by Industrial Print Magazine Staff
For years analog technologies like flexography and rotogravure have reigned supreme when it comes to flexible packaging. However, technology advances each and every day and as such digital printing continues to make great strides into this space. The advantages are evident, especially as the modern consumer is faced with more choice than ever before.
Brand owners must create packaging that stands out from the rest of the product on a shelf—virtual or in person. This means limited quantities to entice consumers to buy, which translates to smaller runs that are most adequately run on digital printing devices.
A Welcome Addition
Fres-co System USA, Inc., based in Telford, PA, is a leader in flexible packaging. Starting out in 1978 as a flexible packaging provider for coffee, the company today provides single-source flexible packaging system solutions to the coffee, dry food, liquid food and beverage, industrial, and pet food industries.
The one-stop flexible packaging shop supplies machines, materials, service, technology, and innovation from a 32-acre campus in PA that houses a packaging and equipment production facility, research and development department, engineering services, and administrative offices. A second location is in Red Oak, IA. Between both facilities, 500 people are employed.
2021 introduced digital printing to Fres-co, expanding its services and complementing its traditional flexographic and rotogravure capabilities. In particular, the addition of the technology meant broadening options available to the company’s customers in the coffee, food, pet food, and chemical industries.
“In more recent years, digital printing has proven itself to be a strong, growing trend in the flexible packaging market through the introduction of new technology and the entry of new players. Given our established flexible packaging and printing expertise, expanding to digital printing was a strategic and obvious next step,” explains Abby Possinger, marketing manager, Fres-co.
The impetus for the purchase of the digital printer was to cater to those looking to produce their products in small batches or limited quantities, such as smaller businesses with lower quantity orders or larger companies looking to offer seasonal products or multiple SKUs based on region or private label.
Custom printing of this nature was and remains difficult without digital printing. “Traditional printing methods require fees for plates or cylinders and typically demand high minimum order quantities. That requirement poses challenges for companies that prefer custom-printed packaging—a major differentiator at the point of purchase—but only need smaller quantities for each product SKU,” cites a press release from Fres-co.
Kevin McRae, director of sales, Fres-co, notes that “with digital printing, the possibilities are open for companies that need to custom print their packaging in smaller quantities—whether it’s a seasonal coffee flavor, a regional food item, a private label product sold exclusively through one retailer, or other situations that require a lower quantity than traditional printing allows.”
Introducing digital printing into the mix offers advantages for both Fres-co and its customers. First, the cost factor is significantly less when setup fees for both flexography and rotogravure are eliminated. Secondly, the speed and efficiency of a digital printing press allows buyers to be more flexible with their marketing messaging. They can try out designs and colors in the prototyping stage that are much closer to the end product; offer seasonal items, private label items, or regional-based SKUs in one run; and respond quickly to consumer demands.
“Fres-co’s digital printing can be done on a faster timeline than traditional printing, enabling companies to respond quickly to new market opportunities or launch seasonal or limited time products with less lead time. With no printing plates or cylinders to change, digital printing allows for more flexibility of the package’s artwork, meaning companies can test new designs or colors, change logos or other branding elements as needed, or even personalize every single package,” cites the press release.
Digital printing is now available for a variety of Fres-co packaging for coffee, food, pet food, and chemicals—including premade side gusseted bags like the company’s proprietary CORNERSEAL and back fin seal bags, pre-made pouches such as stand up and flat pouches, and roll stock. Essential features such as Fres-co’s degassing valve as well as tin ties or press-to-seal reclose options can be added to any digitally printed packaging, which are available in various material structures based on product protection needs.
“As a leader in the flexible packaging market, Fres-co is excited to expand our comprehensive line of packaging services with this important addition,” notes McRae.
Fres-Co identified quickly the modern movement into smaller packaging quantities to meet the needs of consumers. Acting in response to this demand, it implemented a digital press to cater to its customers—both large and small—looking for product packaging that reflects multiple SKUs for many reasons.
“Digital printing has greatly influenced our packaging business in a major way through our new ability to offer low minimum order quantities with no setup fees with a quicker turnaround time,” adds Possinger.
The addition of digital printing is a great next chapter for a company like Fres-co with a long and important story in flexible packaging. IPM
Jul2021, Industrial Print Magazine