. Indeed, an increasing number of offset players are now proposing hybrid machines to continuously manage printing and post-printing for large and small series. One such example is the major manufacturer of traditional presses, Heidelberg, now associated with Gallus (machines for labels). Didier Trolio is sceptical: "Personally, I prefer to deliver two complementary machines because a hybrid cannot switch from one series to another as quickly as digital." Food for thought..
AMONG PRINTING EXHIBITORS:
5 SEPT ETIQUETTE / ADESA ÉTIQUETTES ADHÉSIVES / AERA / ANTSYS SIGBOX / APPLIC’ETAINS/ BAHAR ETIKET / BOBINOV / BOLLORE / BRODART PACKAGING / BST ELTROMAT FRANCE / BST ELTROMAT INTERNATIONAL GMBH / CAB TECHNOLOGIES / CARTONNAGES GAULTIER / CHILI PUBLISH / COMEC FRANCE / CONDAIR / DALIM SOFTWARE GMBH / DB TECHNIQUE ET FITELEC PRODUCTION / DOMINO / DOUBLE E EUROPE / DUMAI EVENTS / EGYPAC - NEW FINEPAC / EPSON FRANCE SA / EQUINTECH SARL / ESKO / ETANOR / ETIK OUEST / ETIQ&PACK «TOUT L’EMBALLAGE IMPRIMÉ ET L’ÉTIQUETTE» / FLEXPRESS / FOGEPACK SYSTEMES / FOLLMANN GMBH & CO KG / FOUR PEES / FURIC / GICGRAPHIC INFORMATIQUE CONCEPT / GLORY INNOVATIONS, INC / HANNECARD FRANCE / HP FRANCE / HUGO BECK / HYBRID SOFTWARE / IC3D / INCARTA / INCOM FRANCE / INFICO / JETPACK / KONICA MINOLTA - KONICA MINOLTA SENSING- / LABSOLUTIONS / LM REALISATIONS / LUNAXE TRAÇABILITÉ / LUNDBERG TECH / LUTZ BLADES / MACHINES DUBUIT / METALVUOTO S,P, A, / MGI DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY / MONTEIRO RIBAS EMBALAGENS FLEXIVEIS / PACK EN SCENE / PITNEY BOWES / PLASTMOROZ SP Z O,O, SP,K, / PRIMERA TECHNOLOGY EUROPE / PRINTING INTERNATIONAL NV/SA / QUICKLABEL SYSTEMS / RONTECH / SERVO ARTPACK - FLEXIBLE PACKAGING / SITETIC / SS&C / STRATUS PACKAGING / STTS - CORONA & PLASMA / SWISSQPRINT ET ZUND FRANCE / TASCO / TECNOGRAVURA - GRAVURAS METÁLICAS / TILIA LABS - PHOENIX / TRANSFO PLUS / TREEDIM PICADOR / UNFEA - ETIQUETTES ADHÉSIVES / UNI-PACKAGING-DIGIFLEX / VETAPHONE / VIZELPAS FLEXIBLE FILMS / X-RITE EUROPE GMBH / XEIKON INTERNATIONAL.
Source: Erick Haehnsen